1. dudlite
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    dudlite Member

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    Multiple Point of View Novel

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by dudlite, Jan 11, 2013.

    Hello everyone, I am planning on writing a novel that is told via 4 different POV characters. This is my first novel and after a quick google search, I learned it can be very difficult to pull off. This almost scared me away from the whole multiple p.o.v idea, but unfortunately, I am a very stubborn person and am sticking with it. I think it is the best way, maybe the only way to tell my story right, so I am asking for any tips and tricks for effective multiple pov writing. My plot will eventually push all of the p.o.v characters together, two of which are early on in the story. In honesty, the only novels I have read with multiple p.o.v is Geroge R.R Martins "A song of ice and fire" which I think he does very well.

    Yeah so to sum up, I am after some advice on multiple p.o.v writing.

    Cheers Dave.
     
  2. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Read James Michener's "The Novel", which is told from four different POV characters - the writer, the editor, the agent and the critic, one of which (the writer) is in first person, the other three in third person.
     
  3. dudlite
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    dudlite Member

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    Thank you, I will look out for it.
     
  4. Scarfe
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    Scarfe Member

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    I have read many, and the ones that grated slightly for me were the ones that slapped you around the face with the 'this is a different character' thing every time it cut to them. For example, some wildly overused trait '...lighting a cigarette'; '... while taking a toke of his cigarette', '...pointing with a nicotine stained finger', '...taking a final exhale and extinguishing his cigarette', we all know it's Mr Cigarette, stop going on about it; it is a poor substitution for a unique and interesting character.
     
  5. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I always put in a break of some sort (**** type of thing), or go by chapter. I've read a lot of books with multiple POVs and rarely find one that's confusing. Just make it a clean break, and don't fall into head hopping.
     
  6. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Gillian Flynn's books are told from multiple POVs, to give you a current, popular example. Gone Girl is told from both the husband's and wife's POV, and Dark Places is told from one character's POV, mostly in the present day, and also from 2 other characters' POVs, mostly in the past. (I haven't yet read her first novel, although it's in my to-read pile.)

    It's been a long time since I've read them, but I think Amy Tan's earlier books might have had 4 or more different POVs -- one of them (I can't remember which, because it really has been a looonng time since I read them), I believe it may have even had as many as eight -- there were 4 mothers and 4 daughters, and I think we got a couple chapters from each of them. (It might have been The Kitchen God's Wife.)

    Whenever I've read books with multiple POVs, they have been separated by chapters. I think the biggest pitfall, to remain vigilant about, is keeping the characters straight and remembering that the characters will have different levels of knowledge about certain events and different perceptions. In other words, it's important to remember that not all of the characters were present for every event and conversation, so there will be things of which they are unaware, or know only because certain things were told to them.
     
  7. BritInFrance
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    BritInFrance Active Member

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    Game of Thrones is an obvious one. At the start of each chapter is the POV characters name, so you know who's POV it is. I have read advice that it is good to do this while you write, so you don't "stray" into another characters head (you can remove the POV's name from the start of the chapter when you have finished writing it, if you want).

    The only difficulty with different POV's is to make sure you don't hop into someone elses head by mistake during a scene. But that can happen even when you are writing from just one POV - so you have to watch for it anyway. I have caught Ian Rankin doing it a couple of times in his Rebus novels (but I forgave him!).
     
  8. Show
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    First and foremost, my advice is practice writing it. Then find something that interests you that uses such a technique.
     
  9. sylvertech
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    sylvertech Active Member

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    After reading the posts I forgot what the problem is, exactly.

    Just make sure to be clear about the current character.

    The characters better be interesting enough for the reader to juggle btween them.

    Make each scene count, and vary them sufficiently.

    Martin actually manages to do this rather well, and the personalities are too complex to ever confuse.
     
  10. dudlite
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    dudlite Member

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    I am planning on separating the p.o.v by chapters. Thanks for the reply.
     
  11. dudlite
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    dudlite Member

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    @ BritinFrance

    What you said has particular relevance to the novel I am writing. One of the characters has lived a sheltered life, unaware of how the outside world is, while another is almost the opposite. Might be difficult to judge each characters levels of fear etc.. towards different characters, based on what they know.

    Thanks for the reply!
     
  12. Drusy
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    Drusy Senior Member

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    I haven't read the Game of Thrones series so I can't speak to those, but I will say that as a reader this type of writing has (historically) driven me batty. Not to put you off, obviously there are people here who have read authors who do this really well but from what I've experienced it's tricky. I agree to make each character interesting. My biggest problem has always been that the author really only develops one character really well so what happens is the reader isn't really all that interested in what characters two, three and four are up to. I suppose what I'm saying is to take the time to make each character a stand alone so that none of them feel too much like supporting characters (even if they are). Good luck! :)
     
  13. dudlite
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    dudlite Member

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    I will definitely look into reading "Gone Girl", after reading a review, it seems interesting.

    Thanks for the reply!
     
  14. dudlite
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    dudlite Member

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    @drusy

    Thank you, and you should definitely check out the Game of Thrones series. Really amazing, detailed world. :)
     
  15. blenderpie
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    George R.R. Martin's books are an obvious example, as they are awesome c:. Also, in the few books I've read of hers (maybe three?) Jodi Picoult has broken up her chapters by character's point of view and she's very commercially successful. I personally like reading stories formatted like that. Good luck.
     
  16. Scarfe
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    The Foundation series, which is unusual in that it visits each character in chronological order, sometimes jumping hundreds of years from one character to the next. Is well worth a read.
     
  17. radnommandess
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    radnommandess Member

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    I recomend Robert rankins The suburban book of the dead armageddon 3 the remake. Not only does he have 1st and 3rd pov characters he succesfully brings a 1st pov character into a 3rd pov chapter maintaining 1st pov of one character and the 3rd pov of the other. Not to everyones taste but I think the guy is an underated genius.
     
  18. FirstTimeNovelist91
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    FirstTimeNovelist91 Senior Member

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    I'm actually reading Game of Thrones and have thought about structuring my story in a similar fashion. To be honest, I think it is very difficult even for the most experienced of writers. Even with George R.R. Martin, I find myself more drawn to one story and just wanting to skim through the other story lines.
     
  19. sylvertech
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    sylvertech Active Member

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    Nah, man, now you're just being rude.
     

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