Sunday, October 24, 2010

Choosing your PoV(s)

I admit I have never managed to write an entire novel from a single Point of View. I write with large casts of characters. Sometimes it is because my plot spans major events in my fantasy world, but not always. Even in a small-ish setting, such as a single city, I end up with a large cast of significant characters.

If I let myself go wild, I would have a dozen different PoVs all the time.

Restricting myself is always hard. I have to abandon characters I love and let them evolve only in the background. I could use omniscient, of course, but I feel that requires a certain level of skill I've yet to attain. I prefer to stick with third limited, with one character for every scene.

How to choose, though?

I feel every PoV should count. It should be so essential to the story that if you remove it, the novel no longer makes sense. How do you determine that? What a PoV brings is not limited to its influence on the plot. When considering PoVs, I ask myself a few questions, and here they are for your enjoyment.

- Could every information a PoV bring be told in another scene?
- What is the purpose of this knowledge? Is it only to raise tension, to let the reader know something the character doesn't? I personally don't think that is always a good idea.
- How is this PoV's personality compared to the other PoVs? Does the character have an unique voice?
- Are there other things about the PoV that makes it unique? Is s/he from another country? Another social standing? Does he bring something fresh to the story? Is s/he the antagonist?

One of the main reasons I enjoy different PoV is those last questions. I'm a firm believer in approaching a conflict from multiple angles. A single PoV introduces a bias I don't like. On the other hand, I love to have a few characters with strong and contradicting bias. I like to think it adds a depth to my story.


  1. Even in multiple POV stories, I feel like there is often a main POV, and that's driven by the basic question: whose story is this? Because a different character would have a different story. That being said, my novel has two POV characters - the boy and girl in a love story, both equal. :)

  2. Aah, but I'm not sure every novel is a single character's story. It's strange, because while my writing is driven by characters, the overarching story isn't always of that character.

    EDINGHER, for example, is not Prince Heike's story. It's more Edingher's (the kingdom) growth from a military country to a more culture-inclined one. Heike is the main motor behind this.

    But, yes, very often, one character will be more important than others.