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Thread: How do you like multiple point of views to be divided?

  1. #26
    practical experience, FTW rwm4768's Avatar
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    It depends on what works best for the story. That's going to be different for every story you write.

  2. #27
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    I think it really depends on your own preferences. For example, T.A. Barron's Great Tree of Avalon series has multiple perspectives, but it's clear in the beginning (at least the first book) that the there is one MC with several other supporting characters, whose POVs also get explained and expanded on as the series progresses. There are other enjoyable and skilled authors, who decide to stick to one POV for the first several books in a series and then switch it up later (Veronica Roth and Patricia Briggs come to mind). Whatever you're comfortable and happy with is your best bet - you're the one who knows what is best for your book!

  3. #28
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    I love POV questions!

    I don't mind multiples or even how many there are as long as they're distinct and the story really needs them. I also don't mind how the shift in POV is shown as long as there is some signal. Definitely don't feel the need to follow a strict ABAB or whatever, and characters should have only the POVs and page time they need.

    As for pitching, I was also told to pitch one character even if the story has two protagonists. The book that landed me my agent had two pretty equal protags with one slightly more significant than the other, and their POVs reflected this. But then after a lot of discussion and soul searching, I flipped protagonists so that the formerly main protag was downsized, the other upgraded. Now the book is very clearly one character's story with the other POV playing a strong supporting role. That's how it'll be pitched to publishers, and it'll supposedly make things a bit easier, since the story is complex enough without being fuzzy on whose story it is.

  4. #29
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    I agree with what a lot of people are saying about it depending on the story what POV works best. I recently read a novel that fell short of my expectations because there were so many POVs, I didn't feel I was in the head of any one character long enough to connect with them. At the same time, I've read some books with multiple equal protagonist POVs, like Six of Crows, that I really enjoyed. The same goes for the other variations upon multiple POVs you mentioned.

    I'm not an industry professional, but I read somewhere yesterday from something I believe was from one of the Pitch Wars mentors that it can sometimes seem like agents are acquiring fewer multiple point of view novels than they are because the pitch for a book sometimes won't bring up all the point of views. Anyway, I could be remembering wrong, so take that with some skepticism. I haven't heard anything about what specific type of multiple POV in terms of the variations you mention that agents prefer.

  5. #30
    practical experience, FTW LeftyLucy's Avatar
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    Another vote for "it depends on the story."

    Something I'm a stickler about in fiction is distinctive voices - that's among all characters, not just POV characters. If you're going to make me read something a character says or thinks, it better not sound like the same things another character is saying or thinking, or I'm going to question the precision of the characterization. So that goes x10 for POV characters. Distinct voices, with crystal-clear transitions between them. Beyond that, as far as I go as a reader, it's all fair game.

  6. #31
    practical experience, FTW neandermagnon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andiwrite View Post
    Interesting. Is your opinion on this the same if it's limited third? I have 3 different POV in my opening chapter, but the three people are all together experiencing the same story. I don't know if that makes a difference.
    Sorry I missed this question first time around...

    It depends on how deep inside the character's head the POV is. If it's like first person where you're deep inside the character's head, then POV changes are likely to be as potentially jarring as for first person. If i'm not so deep in the character's head then it's easier to transition between POVs. But as per the previous post, The Girl on the Train is an example of a book that IMO handled 3 deep POV characters very well so it can be done. If your book is deep POV 3rd person, then limiting POV changes separating them with chapter breaks would help.

    Also bear in mind that I'm just one person and I don't know how many other people have this issue.
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  7. #32
    Dead Men Tell No Tales Chasing the Horizon's Avatar
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    Like so many others have said, it mostly depends on the story. But there are a few methods of using POV which I universally hate.

    -Sticking a scene break in the middle of a scene just to change POVs. When I see a scene break, my brain drops what I was visualizing and prepares to have a new scene constructed. Having this expectation not met is super jarring for me, and also, IMO, incredibly lazy writing. If you're going to write first person or third limited, pick a POV and stick with it to the end of the scene. Otherwise learn to transition POVs and write omni.

    -Scenes that are nothing but characters thinking about stuff that was already shown in another POV in order to communicate their internal feelings about it. Again, I feel like this is lazy writing. You should be able to show how the people around your POV character feel about stuff as it's happening and not rely on everyone's internal thoughts.

    -Overly structured POV switching. Someone else mentioned this, how having a strict structure (like alternating POVs each chapter and making the chapters similar lengths) is artificial and annoying. It takes away an essential tool in writing multiple POVs in third limited, which is the ability to choose the POV character who will best be able to tell each scene.
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  8. #33
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    hello oldish thread... >.>

    I'm currently reading a philosophical fantasy with multiple *first person* points of view. Very rad.


