Using Multiple Points of View

Let’s face it, sometimes, one point of view (POV) just doesn’t cut it. You’ve got a galaxy of characters, each with a unique perspective. Why limit yourself to one? So, I’ll show you how to utilize multiple POVs without getting yourself lost.

The Multi-Faceted Prism of Multiple POVs

A story told from multiple POVs can provide readers with a 360° view, giving them a holistic understanding of the plot. It’s like having your cake, your best friend’s cake, and the mysterious cake from the table at the back too.

Multiple POVs can confuse your reader if not handled correctly. Ensuring each POV is distinct and adds something unique to your story is essential. Otherwise, it’s like having three pieces of the same flavor cake—overkill!

Choosing Your POV Characters

Just because you have a dozen characters doesn’t mean they all deserve the spotlight. Sorry, folks! As a rule of thumb, every POV character should bring something new to the table. Unique insights? Different personality traits? A secret only they know? Those are your VIPs.

And how many are too many? There’s no hard-and-fast rule. But juggling too many POVs can feel like herding cats while spinning plates. Unless you’re George R.R. Martin, it’s generally safer to stick with fewer POVs, perhaps 2-4, to ensure clarity and focus.

In my Thriller novel “Killer Me,” I have three main POVs: the main character, the detective and the murderer. Just knowing those simple details tells the reader to expect a well-rounded story told from all sides.

Passing the Baton: Transitioning Between POVs

This is where the real fun starts. How do you switch from one POV to another without giving your reader whiplash? Here are some tips:

  1. Chapter breaks: The simplest method is to change POV with each new chapter. Even better, name the chapter after the POV character. E.g., “Harry,” “Ron,” “Hermione.”
  2. Scene breaks: If you’re changing POV mid-chapter, use a scene break (often denoted by a line or asterisks) to signal the change.
  3. First line identifier: Start the scene with the character’s name or have them do something that establishes it’s their POV.

Dodging Potholes: Common Pitfalls in Using Multiple POVs

Avoid these traps like they’re last season’s fashion trends:

  1. Too similar: Make sure your characters’ voices are distinct. If your readers can’t tell who’s speaking, you’re not nailing it.
  2. Too many: As I said earlier, don’t throw in a new POV just because. Each one should serve the plot.
  3. Too little: If you introduce a POV, don’t abandon it. Neglected POVs are like neglected houseplants; they wither and make your readers sad.

Writing multiple POVs is like conducting an orchestra; each instrument has its part to play, and when done right, the result can be harmonious and powerful. So, embrace the challenge, and create a symphony that your readers won’t forget.