You Tell Me: Point Of View

You Tell Me: Point Of View

Posted by on Oct 29, 2012 in Publishing, Writing, You Tell Me | 10 comments

Today we’re talking about books that are written from alternate Point of Views (POV). Are we for them, or against them?

Any approach to telling a story can be the right approach, but it has to be delivered in the correct manner. Sometimes an author will change POV with each chapter. Sometimes there are more than two POV’s involved in each book. And sometimes one book is told from one point of view and then the next is told from another. These are all options that work, but sometimes an author takes the wrong approach for that specific story, and it doesn’t quite pan out the way we envisioned it.

As a writer and reader, there are some very cool novelties in this. Changing the POV gives us a chance to dive into a different character’s head. Sometimes this gives us special insights and understandings, other times it changes our opinions of the character completely. And occasionally it gives the story an entirely different depth and meaning.

Now I think we can all agree that if it’s done properly, this approach can be appealing. But what I’m curious about today is what you think about it.

You Tell Me:

When you find out a book you wanted to read has alternate perspectives, does it change how you feel? Do you prefer reading a book, or a series, all told from a single POV, or are you happy to dive into a new adventure either way? And if done in multiple POV’s, is there a certain approach you prefer? (ie. No more than two POV, POV alternates with each chapters, etc.)

Of course, if your questions or comments go outside these questions, I still want to hear from you! I want to talk about any and all things Point-of-view-related today, so share your thoughts.

    10 Comments

  1. I love alternating POV’s as long as it’s done well. I don’t want to read the exact same chapter twice just because it’s written in a different voice. I want it to feel like it’s providing new information. To me, it needs to add to the story not be a tool used to increase word count! I especially love POV’s from the “bad guy” or a complicated character’s POV because I love to learn about what motivates them to be who they are! And, of course, if there’s a love story involved I enjoy knowing what they’re both thinking! For me, 2 POV’s is usually enough for most books although I’ve read a few that had more and it worked.

  2. I’m a fan of changing POV. I do agree though that it’s better if the alternate POV gives readers new information rather than repeating what you’ve just read. At least in the same book. I don’t mind it so much if it’s an ‘extra’ that the author creates for readers later. That kind of approach is a fun bonus.
    Sometimes it’s really helpful to a reader to get inside someone else’s head. I’ve found myself sympathizing with characters that I never expected to when that happens.

  3. When it comes to POV I really don’t care how it is done as long as the story is told well. But if I had to choose I would say that I love a first person POV. Because it generally allows me the chance to really fall in love with a character. And as far as having more than one POV in a book, well again, if it is done well I love it. Characters are what gets me hooked to a book and a book that allows me to see the story from another’s POV is awesome. It allows me to spread my character love! However, I don’t like it when a book goes from the first person POV to a third person POV. I recently read a book like this and it drove me batty!

    So, Matt, what is your preference when you read? Do you write in the POV that you prefer to read? Just want a little more insight!

  4. I enjoy multiple POVs for sure, but like you say, it has to be done right. A good example is Kieran Scott’s She’s So/He’s So series. It’s told from both Jake’s and Ally’s POV, and it’s wonderful. Another good alternating POV book is I Swear by Lane Davis. It switches between 4-5 POVs I believe, and it’s superbly written that way. It doesn’t work all the time, but I do enjoy seeing things from multiple POVS.

    An adult example of this would be the Jack Daniels series by JA Konrath. He writes from the MC POV (Jacqueline Daniels) and then the “bad guy” POV in all the books in this series. It makes the book so much more complex when it’s written this way because the stories have to match. I really like that.

    However, I do prefer first person POV over third person, and I prefer present tense over past tense. So.. I guess a lot of factors are at play for my preferences. But I’m honestly not that picky 🙂

  5. There are as many opinions about this very subject as leaves on a tree 🙂
    Personally, I enjoy a story told from multiple POVs, if it’s done smoothly and with purpose. To me it’s more interesting and I get pulled easier into the story when I hear it told by more than one character (or a narrator). Omnipresent POV works too, again – if it’s done in the right way. That everywhere-present narrator has a huge advantage of knowing it all and sharing it with the reader.

    My new YA novel, Forged by Greed, is written from multiple POVs. I had a couple of reviewers that didn’t enjoy that at all, while many others either liked it a lot, or simply thought of it as a natural way to tell this particular story.

  6. I like multiple points of views, as long as each chapter furthers the story and not just repeats what we already know. I’m also partial to third person limited, but I specifically dislike when alternating view points also alternate between third and first. And I prefer past over present tense.

    All that being said, as long as the story is great, I can live with nearly any method of telling it.

    Great discussion topic! =)

  7. This is something that can be very fun, if the author does it “right”! That being said. I love them! I love seeing what each character feels. MAIN CHARACTERS. The ones who have a big role in the book. I don’t want to know the pov of the guy at the gas station.. who has nothing to do with anything (Just sayin) 😉
    It gives you an in depth look into the characters minds. Helps you connect more with them more with just one pov!

  8. Like everyone else I enjoy them as long as it’s done correctly. I love being able to delve into other characters and see how they think, and it can really add some needed depth to the story. I do prefer that there only be a consistent few throughout the book though, there is no need to add random people or a whole cast of characters. I also usually prefer them to be stand alone or very short series, because while I do enjoy the pov changes I don’t really like reading them all the time.

  9. While I enjoy alternating points of view, I draw the line at 2. It always feels like they could have found a way to keep it to two but didn’t. I just ever enjoy that jumping around thing. I never bond with the characters and end up not liking the book. Just me though.

  10. A variety of POV in a novel is exciting to me. It allows me to jump in and see things from different character’s perspectives. While it may get confusing if not done well, it always gives the reader a new reason to keep reading.
    An alternate POV can help in foreshadowing, character building, story telling, you name it! You can hide some hints of the way a character might feel, giving them character and bringing them to life. You can avoid certain situations that you may not be comfortable writing about. You can show what is happening in a different part of the world. The possibilities are endless.

    I also like a single POV as you bond with the character in what is usually a much deeper way than that of multiple points of view. Having a single POV may have some drawbacks, but can also do a lot in the way of advantages over multiple POVs.

    All in all, reading is one of my favorite things to do, and so I am always more than happy to read a book that exhibits the thoughts of different characters as well as books that leave you guessing. It is all up to the author which is better.

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