How do you feel about books written from multiple POV's?

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How do you feel about books written from multiple POV's?

Post by klbritt » September 23rd, 2014, 9:49 pm

I have had one of my MS completed now for about 2 years, and after a couple rounds of edits and a small round of unsuccessful queries, I've decided to rewrite the story. I LOVE the story and I feel it has a unique place in the YA industry. After starting the rewriting process, the story seemed to be better told from the POV's of two of my main characters, rather than only 1. How do you as a reader feel about this?

Have you written any of your novels this way?

Do you have any tips for writing multiple character POV (especially so one doesn't give away the farm by using both characters)?


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Re: How do you feel about books written from multiple POV's?

Post by polymath » September 25th, 2014, 10:57 pm

Stories with more than one viewpoint for young adult readers focus on themes relevant for young adult issues, the theme the interest of greatest appeal. However, one character should have a greater role than the other character or characters in at least one area, so readers care most about that character. If two characters are co-protagonists, they also should be different in strong ways. Male-female, dominant-submissive, moral-amoral, naive-savvy, by distinguishable degrees, multi-dimensionally, so that they compliment each other's strengths and weaknesses. Single viewpoint character novels appeal more to readers generally, younger readers more than older readers, though.

The Harry Potter novels focused on Potter, though Weasley and Granger as well appealed to reader segments more than Potter, as did Dumbledore and others. The stories kept in touch with Potter though others came into the spotlight from time to time. "Keep in touch" is a crucial feature for multiple viewpoint stories, and single viewpoint stories, more novels than short stories, for which multiple viewpoints are challenging to write and challenging to read. C.J. Cherryh is where "keep in touch," KIT, comes from as a writing theory.

One strategy for multiple viewpoint characters puts each in contest for the same goal, though at times at cross purposes, at times in concert, though not as nemeses. A nemesis opponent is one who along with a protagonist contests for a goal that only one can satisfy. A love interest with two suitors, for example, can only be won by one of the suitors. Only one person can become the richest person in the world, for another example. The goal is key in either case, nemesis and allies strive for the same goal. Then three main characters, one a villain, or one a nemesis, and two others.

A way to work with multiple viewpoints is to give them a single goal both cooperate to achieve. Conflict provides a guide for their cooperation. For example, both want the same outcome, different strategies for accomplishing it though, that cause them to clash at times, cooperate at other times. Life or death as a conflict, both are threatened by the same villain, for example. Conflict is the opposition of outcomes and stakes that characters face. Both want to live, the villain wants them dead, they cooperate so they might live. Life or death is one conflict of probably many possible. Acceptance or rejection, riches or rags, salvation or damnation, success or failure generally, inclusion or exclusion, comfort or strife, safety or danger, glory or ignominy, fame or mediocrity, love or indifference, sanity or madness, normal or abnormal, family or career, gainful life or wasted life, creativity or dullness, satisfaction or crisis, passion or apathy. And so on.

Ideally, decide what the multiple viewpoint characters' shared goal is, what problems get in the way of meeting the goal, what differences the characters have, identify the conflict's opposing outcomes and opposing stakes, related to young adult issues--no reason a multiple viewpoint novel cannot appeal to its intended audience.
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Re: How do you feel about books written from multiple POV's?

Post by FarawayHammer » October 8th, 2014, 10:49 pm

Polymath's detailed reply is fabulous, not much I can add. As a reader I enjoy multiple POV books, whether they feature the goodie/baddie contrast of crime thrillers or the way different people interpret the same events. The latter point fascinates me anyhow, so like anything it comes down to personal preference.

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