• U.S. members: The Federal Government is offering each household in the United States four (4) free at-home Covid-19 test kits. https://www.covidtests.gov/

How often to switch POV?

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Hbooks

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jun 18, 2011
Messages
558
Reaction score
72
Approximately how often on average do you switch POV between H1 and H2? (maybe ballpark word count?)
 

ElaineA

All about that action, boss.
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 17, 2013
Messages
6,957
Reaction score
3,249
Location
The Seattle suburbs
Website
www.reneedominick.com
I naturally write 1 POV character/story, but I'm having to get used to writing from 2. A lot of romances do go 50/50, switching every chapter but I don't think it has to be that strict. I think the novella I just turned in is more like 30/70. How often I switched was totally story-dependent. What was happening at that moment, or whether there was a logical or natural-feeling change spot.

Sorry not to be more help.
 

tiddlywinks

Chaser of Shineyyyy Plot Bunnies
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 7, 2014
Messages
9,406
Reaction score
3,678
Location
Trying to Remember Where I Stashed My Muse
Website
www.elainewitt.com
What Elaine said. Do what works best for your story. Which POV is the most compelling for that particular scene / beat in the story? I’ve written one that is about 70/30, another that is 50/50. In the one that was 50/50 frex, I actually went back and redid a scene that didn’t feel quite right (too much melodrama) from the other POV and sure enough, it worked so much better!

Think about what can be revealed thru that POV - what’s the most compelling? And what’s most vivid for you to write? Hope that helps.
 

LJD

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Sep 12, 2010
Messages
4,223
Reaction score
517
Location
Toronto
I usually have close to a 50/50 ratio overall, and switch maybe every 2000 words on average? But that's pretty variable. It would be rare for me to go more than 4000 words without switching POV, probably.
 

morngnstar

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 9, 2014
Messages
2,271
Reaction score
295
Take my example with a grain of salt, since I'm an unpublished, under-writing, recovering head-hopper.

I have a total of 32 POV changes in my 50k word WIP, for an average of 1545 in a POV at a time. Sometimes this spans multiple chapters, sometimes I switch within a chapter at a scene break. I might need to work on not having a scene break just as an excuse to change POV. I've seen that done in some books, but I get the impression from some comments on this site that it's less tolerated. Maybe it was okay in the past, but style has changed.

My MMC holds the POV for an average of 1243 words at a time. My FMC averages 1828. This makes sense, as it's really her story. Her minimum is 138 words, and his is just 76. These are both the final scene in a chapter, intentionally short and punchy to give a reaction or counterpoint to the other character, who's had the POV for most of the chapter. His max POV at a time is 4473 words, and hers is 6834. His median count is 887. Hers is 1238.

It was interesting to observe the rhythm of the POV. Towards the crisis near the middle of the book, it starts alternating much more rapidly. Then after the crisis is Alex's longest continuous POV, as we leave Tanya's story a mystery and he goes after her. I think it works, although maybe it alternates more frequently than most people.
 

CEtchison

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 10, 2009
Messages
447
Reaction score
68
Location
Austin, TX... for now.
Website
www.cheryletchison.com
I might need to work on not having a scene break just as an excuse to change POV. I've seen that done in some books, but I get the impression from some comments on this site that it's less tolerated. Maybe it was okay in the past, but style has changed.

Plenty of romances (including mine) are done this way. Don't worry about it. Write it in a way that works best for your story.
 

Earthling

I come in peace
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 3, 2016
Messages
1,210
Reaction score
190
I like to have a least 2,000-ish words between POV switches. As a reader, I don't like when books switch too often, and I write books I'd like to read.

I do have shorter switches occasionally, but don't make a habit of it.
 

Blue Tortoise

Registered
Joined
Feb 23, 2018
Messages
24
Reaction score
2
The book I'm working on has three POV characters, no idea what the split would equal out to but if I had to guess, 70/20/10. If I had to guess I would say that kind of split would probably be questioned on the surface but I know from trying to write the thing that it just works better seeing certain things through certain eyes. It's been done about a million different ways in fiction and they all have pros and cons, I'd say just roll with it, especially through the first draft!
 

Zombolly

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 25, 2013
Messages
253
Reaction score
38
Location
Midwest
Agree that it's a preference thing. For me, my only problem is when the author basically ends up writing a scene twice so we can see it from both characters' POVs. Once in a while this is necessary when their POVs show something different and intriguing, though that's rare. Usually, you can find a better way to explain the other character's POV.
 

Earthling

I come in peace
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 3, 2016
Messages
1,210
Reaction score
190
Agree that it's a preference thing. For me, my only problem is when the author basically ends up writing a scene twice so we can see it from both characters' POVs. Once in a while this is necessary when their POVs show something different and intriguing, though that's rare. Usually, you can find a better way to explain the other character's POV.

Yes, that is so frustrating! I beta read a manuscript (not from AW) that did this constantly. FMC would arrive at a party, spot the MMC, and go over to talk. POV switch. MMC watches the FMC arrive at the party, come over, and talk. To make it worse, both 'voices' sounded the same. It drove me nuts!
 

Hbooks

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jun 18, 2011
Messages
558
Reaction score
72
Thanks so much for the helpful answers!
 

BonafideDreamer

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 8, 2017
Messages
72
Reaction score
3
I naturally write 1 POV character/story, but I'm having to get used to writing from 2. A lot of romances do go 50/50, switching every chapter but I don't think it has to be that strict. I think the novella I just turned in is more like 30/70. How often I switched was totally story-dependent. What was happening at that moment, or whether there was a logical or natural-feeling change spot.

Sorry not to be more help.

That's such a relief to hear! That POV does not need to be 50/50 between two main characters.
 

Elizabeth George's book Write Away