Writing Multiple POVs

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How rude of me to use an acronym in the title! For those who do not know, POV is just the short way of saying Pneumatic Operated Valve. It's an engineering device.

So, these things control compressed air and--

Just kidding! POV actually stands for point of view!

More often than not, stories are written in a single point of view. We follow a protagonist through their adventure, and we stick with them the whole way through. However, some stories have multiple protagonists, and we end up reading the story from multiple different perspectives.

However, when it isn't done well... it can be... Well.


I have seen stories where all five protagonists seem to have the exact same reactions to events [gasping aggressively], and all have the exact same goals [winning the love interest over] and flaws [having a past that has raised their guard around others, making them seem like a cold-hearted brooding bad boy when, deep inside, they are earnest and sweet and packed with six-packs].

So, after my exhausted adventures of reading, here are some tips for those who are looking at writing multiple propagation of variances.

1. First of all, work out the mechanics.

You need to decide whether you will use multiple perspectives, and if so, why. Having multiple perspectives can be a super powerful tool, so by all means, absolutely go for it! However, you should have purpose to it.

Multiple perspectives can be helpful for fleshing out the world and characters. For example, if my story is about a tomato deciding whether it is a fruit or a vegetable, it could be really cool to flesh out my world by introducing three perspectives—the tomato, a carrot, and an apple. That way, we can see all three different factions, how each little faction works, and their different values/goals. However, on the other hand, maybe I don't need the three different perspectives--maybe Tomato explores the world on his own, anyways, and we will get to see all that information regardless from his perspective!

Another reason people can employ multiple perspectives is to introduce deeper subplots and counter-perspectives. For example, I'm sure we've all read stories where we love the side character more than the protagonist. Suddenly, the side character rocks up with a love interest, and we all cry because we wanted to be that love interest. Having another perspective in the story, from that side character, that makes us fall in love with their love story could be beneficial. However, maybe we don't need it, because the protagonist is there for the whole journey, or it's not even necessary for the momentum of the plot!

And, of course, suspense. Unreliable narrators.

I love, love, love stories where one perspective knows something that the other perspective does not know. It makes us, the reader, know more, and itch with tension of what is going to happen. Like this:

Tomato's chapter is about how he can't wait to go meet the fruits.

Carrot's chapter is about how the fruits are actually carnivorous and plan on eating Tomato. Carrot is rushing to go save the day. But then, they get delayed in traffic.

So now, the next chapter is about Tomato walking in to meet the fruits... and we, as the reader, are freaking out, because an apple a day apparently does not keep carnivores away!

So, think very carefully. Extremely carefully. Does your story need multiple perspectives? Or would it be more effective from just the singular perspective?

You then also have to decide whether you are writing one single plot/event from different perspectives, or if you are writing multiple different plots that eventually intertwine—but there is not a lot of overlap to begin with.

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