Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Joy of Multiple Personalities...

Brock writes:

Hi Maegan,

I have a question about the use of point of view. Is it permissible to have a fluctuating point of view within a story? How about within a chapter? Don't worry I won't ask about within a paragraph or sentence. Can this be employed to heighten tension or does it evoke a tension of a different kind, the one where your reader fires the book across the room?

Finding the right POV through which to tell your story can be hard. Which do I use—first person? Close third? Omniscient third? Some say it depends on the story, but I tend to disagree. A writer needs to choose the POV that they feel most comfortable with—one that fits their voice and style.
Personally, I like a close third. This POV allows freedom (as opposed to a first person—too limiting for me) while making it possible to really focus in on your most important characters.
In my novel, The First, I employ three POVs—my protagonist, second lead, and antagonist—and I fluctuate between the three frequently. I feel that this makes for a well rounded story, offering different perspectives while allowing room to build suspense within the novel. I switch POVs within chapters, but never the same paragraph or sentence. This causes too much confusion for the reader and will get your book tossed across the room.
By employing multiple POVs, I was able to create cliffhangers—I could leave my protag in peril while fleshing out other aspects of the story through my other characters. When I introduced my antagonist’s POV (which I used sparingly), I was able to establish him firmly in the reader’s mind and leave them wondering when he’d be back. It makes for a faster paced novel, several things are happening at once and it works to pull your reader in, but…
You had to know there was a but, right?
But, it can be tricky. Never switch POVs, just for the sake of switching—there has to be a reason. To create tension. To showcase a different aspect of the story. To further the plot. These are all legit reasons to employ multiple POVs—any other reason will just piss your reader off.
Some things to consider:
1)      When employing multiple POVs, 2-3 max works best.
2)      Make sure these POVs have something to offer. Don’t choose your protagonist, his mother and the guy that works at the corner market. The characters you choose should have something to offer the story and as such, your reader.
3)      Although some might disagree, I think it’s important to start your novel off with your protag’s POV. This firmly establishes who your story is about. 

I hope this answers your question, Brock and thanks for reading!

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