Point of View – which is best?


Recently I submitted a brief breakdown of scenes of the first chapter of my WIP. While the feedback was great, it was pointed out that not all scenes were in the Protagonist’s Point of View. The feedback went on to explain that it is more difficult to write from a multiple POV. The risk is that the reader may no longer relate to the protagonist, and indeed might lose any empathy for this character. This is especially difficult for a novice writer and I might want to rethink the scenes in question.

This was sage advice, however I had not deliberately set out to write this way, in fact I did not realize I had until then. Naturally I was concerned but as I read through my scenes and placed them in the big picture of my story, I began to wonder if they shouldn’t stay. In this novel I include several characters whose lives interact with both the protagonist and antagonist. Their own stories play out around these two. My challenge then is to keep to the rules of this POV and not confuse or bore the readers.

What to do? So off to the bookshelf to dust off the books on writing, and of course to the trusty Internet to seek answers, the rules… and maybe justification. There are many and varied websites and one I found particularly helpful is http://www.scribophile.com and of course I also checked in with Orson Scott Card, author of Characters & Viewpoint.

Nowhere did I find a commandment telling me Thou shall not write multiple third person POV because you are a novice writer. But I did find rules so I don’t stuff it up.

Salient Points

  • Multiple POV provides the ability to be inside each character’s head, to grow that character and for the reader to get intimate with that character
  • Not all of the characters need their own scene
  • The writer can build suspense by revealing something the protagonist doesn’t know, like watching the teenager about to walk through the door and we know the crazy guy with the chainsaw is waiting on the other side.
  • Rule of thumb – stick to one POV per scene, don’t head-hop by mistake – the writer must stay in the one character’s head for the whole scene.

So I guess my research has validated my subconscious choice, but will this prove to be my downfall when it comes to publishing my novel? Stay tuned.


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