#AuthorToolboxBlogHop: Tips for Writing Multiple POVs

Hi, everyone!

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 🙂

 movie emma stone thumbs up easy a you got this GIF

 

 

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29 thoughts on “#AuthorToolboxBlogHop: Tips for Writing Multiple POVs

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  1. My current manuscript is dual-POV, and it’s been really hard to develop distinct voices. I’m getting feedback that they are distinct, but I’m still nervous about it, because they’re sisters, and so they do have some similarities. Ah! I’ll be querying by the end of this month, so I guess we’ll see what agents have to say. Thanks for the post, Hoda!

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  2. Great post 🙂 I’ve been playing around with the idea to do dual-POV in one of my novels to ramp up the tension (not sure if it’ll make it past final edits, but I’m going to try) and now I know what to look out for. Thanks 🙂

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  3. Some great points! I especially agree with making the POVs distinct, which I think a lot of authors writing novels with multiple POVs tend to waffle up on. I think I have the most trouble defining an independent goal for the secondary POV while focusing so much on the protagonist’s goals and dilemmas. But I’m working on that. And interesting that your post this month is on multiple POV too. Great minds, lol. 😀

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  4. Great tips here. I would add checking that there is not head hopping once a POV character is chosen for a scene. It’s easy to slip into another character’s view point. A good book on POV is Deep Point of View by Marcy Kennedy, if anyone is looking for more info on this topic.

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  5. I love Stephen King who uses multiple POVs all the time, in spite of not liking multiple POVs in general. I much prefer one or maybe two at a push if the story needs it probably because I have memory and cognition issues and trying to remember the names and motivations of each character just gives me a headache. King does this so brilliantly however, I find it’s less of an issue, although there are times! Great post, although for these reasons it’s unlikely that I’d ever write a story with multiple POVs. 🙂

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  6. Your last point there is something that doesn’t get talked about enough! If the PoV character is really involved in what’s going on, I’ll probably care. If they’re watching someone else have fun, I’ll be tempted to skip their part and move on.

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  7. Great tips, thank you so much for sharing! I’m thinking about writing the sequel to my first novel in dual POV and really need tips for strengthening the second character’s story as he appeared heavily in book one but didn’t have his own POV. I’ll definitely be using your advice 🙂 And I’m entering Pitch Wars with book one, I’m so nervous and excited!!

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  8. Hi! Your last point is a good one. I’m set to write a dual POV for my next novel (after the one I just started 🙂 ) It seems difficult to me because I get so immersed in my character’s POV, I can’t imagine being able to be that immersed in two people’s voices! 🙂
    Leslie

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  9. This was a great refresher on this! I’ve been writing one-POV books for so long (in children’s fiction), I’ve almost forgotten what it was like. But I’m currently attempting a two-POV book so I for sure need this!

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  10. This is great! The WIP I’m querying is a dual POV story as well! It was nice to read through this as a sort of mental check-up of my characters. Solid points and great advice! Thank you! 😀

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  11. Thank you for this. As a reader, your post hit exactly on the issues I find frustrating. I haven’t tried multiple pov as a writer yet… developing individual voices is one of my current weaknesses. Any recommendations for how to improve in this area?

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    1. Hi Lauricia,

      I’m glad you liked the post! I think one of the better tips I can give is creating detailed background information on your character, because those facts will influence a character’s voice. So let’s say your main character is highly educated, she’ll have a good vocabulary. Whether the character is a boy or girl could also influence the voice. For example, a girl would say something like “That boy is so cute,” while a guy might say something along the lines of “That chick is so hot.” (That’s kind of a very basic and generalized example, but you get my point).

      So I guess my first advice would be to take very specific notes on your character: education, family, social class, age, etc. As I mentioned in the post, it will influence how your MC will think and talk.

      Also, their personality will greatly affect their voice. I’m currently writing a dual-POV. One MC is super positive, bubbly, friendly, patient… So all that is reflected in her voice and how she sees the world. The other MC is a pessimist with a short temper, and she’s driven by her head more than her heart. So her voice isn’t as cheerful, and she focuses more on logic than emotion.

      So the key to developing individual voices is creating fully fleshed characters. I notice when I’m writing my first drafts that the voice always grows stronger by the end, because I get a stronger sense of my character as I write. And then during revisions I go back to strengthen the beginning.

      I’ll probably create a more detailed post on the topic in the future, but I hope this was helpful 🙂

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