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The most pov's you've ever used? (1 Viewer)

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luckyscars

WF Veterans
Working on a new manuscript and realized I have nine different POV's in what will likely fall around 100,000 words. Which is about seven more than normal.

So far, I think it's alright, though will likely need a lot of work at the end. It's definitely a bit of a departure from my usual method which tends to follow 1-2 characters (usually one) very intimately from start to finish. Bit of an experiment, you could say!

What's the largest number of POV's you've used in any of your stories? With a large number of POV characters, how do you avoid 'head hopping' and still maintain 'intimacy' within a standard word count?
 

Pamelyn Casto

WF Veterans
The most I've ever managed is two, but I hope to go hog wild with p.o.v.s one day soon. I've always been impressed with how William Faulkner used fifteen points of view in his As I Lay Dying. If you haven't already, you might want to take a peek at Faulkner's method to see how he did it. (It's one of my favorite novels.) Good luck with your project.
 

Kyle R

WF Veterans
I attempted a 6-pov novel once, alternating faithfully at every chapter (A, B, C, D, E, F, A, B, C, D, E, F, etc...) but at about 40,000 words in, I began to feel overwhelmed. It felt like each of their individual arcs were only just beginning, while simultaneously nearing the midpoint of the novel. And the distance between each POV (you'd have to wait 5 chapters before seeing each character again) was beginning to feel like a gulf, as I had none of their story-lines crossing or converging.

If I were to attempt it again, I'd probably be more organic with the structure, and I'd probably try to have the characters meet early on, rather than keeping them apart. It was certainly fun diving into all those different voices. But the way I (mis)handled the technical end of it gave me headaches. :grief:
 

K.S. Crooks

Senior Member
I have written a couple stories with four and five points of view. I write in third person so changing perspectives isn't as jarring to read. I do this when the characters are apart for their training or other activities. When they come together then the perspective feels natural. Perhaps narrow down which characters need to have more page time and write from their perspective more. If a character only needs to be seen doing one task, have a short chapter and move one.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
Are you writing in omni POV and jumping between heads as you go, or are you using 3rd person limited and separating POV by scene / chapter?

My WIP uses three POV's, but they're separated by acts (act 1, 2, 3).
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
Once I tried an epistolary fantasy novel with at least five PoV (journal entries). In retrospect, I should've included more newspapers excerpts (if such a thing existed in that universe, I can't remember) letters, etc.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
Are you writing in omni POV and jumping between heads as you go, or are you using 3rd person limited and separating POV by scene / chapter?

My WIP uses three POV's, but they're separated by acts (act 1, 2, 3).

I do separate by chapters for each POV. As a reader, I don't tend to like POV changes within a scene (unless it's third person omniscient, but even then). One chapter, one POV. It's the old 'interwoven storylines' approach.

I am using first person POV for one character, third person limited for the others. Majority of the chapters so far have been the MC's in a kind of 60/40 split with 60% being the MC, 40% being 'everybody else' although there are two secondary characters who themselves occupy the majority of that 40%...it's kind of a frame of A, B, A, C, A, E, A, D, A, C, A, B, A, E, A, F, A, B, A, C pattern with 'A' being the MC and B and C the primary secondaries, then a bunch of tertiary POV's who may only have one or two scenes and are only really there to explain things that could not have been seen by A, B, C.

The idea (not explicitly stated) is that he is the narrator character follows the 'main plot' in the present and the other POV's are from the past. Not totally sure if that's a good decision but from my biased perspective it 'seems ok'. I have read other books where this is done, although those tended to have fewer POV's generally (maybe 2/3)
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
I attempted a 6-pov novel once, alternating faithfully at every chapter (A, B, C, D, E, F, A, B, C, D, E, F, etc...) but at about 40,000 words in, I began to feel overwhelmed. It felt like each of their individual arcs were only just beginning, while simultaneously nearing the midpoint of the novel. And the distance between each POV (you'd have to wait 5 chapters before seeing each character again) was beginning to feel like a gulf, as I had none of their story-lines crossing or converging.

If I were to attempt it again, I'd probably be more organic with the structure, and I'd probably try to have the characters meet early on, rather than keeping them apart. It was certainly fun diving into all those different voices. But the way I (mis)handled the technical end of it gave me headaches. :grief:

I was worried about being overwhelmed too. Still might happen, I am approaching the 40,000 word area, but I'm kind of using this as an experiment in 'see what happens'. I did outline but it was very basic this time and I used the character interview process to really try to figure out my character cast ahead which I would think is important in 'busier' novels. Basically, my goal here is to just get to the end, fully expecting to need to overhaul the thing. Trying to keep myself busy while I wait to hear back on my last manuscript :)
 

Kyle R

WF Veterans
I think it's certainly doable. As long as you're able to feel like you're still in control of it, it might end up being something awesome.

There are a few novelists that I read who found breakout success with their side project novels. I think it's because there's less psychological pressure on pieces like these, and more creative freedom to just "try whatever". :encouragement:
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
I do separate by chapters for each POV. As a reader, I don't tend to like POV changes within a scene (unless it's third person omniscient, but even then). One chapter, one POV. It's the old 'interwoven storylines' approach.

I am using first person POV for one character, third person limited for the others. Majority of the chapters so far have been the MC's in a kind of 60/40 split with 60% being the MC, 40% being 'everybody else' although there are two secondary characters who themselves occupy the majority of that 40%...it's kind of a frame of A, B, A, C, A, E, A, D, A, C, A, B, A, E, A, F, A, B, A, C pattern with 'A' being the MC and B and C the primary secondaries, then a bunch of tertiary POV's who may only have one or two scenes and are only really there to explain things that could not have been seen by A, B, C.

The idea (not explicitly stated) is that he is the narrator character follows the 'main plot' in the present and the other POV's are from the past. Not totally sure if that's a good decision but from my biased perspective it 'seems ok'. I have read other books where this is done, although those tended to have fewer POV's generally (maybe 2/3)

Intriguing - that sounds like a good approach.
 

EmmaSohan

WF Veterans
Do you mean balanced? Very unbalanced:

I was telling my story first person from the perspective of my main character, and I came upon a scene that worked better from the perspective of a character appearing only in the scene. It worked stunningly well. I got to "show" how my main character affected him. That worked so well I did that for five other scenes -- she is in the whole scene, but it's from another character's perspective, and it usually happens only once.

And that allows the main character could do something surprising, and it gives insights into the other characters.

So I made it up to seven. The point I want to make is about the lack of balance -- it seems to be an unexploited technique.
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
I've only ever done single POV novels. Honestly, I don't enjoy reading books with multiple POVs as I tend to favor one story more than the others. Once that happens, I just want to skip the other stories.

Still, I applaud your ambition.
 
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