1. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    Multiple PoVs

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by prettyprettyprettygood, Dec 23, 2012.

    I have in mind a novel where the MC is a criminal. Up until now I've assumed that the story would be entirely from the MCs POV, but I've started to think that it might be good to give him an opposite number (a policeman/detective in this case) who could be an equally interesting character, and I could alternate between the 2 POVs largely on a chapter-by-chapter basis (all in 3rd person).


    My hesitation comes from the fact that often novels with multiple POVs irritate me, probably because they limit the investment I have with a single character and the jump between chapters can be jarring. Also, with only 2 MCs I wonder whether bouncing back and forth, instead of between a larger cast, would be even more annoying?


    I know it's impossible to say for sure without knowing the details of my story, and of course it depends on how well I can write, but at this point I'd be really interested to hear people's general opinions, experiences and pros/cons of reading and/or writing multiple POVs, as it would help me with my pondering :) Or if there have been discussions on this in the past (I'm sure there have) any links would be appreciated- I can't seem to get the keywords right in the search for relevant threads.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Jon Deavers
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    Jon Deavers Member

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    I had a similar question a couple weeks ago http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=58229
    and got some good feedback. I've since decided to limit my POV's to 3 (all 3rd person also). It was almost imperative for my story because of the limited info a character could provide. I think, like most things, the more elegant your story the better. If you can tell the story using one POV go for it. If you need more than that to make sure you give the reader enough info to tell the story well, then go for multiple POV's.

    Good luck with it!
     
  3. Caeben
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    Caeben Member

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    In general, I'm not bothered by multiple POVs as I enjoy being able to skip around in the world the author is building to explore different characters and scenes. There are limits to this, which I have discovered recently as I've made my way through the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. In those books, there are a lot of POV jumping around, except that there is no set list of POV characters. At a whim, the author adds in a character POV section, and there's a good chance you won't revisit that character in a while or ever.

    However, for your specific project, I would suggest looking at the book Leviathan Wakes. The book was coauthored by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, and is comprised of two POV characters, each written by one of the authors. The chapters trade back and forth between the two MCs. It could give you some insight to see the twinned MC POVs at work.
     
  4. Ian J.
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    Ian J. Active Member

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    I personally don't have a problem with reading multiple POVs, I can cope with the idea that different characters have internal feelings that relate to the story.

    In my books I will have between one and three POV MCs and also have several secondary characters in POV, that's a part of the way my stories work. I can understand some readers not liking it, but to them I'd just say they shouldn't bother reading my novels.
     
  5. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    One Jeremy Strong book I read with my son had multiple POVs, but switched them on a chapter by chapter basis. I thought that worked quite well, because after the first couple of chapters I was used to the change of POV, and was even thinking ahead during a chapter to what we'd see from the other MC's POV in the next chapter.
     
  6. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Multiple POVs make writing more difficult, because the writer has to get into the head of more than one person, and then remain consistent throughout. But at the same time, in my opinion, multiple POVs, even if it's 3rd and 1st person mix, lend themselves to more complex plot. I couldn't pull off half my scenes if I didn't have more than one POV. Actually, it is sometimes quite a challenge deciding which of your characters will be POV ones, in order to cover all the scenes well. I think that 3 POVs per novel, at least in the genres I'm writing, is sort of optimal, where the protagonist has 70% of the scenes, the second POV about 20% and third POV 10%.
    Otherwise, if you want only one POV, the natural choice would be 1st person, imo.
     
  7. Lorraine Johnson
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    Lorraine Johnson Member

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    I don't mind multiple POV's but can I strongly suggest they only change per chapter? I was trying to read War and Peace and it drove me insane how the author changed multiple times in the middle of a scene! I gave up reading it because I honestly couldn't follow.
     
  8. F.E.
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    F.E. Member

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    I had chosen to do something similar in one of my novels: a limited 3rd person POV story, around 350 pages. The protagonist is the pov character, and almost the whole novel is done in her viewpoint, except for 40 pages. Those 40 pages use an antagonist's pov, also done in limited 3rd person POV, which were spread out as three chapters.

