Mulitple Points of View

Publishing online offers authors a chance to do things that aren't normally found in traditional publishing. I've noticed a lot of online serials that have multiple points of view. I'm trying to do the same thing and it's not working out so well. I've tried omniscient as well and it's not going so good. I was wondering

How many points of view can be maintained before the characters start losing their impact? How do you choose which characters get cut out from having their POV of told? How do you choose who's story is more important?

Arcana Dium has multiple PoV from a first person PoV, which I'm told works well for me and is also somewhat rare. Have a read through if you like to see how I've done it, there's not too much (ie. not many chapters) there.

As for how many, every character so far in AD has had atleast one chapter told from their PoV (and there's some 7-8 characters so far). I havn't had anyone complain about it yet. That said, I do prioritise some character over others. My two main characters are sisters, and even out of those two one has had more 'screentime' as it were so far.

How do you choose who's story is more important? Actually, I havn't so far. I know what ending I want (roughly), and I've a set of characters. Where things jump from that is more or less up to them... and how I'm feeling on the day that I'm writing!

I try to keep it to a minimum. Not that it makes it any more difficult to read, I can name at least one popular, published series that jumps between something like fifteen different characters.

Anyway, I think multiple perspectives can really help. You can see major character from a slightly different view, and maybe learn things about them that wouldn't come up otherwise.

Echos for example has abot 17 total viewpoints, I try to make it very clear on who it is right away. I think it works really well if you can impliment it correctly. @Tahjir thats exactly why i used the approach I did.

The Magical Brothers is written from, at this point, approximately 1,378 points of view and counting. The story is narrated from the point of view of a flock of ethereal May-Sparrows as they flap around the existence-nutrient rich environment that surrounds my character's brains. With their having a lifespan of twelve minutes, the PoV must necessarily change quite frequently, with asides from other members of the flock as they notice particular things that interest them (hand movements, uses of the word 'you', hair colors), and they must also mature, mate, and reproduce while they are narrating. That is to say, the entirety of the story comes from a PoV full of rampant interdimensional birdfucking.

Jesus, I'm feeling out of place with my single viewpoint character for the entirety of Street book one, later branching out into a staggering 3 . . .

As a reader I don't appreciate too many viewpoints. It gets very messy very quickly, not to mention hard to follow. I had a devil of a time getting into A Game of Thrones for that exact reason, although I still love the series despite this unfortunate saturation. I didn't appreciate having even MORE POVs added later on, either, especially uninteresting and unimportant ones like Hotah and the dull Kingsguard knight whose name I can't even remember.

My older work tended towards a lot of viewpoints as well as lots of shifts between them, a bad habit, trying to cram in too many things when all I needed to do to get the same volume of work at a much higher level of quality was to spend more time on the truly important characters.

So yeah, in general I prefer more focused stories that really develop a few characters rather than volley-firing loads of different ones that never get enough screen time to be interesting. Many POVs really slow down the pace of a story, getting absolutely glacial after about 5 or 6, and I for one don't want to be writing the same damned thing five years down the line. :P



@Spotty: I've read AD, it's currently on my RSS feed. I like how you alternate between the characters and it doesn't get too confusing. You need to update (if you have time and energy of course. and who am I to tell you to update. The queen of hiatus)! @[email protected] I'm dying to read more!

@Tahjir: I agree with you on the multiple POV. I've been able to convey different things about the characters that otherwise wouldn't have been revealed if it was only in one viewpoint.

@Paulgswanson: I probably need to read your story too. I found it on DA and I'm watching it. When I get the chance, I'll get caught up and see how you deal with the different POV.

@Warlocktopus: *dumbfounded* *nervous laugh* You sure know how to intrigue someone. I noticed that in the first chapter. Quite intriguing... indeed.

@Winter: That's what I'm afraid of. Alienating readers for the sake of telling all of the stories. All the characters are equally important and so are there stories, but I don't want to get so wrapped in the POV that the reader can't follow along with what's going on.

Thanks for all your suggestions and new stories to read. ^_^

I've gone through at least six different points of view in An Empire of Law, although they're all third person views. I suppose it's more like one narrator looking over the shoulder of each of my characters. Except the Foreword, which is actually a seventh point of view - an introduction from my fictional author. That's in first person. So far, no complaints. But my readers might just be too polite. ;)

I struggled with this question when I started writing Mutants. In the end I just went with the flow...I've never had complaints that I was losing character impact or anything like that, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. I think the number of PoVs depends on the story though, as a reader, I usually prefer a limited amount unless the author's really good.

As a general rule of thumb, a limited amount of anything the author isn't so good at is probably good thing ;-). Focus on what you're good at and all that.

And sorry for derailing the thread, but my goodness, I only just noticed this, your avatar is scary Sonja... Like someone snapped your neck or something...

