Writing in multiple points of view

by Marissa

Question: I never know if I should write in first or third person. I always want to do first but I'm not always sure if it would work especially when there's multiple POVs. I've seen books written in first person but they multiple POVs but it's always only 2 people no more like the book Legend it has 2 main characters that tell the story and switches of every chapter and it's told in first person just like the Kane chronicles. But then there are books like The Mortal Instruments or Heroes of Olympus that have multiple POVs but it's in third person and they always have more than 2 characters telling the story. The only book series I've read with multiple POVs and in first person is the I am Number Four series because it's told from most of the characters and it's always in first person.

So my question is, is it ok to write in first person with multiple characters POVs? I know it would be ok with 2 characters but would it be ok with 4 or 5? I want to write a book with the POV from 4 of the characters who are the main characters and they're all separate but eventually come together and are working toward the same story and I wanted to have each POV in first person. Is that ok to do? I just wonder because I haven't seen many books with multiple POV that were in first person they're all in third and the only one I can think of that's not is I am Number Four. Is there problems with multiple POVs in first person? Will readers be confused? Or will I be ok and it will totally work for me?

Answer: There's no rule about these things. You have to decide for yourself what is right for your story, and sometimes you won't know until you've written some of it and can see how it feels.

I believe the first use of multiple POV in first
person was the epistolary novel, which is a type of novel told in the form of letters. For example, the classic novel Clarissa, written by Samuel Richardson in 1748, features half a dozen or so characters writing letters back and forth to each other, each person telling part of the story, and each person writing (naturally) from his/her own point of view.

Some things you need to consider are...

* It's important not to confuse the reader regarding whose point of view they are in. It helps if each POV character has a unique voice and if you include a few clues after each switch to orient the reader. It's also best to only switch POV characters at chapter breaks.

* Every POV character essentially becomes the main character of his/her own story, but not all their stories need to be fully or equally developed.

* Bear in mind that the more POV characters you have, the less of an intimate connection the reader experiences with any one character. The effect is to move your story closer to an objective or omniscient perspective. In other words, if you are going to sacrifice some of the connection that a single POV character offers by using multiple POVs, make sure your choice will add something of greater value to the story.

* Usually a story is more effective with one main character whose inner conflict leads to the resolution of the overall story. A common variation is to have one main character with a few minor POV characters to create dramatic irony (where the reader learns things the main character doesn't).

Although multiple POVs is usually a weaker choice, it can be the only way to tell multi-generational stories or epics. It is also sometimes done in YA an attempt to appeal to readers with a broad range of personalities -- to give each reader someone they can relate to better. Whether this strategy is works is debatable.

But as I said, these are not rules and there are plenty of exceptions.

Comments for Writing in multiple points of view

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Dec 30, 2014
by: Koda

I use many P.O.V in my stories all the time. It is easier to use different point of views in my eyes. There is a thing as using to many if u which through out one chapter. There isn't any rule so to speak but depending on the type of book your writing I'd say connecting the point views or story line would be good. I also write books with two different point of views going back and forth between to characters.

Jan 25, 2015
re: multiple povs
by: Uchiha Sasuke

Have you read my sisters keeper? its an amazing book and has like 8 different 1st person povs

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