This week’s video discusses the dangers of creating unequal POVs and how to select only the most interesting and important narrators.
Multiple POVs are tricky. Not only do we have to create unique voices and arcs for every character to whom we give a point of view, we also have to deal with the sheer logistical problem of juggling all these people. And then there’s the rather scary possibility that readers may not like all of the POVs equally. Let’s say you split your book between two POVs. Well, if readers like one those POVs better than the other, they’re always going to be impatient to get back to the popular character—and that means they’re going to be less than crazy about fully half of your story.
On the surface, this seems like a totally subjective problem. How the heck are we supposed to be able to control our readers’ level of affection for certain characters? Ultimately, the answer to this is that it’s our job to control, or at least guide, reader affection. If we’re unable to make them like our characters, they’re gone. The good news is that if you can do it for one character, you can do it for as many POVs as you need to.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
1. Do not give a POV to any character who isn’t either lovable or fascinating. Do not kid yourself about this. Take a good hard look at every character before gifting him with a POV.
2. Equalize the interest and intensity level between POVs. If you make readers leave a shootout for a tea party, of course, they’re going to be impatient.
3. Make good use of chapter cliffhangers. And by this I mean, always pay off the cliffhanger. You can’t hook readers with a cliffhanger for one POV, only to dump them into a different POV without this second POV gripping them with the payoff from its own cliffhanger earlier in the book.
In short, write every POV character as if he’s the protagonist. Love him to pieces and lavish him with awesome plot advancements. If you can’t do that, he doesn’t deserve a POV.