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How do handle multiple points of view? (1 Viewer)

Trying to get started on my next novel, but still undecided on POV...urg! This is where I wish writing were more of a science and some stuff was set in stone. But nooo....we have to decide on everything!

Just examined a novel by one of my favorite authors to glean some guidance. They started with five MCs each getting a POV chapter with their name under the chapter number. Then one more round without the names. Then from there, no pattern. For some chapters, the POV is split by scene. A few minor characters get their own POV for one scene in a chapter. And at Chapter 22 a new character POV is introduced and gets a whole chapter. In chapter thirty a character who only had small POV sections in previous chapters gets a whole chapter POV. Then it seems to carry on like this, with no pattern at all.

For my first novel, I used a pattern. MC#1; MC#1; MC#2; MC#1; MC#1; MC:3 and stayed with that pattern until the end, where I changed it up to MC#1; MC#2; MC#3 and then one chapter with all three broken up by conversations. Somehow using a pattern made the project so much more manageable. It's hard enough dreaming up every chapter scene, it helps to have some things previously decided.

I'm also struggling with the male or female point of view. For book one I made it easy on myself by only writing female point of view. I had checked with people if this was appropriate, and everyone agreed that there are enough great male POVs out there and that since 65% of fiction readers are women, it would be perfectly fine to stay in the female POV. So I am wondering if I should attempt to write a male POV or stay with what I already know I enjoy and can do.

Just writing this out has helped me a bit...but to help me decide, I would love to hear from some of you:

How do you handle your multiple POVs? What struggles and successes have you had? Do you use a pattern?

Also, do you have a preference in POV when reading other authors? What are your thoughts on POV patterns in general?
 
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You asked something similar before, which leads me to believe you're obsessing unnecessarily. LOL

Swap PoV in any order you need to for a compelling read.

The main issue for me in swapping PoV is maintaining timeline. Timeline is likely to be moving forward in one PoV, then backing up in the next and "catching up". That's normal. I just try to not get any one PoV TOO far in front, because any others DO need to catch up before you go back to one already written.

Write a male PoV as much as you need to. Even in Romance, which is dominated by female readers (84%), the male romantic interest seems to get equal time, from my recent reading for research. In one book, the male PoV dominated the book. It was a romance written by a man, but let's ignore that little factoid. ;-) It still hit best-seller lists. (The Christmas Train).

It's not like I'm insensitive to your angst over PoV. I've fretted over it for Moods, and still am four chapters in. Some elements of the story might be better served by multiple 3rd person PoVs, but I liked first person for the murder mystery trope. I finally decided on first, but I may be tempted to mix first and third, after reading several blogs reassuring me it won't make readers bolt.
 
You asked something similar before, which leads me to believe you're obsessing unnecessarily. LOL

Swap PoV in any order you need to for a compelling read.

The main issue for me in swapping PoV is maintaining timeline. Timeline is likely to be moving forward in one PoV, then backing up in the next and "catching up". That's normal. I just try to not get any one PoV TOO far in front, because any others DO need to catch up before you go back to one already written.

Write a male PoV as much as you need to. Even in Romance, which is dominated by female readers (84%), the male romantic interest seems to get equal time, from my recent reading for research. In one book, the male PoV dominated the book. It was a romance written by a man, but let's ignore that little factoid. ;-) It still hit best-seller lists. (The Christmas Train).

It's not like I'm insensitive to your angst over PoV. I've fretted over it for Moods, and still am four chapters in. Some elements of the story might be better served by multiple 3rd person PoVs, but I liked first person for the murder mystery trope. I finally decided on first, but I may be tempted to mix first and third, after reading several blogs reassuring me it won't make readers bolt.
I was aware I asked something similar, but that was more in relation to it changing from book 1 to 2 in a series. This is more a general question, and yes I am still thinking it through. It's the one thing, you can't really change once you get started so one needs to nail it down early on. We're allowed to be a little obsessive, aren't we? LOL

I did read one, can't remember the name where there was one character written in first and the rest in third. It was funny that when I brought this up at my book club nobody else noticed it. And it didn't seem to have any relevance like this character was not any more significant than the others. I guess the purpose of it in your case would be that you can't really use multiple first (I don't think) so if you wanted to show scenes without the MC and get into the heads of other characters, you would have no choice.

I'm still nervous about writing male POV....but perhaps I'll try it, and see how it feels. But there is something very cool about being in an all-female POV. Let's face it there are lots of predominantly male POV books. I just started re-reading James Clavell's, The Asian Saga. Up to chapter five and the only females are a ship, an "old woman", a prostitute, and someone's "wife". LOL!
 
