This week’s video explains why introducing POV characters early in the book is important to your reader’s happiness.
Video Transcription: By the time readers have read through the first couple chapters in your book, they’ve made an emotional and intellectual investment in your main characters. If they’ve read this far and plan to continue reading, they’ve obviously found the characters introduced in these chapters to be worth their time and attention. So imagine their annoyance when, deep into the book, the author suddenly plunges them into a strange character’s point of view. This is what happened in a fantasy I read recently, and it very nearly made me give up on the book. I had followed the author’s main characters through several hundred pages of adventures, only to be ripped away from them and plunged into a lengthy subplot that featured an entirely new cast of characters. In essence, the author was forcing his readers to begin a whole new story in the middle of his book.
Introducing a new POV late in the book occasionally works for short scenes, if the point is to offer an outside perspective of the protagonist. But when the characters the reader has grown to love are suddenly nowhere in sight, the author risks serious backlash. Readers may skip ahead to regain contact with familiar characters—or they may give up reading altogether in their frustration. The first few chapters are the place to introduce important POV characters. Coherent framing and foreshadowing demand the author use these chapters to guide readers’ loyalty and help them understand which characters rank high in the story’s hierarchy.
If you’re feeling tempted to add an entirely new POV character late in the book, pause to ask yourself a couple questions. Is this new POV absolutely necessary? Could you introduce this character’s POV earlier in the book? Could you work this scene into a previously introduced character’s POV? Consider carefully so you don’t run the risk of annoying your readers.
Tell me your opinion: Have you ever been tempted to add a brand new POV late in the book?
Related Posts: How Many POVs Are Too Many?
Bring Your Characters' POV Voices to Life
Strengthen Your Story With Proper Framing
Story by K.M. Weiland