Writing in Multiple Points of View

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Many books are written from two or more points of view. When trying to decide if it’s right for your novel, be sure you consider these two points. One, does this character need their own POV? Why this character and not another? Why is it this person’s story or this person’s story to tell? Make sure you have a compelling reason. Next, a POV character needs an arc, even if it’s small. There are no hard and fast rules of writing, but it’s a good rule of thumb to only do things if there’s a reason behind it. If you’re writing from multiple points of view, make sure it’s to serve the reader’s experience.

Decide on Primary POV

You don’t only need one primary POV—your story could be a dual narrative. However, you need to decide whose story this is, first and foremost. Once you know that, it’ll be easier to decide if—and who else—should narrate. Sometimes you might include another POV for intrigue—they know something your protagonist does not. Other times they might show a side of the story your protagonist can’t see. Either way, the first step is to know who your main character is and why. You can expand from there.

Make POV Voices Different

If you choose to tell the story with multiple POVs, make sure those voices are distinct. Using a different POV should add something to the story. It should make it more mysterious or humorous or exciting. To get started, think about who each of your POV characters are. Maybe even make a list of their characteristics. Are they school-aged, unemployed, retired, working, funny, uptight—what? Then brainstorm how someone under these different circumstances would talk. What’s their worldview? Perspective? Comments on the situation?

Planning Helps

I know not everyone outlines, but sketching out your story and how and where your characters play certain roles will help. For instance, should your protagonist narrate the inciting incident, the dark moment, etc? Or would it bring more suspense if a minor character put the wheels of the story into motion? Considering your options and planning them can help some writers. So can keeping track of your characters’ traits, especially at first when you’re still trying to nail them down.


Finally, if you start your manuscript thinking you want to use many POVs but then you get stuck, reconsider. Would the story work just as well with one, or maybe two, points of view? Will you be able to show how the other characters feel without being in their heads? Does it matter? Or will some structural element of your story require you to show the reader what the protagonist cannot know? Weigh the pros and cons if it gets hard. But also don’t feel obligated to write a manuscript with multiple angles. After all, the best way to write in multiple points of view is to do so when it’s in the reader’s best interest.

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About Author

Mary is a young adult writer and archaeologist. By day she teaches at a local college, and by night she writes about the adventures of adolescence.

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