|Photo credit: yuan2003 on Flickr|
occurred to me that I never followed it up with a post covering the how.
A general rule of thumb I follow is to tell the story in as few POVs as possible. If you can tell the full story of your novel in a single POV, then there’s no reason to add a second or third POV (remember: nothing in your novel should be unnecessary). If, on the other hand, you need more than one POV to fully tell your story, then multiple POVs are certainly something you’ll need to consider.
Once you’ve decided that using multiple POVs is the right choice for your novel, and you’ve chosen your POV characters, the most important step is your first step: getting to know your characters.
The process is no different from getting to know your protagonist in a single POV novel, except that you’ll repeat the process with every one of your POV characters. Depending on what your first draft process is like, you can hypothetically leave a couple questions unanswered when jumping into your first draft, but by the time you’ve churned out your final draft you should know each of your POV characters equally well.
The reason this is so crucially important for multiple POV novels, is that if you don’t know one character as well as the other, rather than reading distinct voices, all of the characters start to sound like the one you know the best.
In order for a multiple POV novel to work, every POV must have his or her own distinctive voice. A reader should be able to open up a chapter, read a couple lines and figure out what character they’re reading with relative ease. If the voices start to blend together and mirror each other, you know it’s time to sit down and really get to know your characters.
One thing that has helped me with multi-POV problems is to sit down and differentiate what makes your POV characters different. I’ve found that making a list of these differences—ideological differences, varied fears and dreams, and particularly how they speak and think differently—helped me to narrow down a specific voice and focus for each POV character.
When done correctly, multiple POVs can add an extra interesting element to your WIP. The key is just to take enough time to do it effectively.
Have you ever written multiple POVs? If so, what was your experience like? If not, have you read any multi-POV novels that stuck with you?