Personally, in the two longer things that I've written, I've gone with third person limited and first person perspectives. Thus I've ended up writing things from essentially one person's point of view in each story.

I did that largely because I like the idea of keeping things simple until I get better. Why push myself to get multiple points of view right when I'm still trying to get characterization right and making the plot intelligible? For me at least, it's a matter of picking one's battles. I'm fortunate in that my stories don't seem to need multiple viewpoints so far.

@Sora: One way you might choose who is the character or characters you should focus on is by asking the question, "Who's in the most pain?" * That's the character who's having interesting things happen to him/her and whose actions in changing the situation will tend to drive the plot.

* Note: This is not my original thought. It was ripped off from Orson Scott Card.

I have to agree with this; pick your battles. You can't improve everything at once. Personally, I was just lucky that first person comes naturally to me; I can really get inside my characters head.

I however have serious problem with plotting, AD has and always had a beginning, a now, a giant hole and an ending.

Point of View is one of my strengths actually, but I guess it got a little out of hand with this story. Plotting is my problem as well. I know where I want the story to go, but I'm not sure how to get there. Like the difference between taking a shortcut and the scenic route, I tend to get hung up on the scenery of things instead of my actual destination and I usually get lost along the way (both literally and figuratively =/ )

@JZoetewey: That is good advice, but deciding who's in the most pain is what's hard. All pain is legitimate. How do you decide who's pain is more important? Especially if they all move some aspect of the plot forward.

In that situation (at least in the abstract since I haven't read your story), I'd probably think of a couple other things.

You might also consider looking at whose choices most strongly affect the story. if there's one person (or two?) like that, then that person (those people) is (are) likely to be the main character(s) (or possibly the villain...). And if they aren't, maybe they ought to be...

On the other hand, it maybe that some kind of rational analysis isn't the best choice for figuring this out... If there's a character or situation that strongly appeals to you (or appeals even slightly more than the others), it might be worth focusing on that and seeing what still remains in the story.

For me at least, finding what I'm excited about in what I'm doing is worth as much or more than thinking it through.

@Jzoetewey: Yeah, I'm trying to get the first story arc written and edited before I post. I posted last year, but I realized that I didn't have any buffers written for when life got in the way (and it did, quite often in fact)so I would type something up really quick and it wouldn't be my best work. The first arc is about 10 chapters long and I'm about half way in.

I guess the only thing I'm worried about is alienating the readers and writing from the POV that doesn't move the plot forward. At any rate, thanks for the advice. I'll just try not to worry about the readers for the moment and then when I edit, I'll edit with them in mind.

That's probably a good way to go. Second guessing what you're writing while you're doing it would tend to slow you down.

It certainly doesn't help me at any rate.

It's cool that you're working on a buffer. I need to do that someday.

:X Iv got my buffer ready, I just need to start editing the freaking thing, but its 200 pages to go through T~T. Unfortunately as I edit my buffer I also realize how much my style has improved since 5 years ago. BAH!

*sorry I got that off track* Do resume!

In any rate buffers are nice, Iv never been on a schedule before. I kind of like it. Id never be able to keep up otherwise. hehe. Ciao!

The schedule killed me at first, but that's because I didn't establish a buffer. I think if I can just focus on writing the first arc, it'll be easier to establish a schedule. I'm just so ready to post though, but that's where I went wrong the first time, posting without editing like everyone else. Unfortunately my grammar and spelling skills have been in active decline, so it didn't work out so well.

I think you should just do what works for you. The problem with writing a buffer is that I'm so critical of the first few chapters and if they're not right, I usually can't move on until I edit. I'm going to have to murder that inner editor though. =/

Ummm, this thread still about POV? I just don't want to derail this cool new schedule thing it's got going for it. Go ahead and slap me about if it's inappropriate for me to be posting on the POV topic and stuff.

Innn the past I've written in first person and third person (er, not good with terminology... I guess "limited?"), always with only one point of view. Third person with one point of view was kind of boring, and first person always screwed up my characterization (anything I wrote sounded like I was saying it. Like this forum post. Not good).

Noow I'm writing this nifty Night Switch thing with three main points of view. It's all third person but a lot of the "narration" is interwoven with character's thoughts, seamlessly at points. This sort of gives me the fun of first person without the pitfalls.

Iiii choose whom to focus on based on what parts of the story I want to reveal when, and how. For example, there was some stuff going on with one character (A) for several days of story time. I wanted the audience's first glimpse of this to be through the eyes of a different character (B)

Yeah, this is about point of view still.

I see what you are saying. I'm trying to do that as well. For example, my character (A) is knocked unconscious and then the point of view switches to the other characters and then once I get that information through, character (A) comes to and that's when things happen. At least that's my plan. I have yet to write it, but I hope it goes well.