Switching POV

by Jordan
(USA)

Question: I think I am writing my novel in limited third person but the problem is that there is one part in the story that my main character cannot witness. Is it possible to switch the point of view at one point of the story? I have read books in which this switch creates a pattern throughout the story though I prefer that this only happen once in my novel. What is the best route to go? Should I alternate or is there another way? Thank you!


Answer: You can certainly find plenty of books where what you are suggesting occurs.

An obvious example: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which is told entirely from Harry's POV except for the first chapter (where Vernon Dursley and Dumbledore's points of view are used). As I recall, at least two other books in the series start out in a different POV as well.

It's actually fairly common to have a prologue written in another character's point of view that describes events that take place before the main character enters the story - and sometimes before the main character is born.

The value of this technique is that it lets you create dramatic irony - in which the reader knows something the main character does not.

Of course, you can bring your second POV character into the story more often, giving this character his/her own story arc, so that you are telling the overall story from multiple points of view, but it's not necessary.

Also, you shouldn't use multiple points of view unless you have a good reason, because sticking with one POV is usually more satisfying than switching.

Comments for Switching POV

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Jul 20, 2013
Two Antagonists
by: Betty K

My story actually revolves around two antagonists, each with his/her own problems. They are father and daughter and the title includes them both.

They are both introduced fairly soon in the story and more or less get equal time with their particular problem. The plot, as it moves forward, revolves around both of these problems.

In the end I have the one problem being solved at the beginning of part 4 and the other person's problem being solved in an epilogue. I think it works, but do you think readers will think so.

Jul 21, 2013
To Betty:
by: Glen

Do you mean antagonists or protagonists?

You can have two main or POV characters, each with their own story. The one the reader is more likely to see as the "main character" will be the one they relate to best, and the one that is most crucial in achieving the story goal. If you want to wind up the secondary story in an epilogue, I don't see a problem on the surface.

Bear in mind, it's a matter of how you do it, and someone would have to read the full manuscript to give a reliable opinion. But your feeling is also a good sign.

Mar 16, 2015
Thanks
by: Dis

Well, I can suggest you some books in which this pattern does occur in a beautiful way, even without making any significant signs for the reader. Books of Sydney Sheldon are mostly a third person style and since his novels are thrillers, he does use this technique so brilliantly.

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