point of view

by Jeremy Eger
(Deering )

Question Is it okay to switch point of view frequently to different characters, if they are split up, or is it necessary to stay in one place at all time?

Answer: You can use multiple points of view. You just have to be careful about it. It's especially important that you not confuse or disconcert your reader. Some suggestions...

Try not to switch too often. Switching at chapter breaks only is a good guideline. If you must change during a chapter, indicate the break clearly. Don't start switching multiple times each chapter.

Each time you switch, provide clues to let the reader know whose head they are now in. You want to orient them as soon as possible so they don't get confused. You might try using a different tone or voice for each point-of-view character.

Limit the number of point of view characters to only those who you really want to develop, whose stories are important to the novel. If you can tell the story with one main character, do so. Perhaps two, if it's romance and you want to develop both leads. More than three POV characters starts to become challenging, because you won't have space to develop their stories as well, and the frequent switches can become confusing.

Bear in mind that readers like to latch onto one main character who they can empathize with. Too much jumping around to different POVs makes it harder for the reader to develop a close empathy with any one character.

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