    -Overly structured POV switching. Someone else mentioned this, how having a strict structure (like alternating POVs each chapter and making the chapters similar lengths) is artificial and annoying. It takes away an essential tool in writing multiple POVs in third limited, which is the ability to choose the POV character who will best be able to tell each scene.


    I do this (although not similar length chapters). I've toyed around with putting in multiple points of view within a chapter and it doesn't work as well *for me* in this particular MS. I would be jumping around all over the place otherwise, and I don't want to do it some chapters but not others.
    Last edited by Harlequin; 08-13-2017 at 11:39 AM.
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  9. #34
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    While I can't stand fantasy epics, I do love space opera epics*, and apocalyptic epics, and in those--the more POV's the better.

    In a space opera the characters tend to be humans, humanoid aliens, non-humanoid aliens, robots, androids, clones, planetary intelligences, ship computers, so their voices, as well as perceptions, values, motivation, etc., are different from each other by default; while the apocalyptic epics tend to be written by horror or sci-fi writers, whose characters are frequently freaks, losers, insane generals, gang-members, maniacs, devolved cannibals, telepathic mutants, etc, so there is also more than enough diversity in the character voices.

    In a non-epic multiple POV books, I tend to prefer one central protagonist lead with a limited cluster of auxiliary POV's who get stage time only when they really need to, and one central antagonist lead who gets at least half as much space as the protagonist.

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    Last edited by JCornelius; 08-13-2017 at 03:11 PM.

  10. #35
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    So far, out of 11 chapters, my MC has 5 full chapters from her perspective, and 14 scenes in the split chapters from her point of view. The male MC has only 2 full chapters from his POV and 6 scenes in the split chapters. and as far as I can tell, that will be the ratio for most of the rest of the book.

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  11. #36
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    I don't believe there's one ratio to rule them all, but I do think consideration should be given to what's at stake for each character in the scene. All else being equal, better to tell the scene from the perspective of the character who's got the most skin in the scene. That said, you obviously want to be careful about going into certain viewpoints that could provide spoilers to future scenes.

  12. #37
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    Tangent question. What are people's thoughts on mixing whole chapter pov with shared chapter pov?

    I note one person above mentions doing this, but I'm always unsure. Probably about 80% of my chapters work better from a single pov, and maybe 20% would work better with pov sharing. I don't want to be inconsistent though, so have avoided mixing and made do with that 20%.
    Deferential, glad to be of use,
    Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
    Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
    At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
    Almost, at times, the Fool.


  13. #38
    practical experience, FTW JoB42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harlequin View Post
    Tangent question. What are people's thoughts on mixing whole chapter pov with shared chapter pov?

    I note one person above mentions doing this, but I'm always unsure. Probably about 80% of my chapters work better from a single pov, and maybe 20% would work better with pov sharing. I don't want to be inconsistent though, so have avoided mixing and made do with that 20%.
    I don't see a problem with it as long as there's a good delineation between the povs within the chapter. And, of course, a very good narrative reason for doing so.

  14. #39
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    For my novel, I've done full-chapter POVs, and only a few chapters with shared. You have to have a very good reason to do so, and it all depends on the plot and pacing of your story. No right or wrong answer here.

    Switching POV's too much, though, can be confusing. Especially if you're writing in first person. That's why I think third-person POV-switching works best. But then again, just my opinion.
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  15. #40
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    The only multiple first person POV books I've read, confined their POV swaps to separate chapters. I think as a reader I'd seriously baulk at having first person swaps between scenes.

    The 20% I mentioned occurs at the end of the MS so I guess I'll leave as is for now, as it's probably not fair on readers to have separate chapters for diff POVs all the way through and then throw spanners at them near the finish line.
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  16. #41
    writer, rider, reader...ex-pat! BethS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harlequin View Post
    Tangent question. What are people's thoughts on mixing whole chapter pov with shared chapter pov?

    I note one person above mentions doing this, but I'm always unsure. Probably about 80% of my chapters work better from a single pov, and maybe 20% would work better with pov sharing. I don't want to be inconsistent though, so have avoided mixing and made do with that 20%.
    I have chapters with more than one POV. I use scene breaks to make the change, and I make it clear which character now carries the POV. I don't see an issue with it.

    ETA: I write in third-person limited, fwiw.
    Last edited by BethS; 08-20-2017 at 12:24 AM.

  17. #42
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    Thank you for the reading recommendation it was very helpful on the multiple POV discussion.

