Monday, February 28, 2011

You Tell Me...About POVs

How do you feel about changes in POV during a book? For instance, in a wonderful book I just finished, the majority of the book was in the MC's POV, with a few scenes in the villain's POV. Then toward the end of the book, we got one scene in the love interest's POV and at the end of that scene, there was a paragraph or two in another character's POV.

Now it was done very well and clearly and didn't bother me at all. Yet, I know switching like that does bother some people.

So I'm curious how you all feel about it. Because my current WIP sort of follows a similar pattern to the book I mentioned above. The book switches back and forth between my MC and her love interest until close to the end. Then there are two or three chapters that are in two other characters' POVs. But in these scenes, my MC and her love interest are out of commission. But stuff needs to happen, so....another character or two take the wheel for a second.

I've been debating somehow changing these scenes so they can stay in my MC's and her love interest's POVs - but really, those scenes just work better with the other characters.


So tell me....how do you feel about switching POVs?

13 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

If it's done well, I'll for any pov. The only thing that turns me off sometimes is if I'm not given time to get to know a pov and the switch happens too often. I usually end up putting those books down.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I don't mind switches here and there. Sometimes it's needed.

But like, Laura, I get a little annoyed when it's done all through a book. (unless Nora Roberts does it. then I don't mind at all.) LOL

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I have no problem with it. I just read Desires of the Dead (sequel to The Body Finder). Kim does the same thing. Both books are mostly in the mc's and antagonist's povs, but near the end, for one scene, you're in the boyfriend's pov. It works and I'm not jarred out of the story.

B.E. Sanderson said...

As long as the transition is smooth, I'm okay with POV shifts. I just hate when I'm reading along and BAM, I'm in someone else's head without expecting it. It's even worse when I don't catch the shift for several paragraphs and I have to go back to figure out who's head I'm in.

Christine Fonseca said...

As long as it is done well...no big. I even like the books that switch from 1st to 3rd as with some books I have read recently - beautifully done

E. Arroyo said...

I'm okay with it so long as it's relevant and clear.

Matthew Rush said...

I prefer it. I would rather have a little change of pace and opinion than stick with one narrator throughout. As long as it's made clear, and done well, I don't mind in the least.

Em-Musing said...

Guess I've been lucky and can't remember a book that changed P.O.V. in the middle of things. Either that, or I'm clueless?

John Sankovich said...

I really enjoy the change in POV. I have done it, and usually to keep it easy for the reader to follow, I do it only at chapter changes. I have seen it work wonderfully in books this way, however, sometimes when they do it in the middle of the chapter it gets confusing. So if it's done well it allows an great insight to the book, if not, well then...

Jen Chandler said...

I like it as long as it's seamless. I like getting into the heads of more than one character. You usually end up with a more well-rounded view of what's going on in the story.

spinney said...

There's a tipping point with POV changes-- if they're really infrequent, they're really noticeable. Geraldine Brooks' MARCH turns half way through the book from one character to another, and it's (intentionally) shocking.
But other books switch so often that the rhythm becomes ingrained. Mark Haddon's A SPOT OF BOTHER does it beautifully.
The trouble seems to come when you've lulled the reader into expecting the same voice to continue for the whole book, and then you switch. I'll bet if the love interest POV comes for the first time fairly near the beginning, it will work out fine!

One Woman's Thoughts said...

I come to enjoy the unexpected, it makes me think and comes as a surprise . . . that is usually pretty good writing.

Jack LaBloom said...

Have you read any of the late Stieg Larrson's books? Not only does he have multiple POV characters, he head hopped in several places in all three of his novels, which are still on the best-sellers lists.

Another best-selling author, Steve Martini head hopped in THE LIST.

As I recall, even John Grisham head hopped in THE CONFESSION.

Head hopping and multiple POV characters are different. Head hopping can be confusing if not done well. Stieg Larrson did it beautifully. So did Steve Martini and John Grisham. I never missed a beat reading their stories.

I've heard a lot of people say when you become a best-selling author you can then write anyway you want. I say write anyway you want, if you want to become a best-selling author. Let the public decide what is considered a great story.

If the story can best be told from multiple POV characters, write it that way. It may be best to make POV shifts with a new chapter or at least a scene change indicated by an extra line space, but the three authors above did not always do that.

Dull is every writer always following the same rules for writing prose. Write the story you want to write, the way you want to write it and hope the readers like it.

I predict we are going to see many more novels with multiple POV characters hitting the best-seller lists, and probably more head hopping as well.

Best of luck.