Different POVs for Part 1 and Part 2

Hi, I'd like to have two parts to my book: Part 1 would be from one character's point of view, and Part 2 would pick up the story some time later from another character's point of view.


I think I've settled on third-person limited for both POVs, but even so, do you think readers might feel...cheated or tricked when the POV switches halfway through the story? And are there any other potential issues I should consider before going through with it?

I would clearly label Part 1 with that character's name so readers will have a heads-up that the POV will change. Thank you!

Answer: What you're proposing is one way of writing a multiple point-of-view novel. One comes across many successful novels that are variations on this approach.

Something to consider when you have two point-of-view characters, both of whom occupy major amounts of story space, is that each of them needs to have his own story, his own complete journey. Their stories may overlap and each character may contribute to the overall story of the novel, but their individual stories need to express complete arcs in themselves.

Where readers can feel cheated is if the first character's story is left incomplete -- if his/her inner conflict is left unresolved. By the time the break occurs, the readers should be quite attached to the first character and will want to see the resolution of his story. (With the second character, his/her personal story will presumably be resolved in the final chapters along with the overall plot.)

You have several options to make sure the first character's story resolves...

1. Bring his story to a resolution before you begin the second character's story. This may be easier if both characters' stories are supposed to be happening simultaneously. (So the second character's story fills in the missing pieces from the first part or adds another layer of understanding.)

2. Find a way to put a resolution to the first character's story near the end of the book. For example, the second character could stumble across a message, diary, blog post, etc. written by the first character that illustrates his resolution.

3. Put the first character's resolution into an epilogue. In other words, switch back to his point of view briefly at the end.

(Numbers 2 and 3 would mean keeping the reader in some suspense during Part 2 regarding what happens to the first character, which could be effective.)

4. Another approach is to have two completely separate stories whose only connection may be that they take place in the same story world or that they share a particular theme or motif. In other words, there is no overall plot that connects both stories so you have two standalone novellas. Examples of this approach include David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, Frank Miller's Sin City, or Stephen King's Different Seasons (though admittedly, these books feature more than two point-of-view characters).

The downside to number 4 is that the reader does not get to develop as close a connection to any one character. The result is somewhat a cross between a novel and an anthology. However, this approach can still be quite successful.

Comments for Different POVs for Part 1 and Part 2

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Jul 17, 2015
Question Clarification
by: Liza

Thanks so much for your response! I should clarify: both characters appear in each other's POV.

In Part 1, the two characters meet, the plot progresses, and then a very tragic event occurs. Character 1 is the most affected by said tragic event, though both characters' arcs are changed because of it. Close curtains. In Part 2, about two years have passed. The two characters haven't seen each other all this time, but then they meet up again and need to navigate their relationship with the tragic event looming over them.

So the readers get the whole plot story, it's just a matter of whose perspective it's from. Character 1's inner conflict does get resolved in Part 2, but we see that only through Character 2's eyes. I thought it would be more effective to show Character 1's angst and ultimate growth through someone else's perspective. There's also some question as to Character 1's identity when the two first see each other again. Character 2 has a unique character arc as well, so it's not as if that'll be a dull character.

Jul 17, 2015
In that case...
by: Glen

The challenge I see is that it may be difficult for the reader to see the resolution of the first character's inner conflict if the reader is not seeing the story from his perspective. The second character can only guess what the first character's experience is based on externals, so the reader's experience would be less direct. The second character cannot actually know what's in the first character's mind. But maybe you have an idea of how it may work...

Jul 18, 2015
Inner Conflict Resolution
by: Liza

Well, as Part 2 progresses, the two characters will hash out everything from what led to the tragic event, to the event itself, to how they chose to lead their lives up to the present moment. There will be reflective moments as well as heated arguments, and although the two will be cautious with each other at first, they will ultimately share with one another their truest, most vulnerable selves. So although readers won't be in Character 1's head, they'll still be privy to his thoughts, feelings, etc.

Are you still concerned about the readers' understanding of Character 1's inner conflict resolution?

I should add that Character 2 is also closer to the action of the subplot, which will be more prominent in Part 2, and another consideration for switching POVs. I apologize for adding in these details belatedly - there are a lot of elements to the story, and I'm still pinning it all down in my head!

Thank you so much for the tips, I really appreciate your taking the time.

I have another question, pertaining to plot, but I'll ask it as a separate thread so other visitors who are interested in that can more easily find it.

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