Writing with Multiple POV’s

So now we know how many different POV’s we are using.  If you don’t, go see my previous posts: Multiple Personalities and Did you mean to have a personality disorder.

But, assuming you do the odds are you are writing in third person of some fashion. I suppose you don’t have to follow third person as a rule if you follow the House of Night Novels; but it is usually more accepted to not do this.

So that’s the question.  How are you going to write in several different POV’s (Point of Views in case you didn’t know.)

As I mentioned there are several different ways to write when using several different viewpoints.  House of Knight novels are an example of how each character has a new chapter in order to write the whole story in first person.  The authors of this series jumps into too many heads if you ask me and if they didn’t prequel each chapter with who’s POV it was, I would be lost.  Whether you like the books or not that is one example.

Another example is to simply write and switch POV as often as you like as long as each is its own paragraph.  There aren’t a lot of books like this but they are still out there.  I think Susan Elizabeth Philips uses this technique in older books of hers.

A third option is to switch into different POV’s as a “scene” change or a break in the scene while still remaining in the same chapter.  This is a lot more common and usually works out well for the reader.  I myself prefer this method.  Recently though I have heard some people suggesting that each character needs equal time in the chapter.  I don’t agree with that statement.  Does everyone talk as much as another or have the same deep thoughts person A had?
So how would you use the scene changes?
Do you continue the scene but now from person B’s POV?
Do you rehash the events that had just occurred in the other person’s POV?
Do you simply jump to another location altogether?

I think jumping locations or scene continuation are mostly used.  Susan Mallory uses this technique. She also writes in more than two POV’s. Rachel Gibson sticks to two people, and she uses the continuation of the scene with some rehashing of events but it’s minimal and flows as the scene continues.

Points to ponder:
I think a good point to note is that if you are not in one of your characters head’s enough the reader won’t feel like they know the character.
If you are in one characters head too much we might get a one sided view point. Maybe you want that?
If you switch between characters too often we may never see a full picture from either character.
Do both characters really need equal time in each scene or chapter in order for the reader to really understand what is going on? (I don’t think so but that is just an opinion.)

3 thoughts on “Writing with Multiple POV’s

  1. Nicki Mann says:

    I have noticed POV switching in a lot of the independently published books I’ve read lately. Often the writer doesn’t even give each person their own paragraph, but constantly switches back and forth. Like, `When Jim saw Laurie walk in, he thought, “Why, that is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen! What am I going to say to her?” Laurie noticed Jim staring at her, and wondered if she had something on her face. She hoped she looked okay… she’d really been looking forward this blind date.” (I just made that up now, but you get the jist of it!) It kind of makes my head spin. I think you can identify more with a character if you are able to focus only on what they are thinking and experiencing, instead of being somehow able to read all the characters’ minds!

    • M. Ziegler says:

      I would 100% agree. I don’t think I can connect with the character if I never get a good idea of what they are thinking beyond one sentence here and there. I have read a few independently published books and very few seem to have ever looked at the best sellers in their own genre. I don’t claim to be perfect but I figure the best sellers did something right.

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