Essential Tips for Writing Multiple POV Novels
Many popular fiction books tell their stories through multiple points of views (POVs). Readers widely consume it. Widely written? Not so much. That is because telling your story through numerous POV involves tricky work and it could go horribly wrong if you do not know how to do it right.
This, however, does not mean you should stop yourself from trying it out. PaperTrue encourages you to experiment, try out new things, and explore your full writing potential. So, in this blog post, we inform you, without making it complicated, about the why and how of writing a novel through multiple POVs.
WHEN TO USE MULTIPLE POVs?
- Your story must be told from multiple perspectives. Some stories are more deeply realized when several people tell the same story, adding different elements to the larger picture. It helps when each character fits a unique piece to a larger puzzle.
- Each character is compelling and requires his or her own narrative arc. Writers confuse secondary or supporting characters for co-protagonists. (A true co-protagonist always has his own narrative arc)[LINK]. This other character must possess his unique personal motives and undergo a journey of transformation related to the larger plot.
- Your story spans across a range of time and history. If you’re story sweeps across time and borders, it can feel limited if narrated through a single person’s perspective. A story becomes less pertinent if the main character, who is not alive anymore, still narrates what is happening in the present day.
- You want your book to have a compelling pace Multiple character POVs have the power to ensure readers turn to the next page. If you end one character’s scene with a cliff-hanger situation, you can create a yearning in the readers’ mind to know what happens next.
WHAT SHOULD BE THE PREFERRED POV?
First, let us make it clear what POV is. Simply defined, POV is the narrator’s position in the description of events. There are so many to choose from: first person, third person limited, third person omniscient, and second person.
With regard to which POV you should use, that is entirely up to you. The decision should be based on what you feel would be best for your story.
A third person story, remember, is told by a narrator (someone who is not a character in the story), and it seems perfectly natural for this narrator to slip inside the character of multiple skins. Virtually every novel which features two or more viewpoint characters is written in the third person POV because it is the most logical viewpoint to use.
Third person omniscient is your best bet when writing through multiple character POVs. This is where the narrator is God-like, in that they know what individual characters are thinking and feeling and can switch between their private thoughts.
The most prominent mistake writers commit in the third person is head hopping. When you switch POV characters too quickly or dive into the heads of too many characters at once, you could be in danger of what editors call “head hopping.”
When the narrator switches from one character’s thoughts to another’s too quickly, it can annoy the reader and break the intimacy with the scene’s main character.
WHEN AND HOW TO SWITCH VIEWPOINTS
When writing through multiple POVs, you need to clearly transition between perspectives. You’ll want to know how to make this switch from one viewpoint character to another without committing the deadly sin: confusing the reader.
While making this switch, your job as a professional writer is to make the transition as seamless for your readers as you can.
When writing multiple POVs, you need to clearly transition between perspectives. You’ll want to know how to make this switch from one viewpoint character to another without committing the above-mentioned error: confusing the reader.
Practically, it should be evident in the first paragraph – and preferably in the very first line – that another character has to come into play.
This is because it gets annoying for readers when they’re a page or two into a new chapter before they realize that they are no longer looking through the mother’s eyes, for example, but the daughter’s.
The easiest and most common method to deal with this issue is alternating between POV characters across chapters, that is, writing one chapter from one character’s perspective, beginning the next one from another character’s perspective, and so on. This way, you steer clear of head hopping in any way.
The next best is switching viewpoints during a break within a chapter. This could be denoted by a line, asterisk or white space.
Finally, you can submit your draft to PaperTrue for impeccable editing and proofreading to be thoroughly convinced yourself that everything is, indeed, in order. Our editors are always available to provide you with content level feedback and would love to hear your story!
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