Both HaHa and Like for your post, but unlike the previous software, I can only choose one here. Since you signed off with LOL, I went with HaHa. ;-)

You actually CAN do multiple First Person PoV, and I'll wager that's more common than mixing first and third. The first time I came across it was Robert Heinlein's "Number of the Beast", where he has two men and two women, and all four get fairly equal representation. It turns out to be an experiment he'd been mentally perambulating for more than 20 years before he wrote it! @SueC 's manuscript I'm currently reading has five! It works.

What I may do is go with two first person instead of a first and third. First for my MC, and a second first for his brother, relating events happening to my MC when he isn't conscious of his actions. I'm not QUITE to that point yet, but I'm creeping up on it. :)

Writer's "allowed" to be obsessive? I don't think you get membership to the club otherwise!
 
Trying to get started on my next novel, but still undecided on POV...urg! This is where I wish writing were more of a science and some stuff was set in stone. But nooo....we have to decide on everything!

Just examined a novel by one of my favorite authors to glean some guidance. They started with five MCs each getting a POV chapter with their name under the chapter number. Then one more round without the names. Then from there, no pattern. For some chapters, the POV is split by scene. A few minor characters get their own POV for one scene in a chapter. And at Chapter 22 a new character POV is introduced and gets a whole chapter. In chapter thirty a character who only had small POV sections in previous chapters gets a whole chapter POV. Then it seems to carry on like this, with no pattern at all.

For my first novel, I used a pattern. MC#1; MC#1; MC#2; MC#1; MC#1; MC:3 and stayed with that pattern until the end, where I changed it up to MC#1; MC#2; MC#3 and then one chapter with all three broken up by conversations. Somehow using a pattern made the project so much more manageable. It's hard enough dreaming up every chapter scene, it helps to have some things previously decided.

I'm also struggling with the male or female point of view. For book one I made it easy on myself by only writing female point of view. I had checked with people if this was appropriate, and everyone agreed that there are enough great male POVs out there and that since 65% of fiction readers are women, it would be perfectly fine to stay in the female POV. So I am wondering if I should attempt to write a male POV or stay with what I already know I enjoy and can do.

Just writing this out has helped me a bit...but to help me decide, I would love to hear from some of you:

How do you handle your multiple POVs? What struggles and successes have you had? Do you use a pattern?

Also, do you have a preference in POV when reading other authors? What are your thoughts on POV patterns in general?
Too many POV characters can be confusing for the reader. Can you reduce the number? Do some characters get more page space than others?

If you bounce around too much the reader has less chance to bond with your characters, and if they don’t bond they are less likely to care about them and the outcome of your story.

Beyond that, try to have a clear break when switching POV, and give each a unique voice.

As for writing male characters, model them on people you know and get feedback.
 
Too many POV characters can be confusing for the reader. Can you reduce the number? Do some characters get more page space than others?
Yes, I agree. Right now I'm thinking five, and yes they would get differing page space.
If you bounce around too much the reader has less chance to bond with your characters, and if they don’t bond they are less likely to care about them and the outcome of your story.

Beyond that, try to have a clear break when switching POV, and give each a unique voice.
One of the comments I got from Book 1 is that the reader loves the characters and how they each have distinct personalities. I can tell this reader relates very much to one of the characters. Based on what I know of this person, not the one I thought, interestingly enough. I think we all have multiple personalities hidden inside. As authors, we can appeal to our readers' inner natures.
As for writing male characters, model them on people you know and get feedback.
Yeah...it scares the heck out of me...but I'm going to try it. Maybe I'll post a few samples here and see what people think.
 
Yes, I agree. Right now I'm thinking five, and yes they would get differing page space.

One of the comments I got from Book 1 is that the reader loves the characters and how they each have distinct personalities. I can tell this reader relates very much to one of the characters. Based on what I know of this person, not the one I thought, interestingly enough. I think we all have multiple personalities hidden inside. As authors, we can appeal to our readers' inner natures.

Yeah...it scares the heck out of me...but I'm going to try it. Maybe I'll post a few samples here and see what people think.
YES! If I can be of any help let me know.
When I first wrote a female POV I was really nervous too, but I got lots of feedback, and now am better at it than I was before - which may not be saying much.
 
(Shhhhhhh ... There's a secret. Just always make the female character the smartest person in the room, and women NEVER complain.)
I know that secret - married for 42 years and have 2 daughters.
It's kinda funny how women authors often make a male character docile.
 
