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Writing Life

Multiple POVs

I do not remember when the choice to switch to multiple point of views in my writing started. I do know that when I started writing as a kid, everything I wrote was in first person. Perhaps it was because it felt natural to write things with "I". After all, essays in elementary school are always about writing about yourself. Later on, I discovered that it’s difficult for me to write in first person without seeping into my characters. It is a struggle. I’m better and definitely on guard to be conscious of this when I do write in first person (which is mostly limited to my short stories) so naturally my first novel was written not only in third person but third person multiple povs. 

Writing in third person omniscient was "freeing". It also made me lazy. It became a cop out. If my main character had to know what X was thinking or something X did was crucial to the plot, I threw in X’s POV. Soon, my story  had too many point of views.  This was one of the things that I took a major swing at during rewrites.

Now, I have two major characters with point of views (and one minor character’s point of view that appears every couple of chapters) compared to four main POVs and I dont even know how many minor characters were floating around.

Even with this cut, I can’t help but wonder whether my story will reach it’s best potential being told entirely from one point of view.

So how do you know whether your story is best told through one point of view (third person limited) or multiple point of views?

Are there any good books on writing/writing craft that help with this decision?

Do you struggle with this choice or does the voice the story is to be told in come to you  and is pretty much fixed?



4 thoughts on “Multiple POVs

  1. I think that’s one of the beauties about writing – tossing and turning between which POV to write to express your characters. First person is probably the POV that we master first. At elementary we were made (well, in Australia) to write a journal every year.

    Then I started writing fanfics and switched to writing in third person. Wrote in third person for years. I decided to challenge myself and write in first person again & then it took me a while to get back in my comfort zone, writing in third. I think it’s confusing and frustrating, but when you have the plot and characters in your head I guess you eventually realise which POV suits your story the most.

    My opinion. Haha.

    I used to be so against first person because I actually thought it was more lazy back then. It’s ironic how you found third person lazy. I think my opinion changed when I read this really good fanfic which had four protagonists and written from all four of their point of views in a comedic style.

    In the end of the day, either work for me! 🙂


    Posted by stringless_kite | October 9, 2010, 1:17 PM
    • Yeah first person & third person has its advantages and disadvantages. The downside for me with first person I felt I couldn’t explore characters as much as I wanted to and I always felt like I would put parts of myself into the character without realizing it, I found it hard to distance. Meanwhile with third person, if I didn’t check myself I could go overboard with povs. Most of the romantic suspense/mystery novels I read are third multiple pov stories ( I admire Iris Johansen /Suzanne Brockmann).
      You are right. I have to figure out which POV suits my story the most.


      Posted by mdirvine | October 9, 2010, 6:06 PM
  2. Speaking from experience, I think multiple POVs can definitely work – you just have to be really careful. My thesis was told from three POVs, but to make things coherent, I had part one be told by one person, part two by another, and part three by another still. I made sure that actions that occurred in part one had ramifications in parts two and three, so there was something to connect everyone. There were some questions posed in part one that weren’t answered until part three, but I think, as long as everything can be connected at SOME point, you’re fine.

    Did that make sense? I feel like I just rambled, lol.


    Posted by randomlaughter | October 9, 2010, 3:50 PM
    • Hey. yes you made sense 🙂 I’ve read the first few chapters of TANGO that you had put up and you also mentioned this then. Being coherent & cohesive is key then. Did you plan to have it written in three parts all along as opposed to alternating parts because you wanted the story to be coherent and maybe each voice distinct. One thing I noticed at least in my writing is that sometimes when I had chapters alternating between three major characters I would lose the “voice” of one of them over the other. I guess it also depends on the story and what works best. I think I need a few days to mull over this, go through my outline, and see what’s the best way to move forward 🙂 Thanks for the comment!


      Posted by mdirvine | October 9, 2010, 6:47 PM

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