5 Reasons to Write Books in Multiple POV

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If you are itching to write in multiple POV or by using various points of view, STOP! Says Zen Scribe. It’s a risky proposition.

It’s not a good idea if it is your first book and if you are trying very hard to impress your readers with your ability to create hundreds of characters. The narrative could end up being very hard to follow and your readers may get confused. The worst part is when you work so hard on various points of view and your reader identifies wiith only one character, the one you probably banked on the least.

So when do use Multiple POV?

#1.When you are writing the world’s next Epic: The most common use of Multiple POV can be seen in epics. So you have Homer cleverly writing Odyssey and Iliad using different points of view. In India’s greatest epic, the Mahabharata, there is the story of the five Pandavas and their rivals the Kauravas—each character has a story and then this extends its finger to another branch of the story tree that seems to be a never-ending handing out.


The five Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata i...

The five Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata in the Javanese wayang kulit, Indonesia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

G.R.R.Martin uses this method with good effect.

#2.When you want to show the other side: Single POV is limited and the canvas is smaller. Multiple POV works when you want to tell different sides of the story. Take for instance Faulkner’s story, The Sound and the Fury.One of the characters Benjy is mentally handicapped and Faulkner uses the stream of consciousness method to narrate his point of view. The story becomes clearer when the other characters reveal themselves; so a single point of view wouldn’t make sense.

#3.When conflict is an important part of your story: Nothing like one character who misunderstands the other and doesn’t know why. When the reader gets an insight into each character’s mind, he plays insider and this is what every reader wants- to be part of a larger narrative from which she can come and go at will. Game of Thrones works because all characters are very human, with a lot of grey areas. By changing points of view, readers get greater insight into the rivalries at play. Knowing the minds of protagonist and antagonist is a thrill a single POV book can’t provide.

#4.When you decide to write a series: Take Fifty Shades of Grey, a book written in Anastasia’s perspective, now written through Christian’s eyes. Alternate points of view provide enough meat for an entire book series if you have the rest of landscape for the book ready.

#5. When you are a planner: We don’t live in the forest anymore. We don’t pass down folk tales as we sit eyes semi-shut beneath a banyan tree with adoring children looking to us for knowledge. We write in a world where one story is submerged in another one thousand fb updates—all stories and pictures of family, friends and our favorite pages. So if you are good at planning a story, including scenes, cliffhangers, beginnings and endings, then you could contemplate writing a multi POV novel. If like to freewrite, it may take a long, long while before those characters come up with  points of view delicious enough to arrest the distracted reader.

Have you dared try the multi-POV approach? Tell us why or why not.

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