I’m looking forward to starting this new feature, and have several topics in mind already that I hope you’ll all enjoy, and will want to pass along. I hope I don’t start off by getting into trouble with my first post. Gleep. But here it is.
Today, my POV is about . . . ready? . . . POV’s! In your books, specifically.
I’m always surprised when I hear people say they hate a book with different Points of View. Why, I wonder? Surely as they read, they wonder what’s going on in the heads of each character? Of course, it would be difficult (and probably annoying) to read a book that featured the thoughts of everybody in the story, but there’s likely plenty of room to include the thoughts of a few of the main characters. So, I’ll say it right now: I love a book that lets me see into the minds of more than one person, especially if it lets me see what the villain of the piece is thinking, now and then. Multiple points of view can enrich a story on every level for me.
This doesn’t mean a book has to have them. I’ve read entire series where the only brain I’ve been let into is the main character, and I’ve loved them. So that’s all well and good. But if a book does have multiple POV’s, and they’re done well, then that’s a whole ‘nuther kind of fun. However, the writer has to be careful not to confuse the reader, and therein lies the trick.
Here are the two keys for me. It is essential that I always know whose head I’m in, and that the person whose POV I’m enjoying never says anything they couldn’t possibly know.
In other words, when an author switches from one character’s thoughts to another, it should be very, very clear that we are “visiting” a new mind. A writer should never change horses in mid-stream, and that means they need to use a device to delineate when someone new is taking over the story. And the easiest way to do that is to start a new chapter, or at the very least, a new scene, when changing POV’s. The new chapter will be set apart automatically, and a new scene needs to be set apart as well. I like to use a divider of some sort when I’m changing scenes, usually just a pretty dingbat or a series of asterisks. Something that clearly marks the end of one scene and the beginning of another.
If you are careful to make sure it’s clear when you change POV’s, you’ll keep the reader from becoming confused. And then you just have to watch that you don’t have your characters thinking or saying something they wouldn’t know or be able to see themselves. For instance, if John is your new POV, you can’t write “John’s remarkable brown eyes reflected the firelight.” John can’t see his own eyes, remarkable or not, so he can’t know they are reflecting the firelight. That’s an observation that would be made by whoever John is talking to, and wouldn’t be in John’s mind. Therefore, don’t say it when writing from John’s POV.
And there you have it. If you are careful to set off your changes in points of view, you can use them to give your readers a wider picture of your story, and let them be engaged more closely with your various characters, especially your main two. Just be careful to delineate between each switch, and not to include things your character couldn’t possibly know or see.
If you’ve never tried writing from more than POV, I recommend giving it a chance, and see how you like it. It’s not something you have to do, but I think it’s a good idea for a writer to know how to do it in a way that works. Hopping back and forth between minds in one scene or conversation is a real bad idea, but doing multiple POV’s correctly is fun and entertaining. Hope you’ll give it a try now and then.
Do note, please, that none of the above refers to Omniscient POV. I find very few books where that is done well, as it is apparently quite difficult. I’m simply talking about changing from your protagonist’s point of view to another character.
And that’s My #MidWeekPOV for today. Just one author’s Point of View for your consideration.