Home » Writing » What’s your point of view on this?

What’s your point of view on this?

Deciding which point of view to use in a story is a big decision. I read somewhere once that, in a novella, you should only ever use one POV. The story is shorter and apparently it would be too confusing to the reader to have more than one.

I thought that was underestimating the reader a bit.

But, in my first two novellas I have only used one POV, from the point of my female lead character in third-person narrative. It has been a little difficult because, in my head, I tend to play out my stories like a movie, and the POV in a movie can switch often, showing the audience things that the main characters wouldn’t know. Such as, if the villain does something sneaky that the main character can’t see, if I stick to only the POV of that main character, then the audience wouldn’t know about it either. This makes it difficult when you’re trying to write a sub-plot that is subtle and relies on the reader knowing things the main character doesn’t.

As I mentioned, my next story was originally going to be a comic, and in comics POV can also change, showing things other characters couldn’t know. So, I am now having to tailor the story to fit into a novella and in one POV.

I’d also read a couple of comments over a variety of websites, where some readers say they cannot feel for the male love interest if they can’t read his POV too. I never had trouble with this, personally, but it did make me wonder whether I should be adding it.

I read a book called Starling by E.B Thompson, recently. I enjoyed it very much and it’s worth checking out if you’re in the mood for a fantasy read. In that book though, she used many different POVs at times, without changing paragraphs or breaking when a change of POV was used. You would read the thoughts of one character on something, and then the next sentence would be another’s thoughts on the situation. She marked out clearly who it was who was thinking, but there were no breaks to indicate a change of POV.

Now, I understand the rule of POV changing, and I realise that that way of doing it is supposedly ‘wrong‘. You are apparently to always break or indicate a change of POV. But I have to say I really enjoyed it. I liked being able to hear all the characters insights on something that was happening (there was a big cast of characters). It was only a line occasionally, but I didn’t find it confusing or odd at all.

I kinda wish that I could write that way.

But I won’t. Because I worry too much about the ‘rules’ 😀 If I wrote my novella as I planned out my comic, the POV would switch every other paragraph and that would be jarring to the flow of the story.

Seeing as I am already behind on my March schedule and haven’t started writing my next novella yet, I am still torn between sticking to the POV of my female lead, or splitting it between my female lead and my male love interest. But then, I would love to add my villain’s POV, because he is a complex character in himself.

Argh, so many decisions 😀

Do you have trouble deciding which POV to write? Do you have trouble connecting with characters if you can’t read their POV?

Progress Report

Status of Second Manuscript: Still editing.

March E-Book Review: Book chosen.

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42 thoughts on “What’s your point of view on this?

  1. For myself, if i’m writing a story between 3’000 and 5’000 words I stick to a single POV. If i’m writing something between 5’000 and 15’000 words then I am quite happy to write from 2 or 3 POV. However, If I’m writing a novel then its as many POV as i think is required.

    Saying that, in my latest short story (5’500 words) I have about 5 POV but the story is told from multiply points of view. Alan

    • Thanks for commenting, it’s an interesting topic I find. I guess going with instinct, and the POV that feels right for the story is best. My novellas tend to round out at about 35,000 words, so could probably do 2 POVs.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, much appreciated 🙂

  2. I have only written from 2 POVs once and it was for a short story / novella. It is hard, but basically I did every other chapter and continued with the story at every chapter break so that time wasn’t repeating, if that makes sense.

    Good luck!

  3. Im currently going through the same problem. When i planned out my 50,000 word novel I intended to have both the heroine and hero’s POV but now after reading over my first draft I’m wondering if maybe I should just stick with one, the heroine’s.

    When I read a book, I like multiple POV’s but writing in the style, so far, is making a mess out of my story. I’m not sure what I’m going to do to fix it.

    • Good luck with it! Though if your instinct is telling you something, I generally say that you should go with it. You could always rewrite those parts in the POV of your heroine and see how it reads?

