It’s all in the Point of View

Dear esteemed writerly fellows, I have a POV question!

I’m in the process of outlining The Armageddon Showdown Book II (yes, and still editing Book I), and am trying to decide which POV to use.

Book I was third-person limited, which worked quite well, however I am toying with third-person multiple (albeit limited to two characters), for Book II.

My questions are as follows:

  • In a series, should you (or have you) followed the same POV format as in previous books in the series? *Note: the character who provided the third-person limited POV in Book I will not be appearing in Book II, so I’m forced to use a new character’s POV regardless.

  • Is it worth writing third-person multiple POV throughout the entire book because of two scenes that I’d really like to play out through the eyes of a particular character? Don’t get me wrong, I will give this character more scenes if I do decide to use his POV as well as the other character’s… but I had originally planned to use just her POV.

  • If you’ve written third-person multiple, how did you differentiate POVs between chapters / scenes? Did you title the chapter after the POV character (as per George Martin’s GoT series)? Or did you leave it up to the reader to figure out whose POV they’re now in?

  • If you have written in third-person limited POV and have something happen that your POV character isn’t involved in, how did you explain the ‘off camera’ action.
    • For example, a scene involves an intimate murder and I wanted to write it from the murderer’s perspective as he’s murdering the victim. My POV character is elsewhere. I know I can have the POV character find the dead body and deduce the murder, but I really wanted to show this murder happening (for reasons I can’t go into for fear of spoilers!) – Hence why I want the murderer to also be a POV character throughout the Book. 


Tell me, what do you think?


35 thoughts on “It’s all in the Point of View

  1. I just finished reading a mystery novel that made clear breaks in POV by using chapter headings (so we readers knew the setting and thus which character we were following). The author also started the chapters with something like, “Susan surveyed the parking lot,” so we immediately knew from the first sentence whose head we were in.

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  2. I am not that experienced with writing, Jessica, however, I have written my new book in multiple POV and the developmental editor said it was fine so long as you don’t muddle them up in one section i.e. you need to separate them. I have more or less done that and am now ensuring I have done it everywhere.

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  3. If you’re in the third person, it should be easy to establish whose point of view we’re following by using a name. I wouldn’t leave the reader wondering about that. It’s likely to come off simply as murky and uncontrolled.

    I’ve seen multiple points of view handled any number of different ways–with a regular rotation, with one or two brief intrusions, with an introduction of a pov that never returns. They can all work and they can all be problematic. It depends on how well they’re handled.

    Multiple points of view do tend to slow the momentum down. Each time you change, you start someplace new instead of moving forward, which in a high-speed book is something to think about. I tend to ask myself whether the book really is a choral piece or a solo. If it’s a solo, I’ll try to write it as a solo. And having said that, I just got done breaking my own rule and inserting a longish section with a different point of view into the middle of a novel. It’s from a character who’s central to all the others and there’s no way to enter that time period without her, but I did–and do–wonder if it’s a good idea.

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    1. Thanks for your input Ellen. I too have read books which are marching along from one POV then switch to someone else’s for a chapter or two, then back to the main POV… and the other one never seen again. Not sure if I’m a fan of it… I think it’s all in how skilful the writer is in pulling it off.

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  4. I am not a writer of novels as you know.
    I would say in the most logical way, if and when you do need to change POV you could use the easy device such as calling your chapter “So and So’s name: The Murder” obviously NOT that exactly, but you get what I mean.
    Or what I really thought when I read this whole thing of yours was that you are a talented enough writer to convey who is talking and whose thoughts we are hearing purely through your writing. Readers are more intuitive than you think and we do have the urge to over explain everything to make sure everyone knows what’s going on but I’m sure that Bill, for argument’s sake, doesn’t “sound” like Bob when he talks or thinks so your readers should know and go Ah…so BILL is murdering Merril with such aplomb, not Bob!
    Makes sense?
    Okay just reread the post again. About the whole murderer not being present, how about this.
    You have your chapter where your character whose POV we’re familiar with finds the body etc. You finish that chapter after he’s presumably Sherlock Holmes-ed the whole scene. Then how about you do a short chapter directly after that, called something cryptic and clever and you play out the murder through the killer’s eyes and draw similarities or correct deductions or even INCORRECT ones with what the POV character just discovered. Then end that short chapter abruptly, as though we did indeed have a peek behind the scenes.
    In my head this is a great idea, not sure how I’ve expressed it.

    Okay many cuddles

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, thanks lovely for your long reply!! You’ve given me a good idea about imagining the murder through someone else’s eyes as a way of getting around the murderer actually having his own POV. Going to have to think on this some more 🤔
      Thanks for your help ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My pleasure. Glad it made sense!
        Actually what you’re saying here would work. The best detectives always imagine the scene and play it out trying to get inside the killer’s head.

        You have to let me know how your idea pans out, I’m soo invested now!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. When I first started writing, I was worried about ‘head hopping’, giving a point of view from the perspective of different characters. I then discovered that many successful novelists, past and present, use head hopping. Now I just tell the story and I don’t worry too much about the POV as long as I’m consistent.

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  6. Looks like I’m late to the party, but you’ve gotten some great advice. Don’t be afraid to introduce a new POV if the story benefits. Some people even write multiple POV in first person. I once wrote a whole chapter from a dog’s POV.

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  7. I have no problem reading book) with multiple third person POV. I actually prefer it when I get the insight of more than one or two characters. And if you’re handling POV correctly the reader will figure it out. Just add a scene break between sections so you’re not head hopping.
    Happy writing!

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  8. I usually write in multiple third-person pov and often with more than 2 pov characters. So I’m perfectly comfortable with your idea of 2 pov characters. And I wouldn’t have any problem at all if the first book is single pov and the second was two or three.

    I would write multiple pov throughout the book, versus just having a couple of chapters or scenes be different from the rest, but I don’t think this is a hard fast rule either. As Helen said, it would just need to be deftly done.

    And showing who’s the pov character isn’t too difficult. Just point to that person with his or her name in the first couple sentences or so. Hope that helps!

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  9. I almost always use multiple POVs when I write. Third person makes it easy—use the POV character’s name in the first sentence to establish who’s POV you’re in. I wouldn’t recommend “labeling” scenes with the POV character’s name unless your changes only occur at chapter level. Labeled scenes can feel awkward; labeled chapters are fine. One of my favorite books (Santorini Sunset by Claire Croxton) labeled the chapters, and it was done beautifully. (In the print book. It looks like you’d expect in the e-book.)

    As to changing book to book in the same series, most readers probably won’t notice. Not head hopping and introducing the POV character at the beginning of the scene is A LOT more important than changing the number of narrators from one book to the next.

    Best wishes, Jess!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A lot would depend on the goals the POV characters are trying to achieve in the story. If they are totally different, it might be good to give some sort of heads up that the POV might be changing, even if it’s briefly. If the goals are the same, then a possible coming together of the characters would be in order. That’s my two penneth.

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