Write a male PoV as much as you need to. Even in Romance, which is dominated by female readers (84%), the male romantic interest seems to get equal time, from my recent reading for research. In one book, the male PoV dominated the book. It was a romance written by a man, but let's ignore that little factoid. ;-) It still hit best-seller lists. (The Christmas Train).
So I did some experimentation with this today. And apparently, for romance, it is preferable to use both the Heroin's and Hero's POVs. I'm not writing a pure romance, but there is romance in the book as a secondary plot. If I give POV to the male character who has a romance with the FMC, then I have to show his POV with respect to the romance. That's the part I'm struggling with. Part of the excitement of an early romance is the mystery and build-up to you know what. It feels odd to show both thought patterns. I couldn't find a good romance that has both POV equally. Does anyone have any suggestions?
What I may do is go with two first person instead of a first and third. First for my MC, and a second first for his brother, relating events happening to my MC when he isn't conscious of his actions. I'm not QUITE to that point yet, but I'm creeping up on it. :)
Did a bit more research on POV and was surprised to realize that the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, not that it is any great literary work, but very popular, is in the first person. But I also realized The Great Gatsby, often considered, the best novel ever written is in the first person. Interesting! But in both cases, the POV would be either all female or all male POV. So both are acceptable.

Not sure how this is relevant to my story, but just more information to further muddy my decision process. :rolleyes: Oy vey...
 
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I see no problem with mixing male and female POVs.
The real paydirt in a character driven story is CONTRAST.
So you need to have some kind of seperation between characters...either politically, personality, gender.... Something that sets up some kind of friction.
And when I say friction, I don;t mean that they are combative all the time.
Friction is what sparks a fire. Think Penny & Leonard; the hottie and the geek. The contrast between them is what made the relationship fun to watch (that and I could watch Kaley Cuoco read a grocery list...)

So male\female is okay. Contrast those characters, give them some material to work with.
 
...Just examined a novel by one of my favorite authors to glean some guidance. They started with five MCs each getting a POV chapter with their name under the chapter number. Then one more round without the names. Then from there, no pattern. For some chapters, the POV is split by scene. A few minor characters get their own POV for one scene in a chapter. And at Chapter 22 a new character POV is introduced and gets a whole chapter. In chapter thirty a character who only had small POV sections in previous chapters gets a whole chapter POV. Then it seems to carry on like this, with no pattern at all.
Just curious, but how can someone write a novel having multiple MC's? A main character is just that--the main, central figure around which the spokes of the story turn. Whether hero or heroine, a close second often operates as his or her buddy or sidekick in a supporting, secondary role. While POV's may take any number of head-hopping turns, the MC is usually just one character. I haven't seen the story context you're talking about, but I'd beware of other structural issues this novel might have as a result of not having an MC.

For my first novel, I used a pattern. MC#1; MC#1; MC#2; MC#1; MC#1; MC:3 and stayed with that pattern until the end, where I changed it up to MC#1; MC#2; MC#3 and then one chapter with all three broken up by conversations. Somehow using a pattern made the project so much more manageable. It's hard enough dreaming up every chapter scene, it helps to have some things previously decided.
You might ask yourself, what is this novel about? What is the defining feature or theme that characterizes this story, and who is the single character best equipped to tell the story? That doesn't mean you have to tell the story solely from that character's perspective, it just means you have one character who serves as an anchor for the reader in making the major story decisions, who most of the action turns around, and who can bring the action to a close toward the end of the book. I'm also thinking, from your POV, that there might be some confusion between POV and the role of the MC.

I'm also struggling with the male or female point of view. For book one I made it easy on myself by only writing female point of view. I had checked with people if this was appropriate, and everyone agreed that there are enough great male POVs out there and that since 65% of fiction readers are women, it would be perfectly fine to stay in the female POV. So I am wondering if I should attempt to write a male POV or stay with what I already know I enjoy and can do.
Again, what is this story about, and who might be the best person to tell this story? I'd rather think of the most appropriate character/person/actor for the job than whether one gender or another might have the better audience appeal--although that is most certainly something that could be a deciding factor. It just feels a bit artificial.

Just writing this out has helped me a bit...but to help me decide, I would love to hear from some of you:

How do you handle your multiple POVs? What struggles and successes have you had? Do you use a pattern?

Also, do you have a preference in POV when reading other authors? What are your thoughts on POV patterns in general?
Something you might be interested in, in keeping your POV's straight, is looking into how TV shows & comic books keep their scene lists organized. From what I've seen, they tend to organize by scene first, then character appearance and role, rather than focusing on who's on stage first, second, third. The scene tells us what the story at that point is about. It seems to me this 'what it's about' trumps the 'who' in the story because of its connectivity with the overall story arc, especially in stories having multiple POV participants--but there remains one character beyond the others who will have a greater impact on what the story is about than the others.

I don't mind multiple POV, so long as they're handled in a way that moves the central storyline along. I am/was experimenting with using scene lists, as I have my central A-storyline and supporting B- and C-storylines. In these, I note who appears and from whose perspective the scene will be told. While each A-, B-, and C- storyline has its own central POV character, the A-storyline character still carries burden of the story overall.

