For this month’s #AuthorToolboxBlogHop, I’d like to talk about writing multiple POVs. Recently, I’ve seen a lot of submissions with multiple POVs and I noted almost the same issues in all of them (for those of you who are new, I’m an editorial intern at Entangled Publishing). So today, I’d like to share some tips for writing multiple perspectives.
- The voices should be distinct: One thing I most often note is that the voices aren’t distinct enough, meaning that if I didn’t check at the beginning of the chapter for whose POV we were in, I’d have no idea who was talking. I should be able to know whose POV we’re in just by reading, not by being told. How your characters talk will depend on a variety of factors: age, education, personality, backgrounds, etc. So it’s important to actually know all these things about your characters. When they’re fully fleshed, it’s much easier to give them distinct voices.
- Each character needs to have their own goals and purpose: Another common factor I notice is that there’s always one POV weaker than the other. So there’s one character (character A) who has strong and clear goals that they’re consistently working toward, and the other (character B)…doesn’t. It’s like character B is only there to comment and reflect on character A’s journey. In these cases, I recommend either: cutting character B’s POV entirely, or going back to give character B a stronger storyline. This will depend on whether or not I think multiple POVs is necessary. Sometimes, it’s better to stick with one POV. So it’s important to ask of all characters: do they have a strong external goal, are they working toward it, and will there be consequences if they fail?
- Usually, there should be a balance: Sometimes one character’s (A) POV will take up 70% of the novel, and the other character’s (B) POV will only take up 30%. This relates to the previous point where one character’s storyline is significantly weaker than the other. In this case, I would recommend cutting character B’s POV and instead focus on deepening character A’s POV.
- Make sure we’re in the POV of the character most affected by the events: If character A is the one most affected by what’s going on in the scene, if they’re the one with most at stake, don’t write from the POV of character B.
And that’s it! I hope this was helpful, and good luck to everyone preparing for Pitch Wars 🙂