Point of View And Characters

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

When reading, I easily lose track of characters as they are introduced in a story. Give them rare and exotic names, and I’m lost. I admit I may not be the brightest kid on the block, but I can’t be the only one with this problem. So, to you average-IQ readers out there, how many characters can you manage? And generally, how much do you think it depends on genre, plot, and audience?

Multiple POVs depend mainly on preference, I think. When a story switches POV or hops from character to characters (changing setting as well), I get frustrated. Yes, the storyline becomes more intricate, but I’m always upset about having to leave the scene (often a cliffhanger) and visiting a different character. The cycle goes on. It’s supposed to keep me reading, I suppose; but is it worth the annoyance?

How do you all feel about multiple POV?



14 responses »

  1. I think multiple POVs is great, if it’s handled well. You definitely can go overboard, though. George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire would be an example of overboard, I think. Especially when you read a really great chapter about a super interesting character, and then you don’t hear from them for another 300 pages because the author feels obligated to tell you what’s happening with literally every other character even if it’s boring lol.

    Like I said, I’ve seen to done well, but it is possible to go overboard.

      • I always talk about movies when I answer these, because more people will know what I’m talking about. Quentin Tarantino films handle it really well. I’m trying it for the first time and stick with each character for 3 or 4 chapters. I also head the change with the character name.

  2. I love multiple POV in the right context. I become quite fascinated by getting into more than one person’s head and find sometimes I relate better to one character than to the true “protagonist” so it’s nice to not feel overwhelmed by only one perspective. But that’s my view. And I agree, it’s hard sometimes to keep the number of characters under control, otherwise you risk losing readers.

    • Absolutely. It’s interesting to see the story through another character’s eyes and understand what they are thinking when the other characters in the story cannot. But yes, too much is too much sometimes. Thank you for the comment, Emily!

  3. I love using multiple POVs when it serves a purpose. My first novel relies on shifting mindspaces, because there’s tons of nuance in each person’s thought process that restricting it to implication and inference through one character would have utterly crippled the story.

  4. I always switch POVs. But usually only between my two leads. My WIP has several important characters, but I only switch between my main female character and my main male character. The story wouldn’t be what it is if I didn’t. I think it just depends on the story.
    I read a book a while back that switched POVs every chapter between two characters. The girl was written in first person and the guy was written in third. I thought that was actually really cool. 🙂

    • I might have read that book too. I thought that kind of POV switch is… interesting. I wasn’t sure what to think of it.
      Otherwise I like when stories switch between male and female leads. But like you said, it very often simply depends on the story.

      • It was called The Priests Graveyard by Ted Dekker. And the sequel The Sanctuary. I wasn’t sure if I likes it at first but it grew on me 🙂
        Definitely. 🙂

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