      Who knew writing would have so many decisions? 😀

      Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  4. I think it depends on the flow of the story. As long as each character has something interesting to offer and drives the story onwards then multiple viewpoints can be really effective. If one is much more endearing or charismatic than the others however, it can feel like the story struggles or slows when focus shifts away from them. So I think as long as each central character is given the same amount of attention and appeal in their own right then it can absolutely work 🙂

    • You make a very good point, if one character is more interesting than another, it could make it a tad boring when the view shifts. Another thing to definately take into account.

      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  5. Oh don’t get this ‘stupid reader’ started on POV and how I can’t be trusted to understand a story if there’s too many. Duh.. As a writer I stick to two. Hero and heroine and I take the scene from the POV of the one with most to lose in that scene and I like turning a scene round to show how far off the mark the POV is with regard to the other character.

    • I do hate it when ‘professionals’ say what readers can or can’t keep up with. I am pretty sure I can handle more than one pov when reading 😀

      Thanks for commenting, always good to get opinions! 🙂

      • Well, I should add that my company has a house style. Most do. So even within the scene I can only have one change of Pov. Other companies have diff rules . I’ve seen it swing back again.

  6. Oh, I loved this post. Loved it. Personally I love reading from different POV’s. It makes the book come alive and I chuckle at the different perspectives. But it brings up a great point of when to change a POV and when is it too much.
    I use different POV’s, the hero and heroine and sometimes even the villain. I try not to do many POV’s because it’s confusing and difficult for the reader, but I do a couple. I hear you on the constraints, especially if your hero is an introvert and you want to share what’s going on for him. How do you do that if he doesn’t talk unless you use his POV?
    Great post!

    • Thank you very much 😀 It’s all these kinds of things that writers have to deal with but aren’t necessarily talked about much. I mean, there is a lot out there on writing POV and when to change etc, but it’s all ‘rules’ of writing, not just actually discussing it as real writers 😀

      Thanks for sharing your comment, it’s really good to see other writers views on it 🙂

  7. Books that switch POV in mid sentence or mid paragraph often get accused of headhopping. Some people are okay with that and some people detest it. It does make it more challenging to follow. Part two of my book switches between Sybil and her love interest, Nathan, because both their POVs were important to the overall story, but it was done with a fleuron page break or a chapter break, so as not to confuse the reader. After all, that is who I am writing for.

    • I think more than one POV can really add to a story, especially in romance. It’s really something I’m gonna have to think of before writing my next one. I knew I wanted the other ones in only one POV, but still not sure with my next one 😀

      Thanks for reading and commeting 🙂

  8. Have you considered writing in the omniscient instead? This way you can let readers in on everyone’s head if needed. Everyone says headhopping is a big no no but personally I like it. Maybe some readers find it confusing but I think it depends on how the writer handled it. For romance esp I think it actually makes you connect with both characters more instead of the disconnect that they say. I don’t know … maybe I’m just a weird reader. Lol

    • I don’t mind head-hopping either, but that might be because that’s just how my head works 😀 I don’t want to confuse my readers with POVs, but I would like some differents ones at some point. Maybe I could give it a go if I manage to write a novel-length story!

      Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  9. Gonna tag onto the end here..

    I’m of a firm belief that, as a writer, you can do whatever you want with language.. as long as it fits what you’re doing. Which…doesn’t help! Ha!

    If it’s written in third person you can quite effectively slip between POVs, I think it was Ian McEwan that did that in On Chesil Beach with an alarming (and annoying) amount of skill.

    It’s much easier on the reader if it’s a clear divide between each POV, that’s for sure, especially if you chose to write from the first person, but as long as you’re confident in what you’re doing, then go for it!

    😀

    • I’m not the most confident writer in first person, so I will probably always stick to third person narrative, I also like the flow of it a bit better 😀

      Thanks for the encouragement! It’s nice to hear the opinions of others, a lot more useful I find then looking for advice on websites and things 🙂

      • You’re welcome!