I have noted some successful patterns of association through the use of POV in keeping seemingly distant elements of the story incorporated into the main storyline, but this seems more appropriate for the screen than a novel. The screenplay has a limiting timing element and allows a narrow number of scenes in which the A, B, and C stories can unfold, and a limit to how many revisits to each thread the show might make in a season. But even the screenplay relies on a central MC. Novels are not generally as tightly written as screenplays, often have scene lists two to three times as long, and may have irregular beats. My interest in them is as a solution to some structural problems I was having in a series I am writing (in my free time--hah!) where I was asking the same questions as you. Once I slimmed down my main character to one character and slimmed down what portions of the story I was trying to tell through which secondary characters and when, that that golden thread began shining through.

I haven't tried this with my stand-alone projects, but I imagine it would help streamline things there, too. Just keep in mind what you are trying to accomplish through head-hopping. It sounds like you are drafting a plot-based, rather than character-based story. Done well, I think multiple POV's can help move the action along faster as it gives the illusion of character depth without really having to dig deep into any one character--except the MC, that is, because here the MC is more the captain of the ship than the focus of the narrative.

Just some thoughts. Hope it helps!
 
Just curious, but how can someone write a novel having multiple MC's? A main character is just that--the main, central figure around which the spokes of the story turn. Whether hero or heroine, a close second often operates as his or her buddy or sidekick in a supporting, secondary role. While POV's may take any number of head-hopping turns, the MC is usually just one character. I haven't seen the story context you're talking about, but I'd beware of other structural issues this novel might have as a result of not having an MC.
It happens all the time. In my study of Romance (before and during writing one), you pretty much always have a male main character and a female main character. Their story arcs begin as separate plots with equal importance, then at some point merge.

But not just that genre. Thrillers and mysteries often have the protagonist and the antagonist as MCs with equally important arcs. Fantasy novels often have a group of characters, each of whom contributes equally to the story. In Lord of the Rings, Frodo has the important job, but I'd have a hard time arguing against Gandalf and Aragorn as MCs. Then you have stories where two characters work in partnership.

I think there are two questions to ask. Does the character have equal "stage time" (or seems like it, anyway), and does the character have independent agency? If both answers are yes, you have a MC, no matter how many there might be.
 
It happens all the time. In my study of Romance (before and during writing one), you pretty much always have a male main character and a female main character. Their story arcs begin as separate plots with equal importance, then at some point merge.

But not just that genre. Thrillers and mysteries often have the protagonist and the antagonist as MCs with equally important arcs. Fantasy novels often have a group of characters, each of whom contributes equally to the story. In Lord of the Rings, Frodo has the important job, but I'd have a hard time arguing against Gandalf and Aragorn as MCs. Then you have stories where two characters work in partnership.

I think there are two questions to ask. Does the character have equal "stage time" (or seems like it, anyway), and does the character have independent agency? If both answers are yes, you have a MC, no matter how many there might be.
You are, of course, much more knowledgeable about these things than I, but wouldn't you agree that only one story is being told--even in the Lord of the Rings--and that, ultimately, there is one character without which this main story could not be told? Eliminate Gandalf & his voice is gone from the Elvin council; yet, there still remains the ring (unidentified now) and the evil forces searching for the ring. Eliminate Aragorn and the Fellowship of the Ring is now led by...Boromir? (& I doubt it will succeed!) But eliminate Frodo and there is no one left of a pure heart with which to carry the ring. He among all the characters is uniquely situated to carry the unfolding of the story to its end. Likewise, Frodo's nemesis, Gollum, works counter to Frodo throughout his adventure and, at the end as they wrestle atop the prominence within the volcano's caldron we see clearly that Frodo is not unlike Gollum but differs only in his penultimate decision? No other character is as finely entwined with another as are Frodo with Gollum. (There is a literary term for this...) The Main Character needs the support of secondary and tertiary characters to accomplish his mission, but the main storyline can divide into branches, each branch having a central character around which that branch can function as its 'MC' but, as it regards the work as a whole, while their stories support the main storyline theirs is not the main storyline. Therefore, neither Gandalf nor Aragorn can be the MC because their substories are interlaced into the longer narrative. Besides, wouldn't "MC" be a misnomer if it meant a plurality of leaders? I mean, by definition it means 'main' character. So while we may be at odds on 'stage time' here, I think we agree as the role of independent agency. So long as independent agency works toward the resolution of one story, then I think we also agree that each character is also--ultimately--telling just the one story.
 
The stuff I'm writing now is third person, but one hopefully will be able to see where it is from his perspective, or her perspective. I had thought about writing first person, but there is a segment that is "narrated" by a third person because her view is important in that particular section. I'm nowhere near done, and I'm planning on posting pieces of hit here for feedback.
We will see what voice speaks to me for my next writings
 
The trick of POV changes is to be clear with it when it happens. The most common method is to separate POV by chapter -
Chapter 1: Joe
Chapter 2: Suzy
...
 
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