Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Multiple Points of View

I've been thinking a lot about Multiple Points of View, or MPOV. I've always been in favor of this, but thought that the general public found it distracting. I spent a lot of time taking out the POVs in Perilous. I am thrilled that WiDo asked me to put more in.

Here's a fantastic quote I found on MPOV from a fellow author:

"Writing in multiple points of view has many advantages. It allows an author to piece together a complex story without requiring a single character to know and see everything. It makes it possible to give more information to your reader than you’ve given to your main character, which in turn makes it possible to rachet up the tension and the sense that your beloved protagonist is in danger. And finally, as my comments about omniscient voice imply, it helps with character development, by putting your reader inside the thoughts and emotions of several characters."

Boy, that just says it all! I want to make the tension more for my reader. They are privy to information that my main character is not. He mentions the benefits of a single POV as well, and I agree. I was quite pleased with the 'mystery' and 'closeness' that developed between the reader and Jaci when it was entirely her POV. There won't be quite as much mystery, and for many of my readers who were annoyed that they didn't know what was going on in the rest of the world, that will be a good thing. I will work hard to maintain that closeness! I want my readers to feel like they know Jaci!

Another website said this: "In novels the point-of-view can easily be changed at a chapter break, and 2 or 3 clearly distinguished time-lines or story-lines are juggled."

Ive had some issues with the juggling in the past. The problem with both books was that I started them in omniscient POV, not realizing it is a kiss of death. So while I'm about to add more POVs to Perilous, I'm trying to eliminate some in my other book and make the ones I have appear at predictable times. Particularly when we are switching back and forth between dimensions, it's important that the reader not spend too much time away from one dimension, and thus lose all interest in what's going on there.

However, I have noticed times when multiple POV can be distracting. Times when I feel like I never really get to know a certain character because we switch back and forth so often. How does the author find the happy medium? More on that later...


Krista said...

Great post! POV has such an impact on a story. In reading, I'm not really partial, I just want it to be handled well. No head-hopping. It confuses me and I don't get sucked in, just bounced around. :p
But in writing, I've mainly used MPOV for the exact reasons you've listed. I stick to one POV per scene, and I try to keep the number of POVs under five. I like to be organized that way.
I'm glad you're happy you get to add more POVs to your story!

sarahjayne smythe said...

Great post. I've written a lot of MPOV and really like it. It makes my beta nuts, so I'm really glad to see that sort of vindicated here. :)

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

What, Sarahjayne? Someone doesn't like MPOV? Oh, I love it.

Amen, Krista. I dont want to be confused or feel distanced from the characters.

KM said...

I love multiple POV's!! It just adds a little something extra, you know?

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

that's great to know, KM. I love them too. Though I'm going to try a book in first person next--and that's only one POV.

MT said...

Working out the POV kinks is the goal in my current editing process. Do you know any good books on the subject?

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

First of all--New Follower! *waves*

Hope you don't mind that I'm following you. I swear I mean that in a non stalkerish way. :) I just love connecting with other writers so I try to follow as many writers blogs as I can.

Thanks so much for sharing those quotes--they're awesome. I've never worked with multiple POV before, but now I kind of want to give it a try.

Happy Monday!

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

well hi, Shannon! Glad to have you!

MT--I'm not familiar w/ any books on the subject. You might be able to find some at M. Gray's blog. She usually knows what books are out!

Mary Campbell said...

I started in the omniscient pov as well - I think most beginning writers do. I like multiple points of views in books - since omniscient is no longer acceptable multiple povs is the only option. Glad to know WiDo asked you to add some.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Mary Campbell, we must've been in the same school of thought. Omniscient was all the rage. Big shock for mewhen I started trying to get published!

Francine said...


Ah, the bane of new writers: Godlike narration/bird's eye view/and standard MPOV = how to avoid head-hopping.

I stick to one POV per scene or page break * * *

That said, telephone conversations are great, because you can start with one character:

Sian lunged herself at the phone, hoping it was Harry, it wasn't . . . It was Patsy. It had to be her, of all the people to call, Patsy was the last person Sian needed right now. Oh hell . . .


'I can't believe that of Harry,' marked Sian, stomach cramping because suddenly it seemed she'd made a mistake; a big mistake.

Sian sensed elation at the other end of the line, like Patsy knew all about her and Harry, like she was turning the screw. 'I had it on good authority.'

'Look, I'm sorry Patsy, I have to go. Someone's at the door. Byee.'

'No, listen, I haven't finished . . . Damn it to hell . . . Don't cut me off.'

Patsy turned to Jake, Harry's best mate. 'That was a complete waste of time. Sian didn't bite, didn't so much as cringe when I said it's rumoured Harry's a married man.'

Patsy's brain went into overdrive. Sian and Harry? Oh my god, what have I done?

Keep going with MPOV. It's great, it opens up so much more in the way of emotional conflict!


Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Thanks, Francine! looks like everyone does that, then!

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