  18. #43
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    This has been an interesting discussion and I thank you for asking the question because I've been wondering the same thing about the novel I'm working on. Here's my pet-peeve about multiple POV's: If not labeled properly and if the voices aren't largly different, multiple POV's can get a bit confusing. Therefore I think the POV's should be clearly labled, preferabbly in chapters, and the voices should show clearly unique personalities. I couldn't have put that into words before reading this thread, so again, thank you for asking the question.

  19. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by BethS View Post
    I have chapters with more than one POV. I use scene breaks to make the change, and I make it clear which character now carries the POV. I don't see an issue with it.

    ETA: I write in third-person limited, fwiw.
    But do you have chapters which are one pov, interspersed with chapters which mix different POVs? Sorry, I worded it weirdly the first time.

    nb--voices should always be distinct, multiple povs or single.
    Deferential, glad to be of use,
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  20. #45
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    I've seen most books with multiple first done via scene breaks labeled with the pov character's name. This technique isn't as needed with limited third, as the narrator can use the new pov character's name in the opening sentence. I don't think there are any rules, as long as it's clear too the reader and serves to advance the story. Not everyone likes every technique, and on writers' forums opinions can be very strongly and confidently stated as if they were facts, but that doesn't mean most readers feel the same.

    I've read and written books where some chapters have one pov character throughout, and some have more than one via scene breaks. And sometimes a chapter can be one scene, sometimes a chapter can have several. It's all about when a given arc or story segment is reached and it's time for a new one to start.
    Last edited by Roxxsmom; 08-20-2017 at 02:21 AM.
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  21. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harlequin View Post
    But do you have chapters which are one pov, interspersed with chapters which mix different POVs? Sorry, I worded it weirdly the first time.

    nb--voices should always be distinct, multiple povs or single.
    Sorry, harlequin, but it's still worded weirdly.

    If it's a different POV character and it's well written -of course there will be aspects of that new POV character seen in the writing, but one doesn't need to go overboard with it. The narrator's narrative skills carry the ongoing story.

    What if some chapters are one POV and these chapters are interspersed with chapters which are not? What does it matter? If it really bothers someone - it only takes the insertion of (New) Chapter X to solve the question of having more than one POV in a Chapter -no?

    To me, questioning this mixing of POV in different chapters stuff doesn't seem to have any relevance to anything.

    Either a story is well-written, readable and effective or it isn't.

    It's up to each of us to decide how we approach POV allocation or placement to best serve the telling of our individual stories - there's no rule about it.
    Last edited by Bufty; 08-20-2017 at 02:34 PM.
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  22. #47
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    I'm not judging, just trying to learn and curious how others do it.

    Yes, they could be broken up into separate chapters, but in some instances that might result in scene length chapters (say 700-1200 words) which don't have three act structure.

    I suspect it's a case of something which doesn't bother other people but is a wholly irrational hurdle for me in regards to writing. I don't think I've read a story which mixes those techniques, though; the ones I can recall are all one or the other, which is probably part of the issue.
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    Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
    At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
    Almost, at times, the Fool.


  23. #48
    Let's see what's on special today.. Bufty's Avatar
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    I know.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harlequin View Post
    I'm not judging, just trying to learn and curious how others do it.

    Yes, they could be broken up into separate chapters, but in some instances that might result in scene length chapters (say 700-1200 words) which don't have three act structure. Maybe, but again, what's wrong with that? 'Three act structure' is not cast in iron, doesn't have to be followed religiously, and also doesn't automatically mean length. A scene only needs to convey what you feel it needs to convey, in any manner you choose to convey it, and a scene can be any length at all- so can a chapter. 1200 words is 5 pages and some Chapters I've read were only half-a-page.

    I suspect it's a case of something which doesn't bother other people but is a wholly irrational hurdle for me in regards to writing. I don't think I've read a story which mixes those techniques, though; the ones I can recall are all one or the other, which is probably part of the issue.
    I see from your profile that you think you are a perfectionist. Are you allowing yourself enough freedom in your writing?
    Last edited by Bufty; 08-20-2017 at 03:02 PM.
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  24. #49
    writer, rider, reader...ex-pat! BethS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harlequin View Post
    But do you have chapters which are one pov, interspersed with chapters which mix different POVs? Sorry, I worded it weirdly the first time.
    Yes. The single-POV chapters are more common than the multi-POV ones. I generally reserve those for places where things are happening simultaneously to two or more POV characters.

  25. #50
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    Hrm. Perhaps my barrier to this is entirely self imposed.
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