    I start the story in my protagonist's pov. But in the early part of the story (around page 80), I inserted a chapter with the antagonist's pov--in it, the antagonist and his partner get in a rough spot and kill some innocent people in order to get out of it; I used that chapter to show how cold-blooded and dangerous the antagonist is, and in that way, the reader can now feel the danger and be concerned, and can see that danger is just over the horizon and is approaching, and in that way, feel worried for the protagonist who happens to be ignorant of the approaching danger. In the middle of the novel, I use another chapter from the antagonist's pov to show that the bad guys are now "here" and about to confront the protagonist. And again, the protagonist is unaware of the danger, although she does incidentally see the antagonist when the bad guys arrive in town. ... So, hopefully, that all will increase the tension--w.r.t. to the reader's perspective. :)

    Many genres, such as those related to romance, use the convention of dual pov characters: hero and heroine; and convention is that the prose for those two pov characters are written in limited 3rd person POV. So if you want to see/read practical successful implementations of novels using dual pov characters in limited 3rd person POV, then you might want to read some books in the romance genre.

    Good luck!
     
  9. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    My WiP is multiple PoV -- two third-person and one first-person. I don't know if it will work or not, but I'm gonna find out.
     
  10. arinth
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    arinth New Member

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    All my projects have had multiple POVs. To me it is easier to write the story with multiple POVs. I read a lot in the fantasy genre...Wheel of Time, A Song of Ice and Fire, Malazan Book of the Fallen, etc and I write in the same genre. Other genres may not have as much of a demand for it but it is something I've enjoyed both writing and reading.
     
  11. Cellardoor54
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    Cellardoor54 New Member

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    I personally love multiple POV's. I find it makes the story more compelling to bring in perspectives of multiple people with unique behaviors, voices and how they react to a situation.
    Hehe, I am actually in the midst of writing a similar story as the one you described, using my MC as the villian, but in truth he is really the protagonist and the haughty, tactful yet ruthless FBI Agent is in a wild card of her own, while the narrator is bad too, but more humane.
    Multiple POV's are great for fully disecting the scene or even the imagry around you. What some people might critique as "fair" or "horrid" another person might find a sense of sickness in the supposed "beautiful" things, but relish in amusement when something truely bad is staring that character in the face. Have fun with it! Use creativity with a sense of reality, expierement with a voice and set of own unique characters.
    Why does your detective want to find the MC? Just because its his job? Mess around with some exotic or bland traits, have fun with it!
     
  12. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think a story should have as many POVs as it needs. No more. No less. Nobody can really decide how many that is for any given story just from a little information. We can go on all day about why you shouldn't or why it's harder, but if your story needs more than one POV, than that's what it needs.

    I wouldn't recommend creating another character just to have another POV. That could feel forced. If you have another character already there who is clamoring for their own POV, then that's a little different.

    I personally don't mind different POVs as long as they are all interesting. Just one POV sometimes bores me.
     
  13. TheDoctor97
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    TheDoctor97 Member

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    I think it really all depends. A lot of it has to do with what you hope to accomplish with the multiple POVs. Are you doing it because it advances the story and tells you new things that you didn't know before, or is it just because you think that it would be cool?

    If it turns out to be the former, and it really does advance the story, I would say to do it. You have to make sure that you do it effectively though, where you have unique characters with completely different personalities and personal struggles to explore. One of my favorite books that I've read with multiple POVs was the Tale of Despereaux. That was a good book, and in the beginning especially, there were very different POV characters. If I remember correctly, they blended together as you got further along.

    I think that the least you could do would be to try. What's the worst that could happen? You have to take out a few scenes here and there? Multiple POVs can be very interesting.
     
  14. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    Don't know if you're interested, but I once read a Fanfic that used this method and it was unbelievably effective. The reader was intimately aware of the main character. Even more interesting, is that it wasn't always first person even when the main character was in the scene. It's the first and only time I've seen it done, and it was done very well.

    If you're interested in seeing how someone else did it, let me know and I'll give you the link via PM. (Links are frowned upon in the open forums, aren't they?)
     
  15. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    Thank you everybody for your thoughts! They have been very encouraging.

    I think I'm going to give the multiple PoV thing a bash; over the past couple of days I've been thinking up a second MC who I really like, who is superficially the opposite of my thief but not without his own foibles so it isn't a tale of pure good v bad. I think it will add a lot to the story, especially as the chase heats up, and as TheDoctor97 says if it doesn't work I can always change things; I might as well try it.

    Thanks again!
     
  16. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Multiple POV isn't as difficult as people make it out to be. I have multiple POV in my last novel and a second, and it's being handled just fine. Once again, like a lot of things, it falls down to writer skill.
     

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