Multiple POVs: More fun or more headaches?

How a story is told is critical to the success of the novel.  The point-of-view (POV) dramatically alters the book.  Personally, I love books written in first person; I love being completely inside a character’s head, seeing the world through their eyes, and experiencing narration through that character.  Third person often feels too detached for me; sometimes it works really, really well but half the time I feel apathetic.

That said, how do ya’ll feel about multiple POVs?  I like the idea, but I’m hesitant.  It could push the action forward nicely, but that’s a tight rope to walk.  The multiple POVs have to be done really well and really clearly.  And, if you are okay with multiple POVs, what about having one character written in first and the other written in third?  Generally, the idea of multiple POVs gives me an eye twitch but I think it could be a fun way to effectively tell a story.

Any thoughts?


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. wolfraven80
    Jul 13, 2011 @ 13:29:51

    Hey there. As it turns out I already had an account that I hadn’t been using. ;P

    I almost always use more than one POV in a third person POV story and I’m used to stories that employ multiple POVs as well. It’s very common on fantasy novels at any rate. On the other hand, young adult novels these days either have a very tight POV in the third person or (in 90% of the books I’ve read lately) a first person narrator. In fact first person narration is so pervasive in the genre right now that I’m getting kind of sick of it. It’s too much of a trend. A little narrative variety would be nice.

    A single POV can work really well but it also binds the author’s hands in a way that can cripple the plot sometimes. I think the Harry Potter novels suffer from that limitation in several places, particularly in book seven (all that camping!). In earlier novels Harry had to have visions in order to relay to the reader what the villains were up to. The same thing happens in Percy Jackson. It’s an awkward solution to the problem and one that gets old, IMO.


    • nerdywordyjana
      Jul 14, 2011 @ 00:01:00

      It definitely varies with genre. There aren’t as many novels told in 3rd person in mystery. I like having a couple of different POVs, but I think I’m more comfortable staying in one. That’s probably because of the genre I like to write too (mystery).

      And yeah, that’s the thing with only one POV: you are really tied to that character. And the flashbacks/dreams/visions thing does get old really quick. I don’t like reading those scenes as much, ya know?


  2. Emerald Barnes
    Jul 16, 2011 @ 03:27:48

    I struggled with this question myself in my second novel which is currently my WIP. The first draft had three POVs in third person, but in my current revision, I switched to first person, one POV. It was more personal and works better with the plot. I think it’s all about the story and how you feel it should be written.

    My first novel has more POVs and is third person, but I haven’t done a revision of it. Personally, I feel like it needs to be multiple POV to work, but I guess we’ll see. 🙂

    I wondered about the multiple POV where one is first person and the other third. I wanted to do it, but it felt awkward to me. I’m just not sure if I could pull it off myself, but I’m sure it would work for others.


    • nerdywordyjana
      Jul 16, 2011 @ 06:57:08

      I agree, 1st person is where I feel most comfortable. 3rd always feels forced or flat when I write it.

      Using 1st and 3rd would be really hard, but I think the effect could be really dramatic if it’s done well. Like, if I ever did it, I’d use 1st person for my main character and use 3rd when I’m with the bad guy. It’d be a nice way to show what the big bad is up to, without having the reader connect with him/her in the same way as the main character. It’s something that I’ve been toying with, but like I said, 3rd is awkward for me.

      Who knows, it could be fun! 🙂


  3. Emerald Barnes
    Jul 16, 2011 @ 08:12:55

    That’s exactly what I had in mind with my novels. First person with the main character and third with the bad guy. I think it’d work somehow because I like for people to know what he’s doing too. Otherwise, that’s all I could do. But, yes. It think it could be fun too! 🙂


  4. poetofmidnight
    Aug 06, 2011 @ 07:15:09

    Personally, I’ve never written a story in multiple POVs I’ve only written in first person. In depends on the story whether or not there should be multiple POVs. For example, a love story between two people could have two POV one for each person (Both in first person probably so that you can get into the mind of both main characters). I like the idea of first person with the protagonist and third person with the antagonist. However, it might be an interesting experiment to give the antagonist a first person POV. Sometimes getting into the head of the bad guy can be interesting because you can see not just the “how” behind all their scheming but the “why” behind it to. By seeing the feelings about the antagonist you can make him/her into a more rounded character and grasp a better understanding of why he/she opposes the antagonist. Just a thought, but I think it does depend of the story.


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