Two or more main characters and their respective points of view during a chapter

by Jacob
(Fouke, Ar, USA)

Question: I have a couple of main characters and they have now met and are in the same chapter. While most of the book will be written either them together experiencing things at the same time in one chapter. Occasionally separating and becoming chapters of their own from time to time somewhere down the line. My question is when they are together and in the same chapter is it OK to go back and forth between the two?

Example is one goes to one side of the room to speak to someone and have that conversation, while the other stays at a table and is oblivious to what the other is doing at the same time.

Answer: The challenge with this type of scene is that it can be disconcerting for the reader to be yanked back and forth between two perspectives.

You may be better off to write the scene from the perspective of one character from start to end, if possible.

If there's a conversation which your POV character does not hear but is important, you may then insert a chapter break or perhaps a section break and write the scene again from the second character's perspective, focusing on the parts which the first character didn't witness.

You might make the scene more interesting by adding a little suspense. For instance, the first character might notice some things from a distance that don't quite add up and only makes sense when the scene is retold from the second character's POV.

You might also consider ending the first telling of the scene with a cliffhanger, which is then resolved at the end of the second telling. Try not to repeat material in the two tellings.

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Nov 04, 2014
A bit confused.
by: Jacob

Sorry but I'm a bit lost on what you mean by a line break and how it would apply. I understand what you mean as far as one character seeing what the other is doing but how would I imply what the other character is actually doing without rewriting another chapter from the other character. Could you give me an example please. Sorry and thank you for the quick response.

Nov 05, 2014
Section break
by: Glen

I said "section break," not "line break." Sometimes writers will put a section break within a chapter to mark a shift in scene (time and/or location). The same technique can also be used to mark a shift in POV, for instance if you want to jump back to the start of the scene and retell it from another POV.

In a published book, a section break is indicated by a blank line. In a manuscript, you would insert an extra carriage return and put a hash character ("#") in the centre of the line to indicate to the editor that you intend for that line to be left blank and didn't just hit the return button twice by mistake.

Using a section break to change POV is something that should be done only rarely. In fact, it is better to use a chapter break. I just mention it as an option.

Nov 05, 2014
Thank you
by: Anonymous

Yes I miss read it. That makes much more sense and I looked up some books for examples. Thank you for the help!

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