Writing a novel with multiple points of view can be an incredibly difficult task, even for the most experienced author. A novel with more than one pov has certain requirements: each pov must be interesting and the pov must broaden the narrative world, for example. Most importantly, each point of view must have its own unique voice.
So how do you make the character voices different for each pov? Let’s take a closer look:
Pre-write Character Sketches
Novels with multiple points of view tend to lend themselves to a fair amount of pre-writing. Beyond just keeping the storylines straight, pre-writing can help you flesh out your characters more concretely. By taking the time to do character development in advance, you’ll have a stronger idea of who each pov character is and what makes them unique.
The unique aspect of each character is the most important part of developing a character’s voice. A cowboy at heart would not approach a situation the same way an urban-dwelling fashion designer would, for example. The character’s backstory will influence and affect how they view the world and how they sound. That sound will be the foundation of different speech patterns and character ticks.
Give Each Character a Journey
Regardless of how you view the pov character in relation to another character, it’s important to remember that by switching pov you’re giving that character a chance to speak. More specifically, when you’re in one character’s pov they are the protagonist.
As such, each pov has to be on some specific character journey. They will have goals, motivations, and view the events of the novel from an entirely different perspective than another character will. How they view those events will shape the journey that pov character is on.
Decide Who Tells What
Despite the fact that the events of the novel are happening to each pov character, it’s pretty important to the pacing for the story to continue. Scenes should be told by one character and not repeated through the eyes of other characters. (Though, obviously, other pov characters can reflect on what happened later.) Just try not to repeat the scene!
As the writer, you know better than anyone who is the right character to tell us about a particular scene. The voice of the scene will have a huge impact on how your reader perceives it, so this is not something to be taken lightly. Think carefully on why you’re presenting a scene through a particular pov and use that to your advantage.
Remember: writing a novel with multiple points of view can make for wonderful story-telling opportunities. In some genres, like fantasy and romance, multiple points of view are even considered standard. But without a strong character voice for each pov, you risk alienating the reader from your characters by creating distance from a central protagonist. Take the time to do your homework, go deep into character development, and then make each voice shine.