        I’ve been inspired by writers that have (slowly) taught me to trust my narrative voice, in whatever direction it wants to take, and I’m passionate that others should do the same.

        The question, really, should always be ‘why not?’ Give it a shot, and if it’s not working after you’ve tried it, you can always change it.

        😀

  10. When I started writing my latest creation for NaNoWriMo, I really didn’t give POV a lot of thought. But when I look back on the 33,000 words already written, I realize it’s all told from my heroine’s POV. So I guess it just came naturally for me.

    • Finding the most natural rhythm is best, I think. If it feels natural it will read that way. With my other novellas I knew I definitely only wanted one POV, it is a bit annoying not to be sure on my next one! 😀

      Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  11. Whatever works…works! I don’t like rules just for the sake of rules, and I don’t think that there’s right or wrong here. There are so many guidelines and definitions, and I think that the exceptions can be more intriguing than those that follow the prescribed pattern.

    Personally, I’m writing from one POV only at this stage and it’s 1st person. I might change that. I haven’t decided yet.

    • It’s always good to try out something new, right? 😀 I guess even if I want add an extra POV or take one out if it’s not working, my draft isn’t going to be set in stone.

      Thanks for the comment 🙂

  12. I don’t have trouble connecting with characters when I’m not seeing the story through their point-of-view. As for which I prefer when writing–whatever best suits the story. Sometimes what seems like the best POV to use changes the further into story development you get. You realize you need more than one POV, or maybe you realize you need to make it more personal and switch to first-person POV. Since I write thrillers, I tend to stick with third-person POV, for a single or multiple characters (though I limit it to three). At least this is what I’ve done so far. I’m sure things could change in the future. 🙂

  13. Throw the ‘rules’ out the window 😀 When I first started writing (many moons ago) I didn’t even know what POV was, but I still won awards for my stories. Now the more rules I read, the more confused I get so I try to ignore them 😉

    What I’ve learned along the way: As long as you decide the POV at the beginning of the story and try not to sway too far from that it’s fine. I mostly write in third-person POV and only have one novel that is written in first person (and it was a hard task doing this!) If you’re going to write in first person you need to ‘show’ what the other characters are thinking through their actions and words 😀

    .

  14. to heck with the rules. people ( readers) want new and interesting jump out of the box!! I prefer both views myself as a reader

  15. My recently published novella is approximately twenty-five thousand words. I wrote it the main prospective from the hero’s POV, but did alternative with heroine’s as well. I’ve read several novella’s with two POVs. Times are a changing. A few years ago, I wrote a romance in first person from the heroine’s POV alone and publishers said no first person. Now after Twilight and Shades of Gray, there’s a whole new genre of New Adult.

    • You’re right, I think the book-world really is changing, and for the better. There is a more freedom and readers want more now, they want to see different things.

      Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  16. I think it’s a difficult one. In my debut novel ‘The Inheritance’ which I published last year I wrote from the POV of two sisters, but I split the POVs into separate chapters although I didn’t alternate each chapter, one sister got more time than the other.

    I guess it depends on what you’re comfortable with doing. I haven’t really written a novella so I’m not too sure about what the customs are for writing one. If I were you I’d experiment with it. 🙂

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  18. I agree with the other comments, this was a very interesting post. I, like some of the others, don’t necessarily follow the rules. I’ve always enjoyed making my own! I think you should do what feels right. If the scene playing in your head requires a different perspective, then go for it 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • I really think it might be the case of going with what feels right for the scene, as long as it isn’t confusing and flows well in the story, I think it will be good 😀

      Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  19. I’m currently writing romances so I do tend to stay in my heroines point of view a fair, but I bring in the male’s as well. I think my stories might be a bit fuller sometimes if I just pulled little bits of POV in from other people, but that might be something I wait to do until I’m more sure of myself or until I write an epic fantasy, which I may actually do one day. Good post.

    • I know what you mean, I think in longer books it would definitely benefit having a few POVs, especially if there’s lots of characters.

      Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

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