This week’s video cautions against the potential pitfall of having readers grow frustrated with multiple POVs as the result of liking one POV better than the other.
An author’s choice about which and how many characters to feature as point-of-view narrators is crucial to the story. The narrating characters will control the tone and flow of the story, and, in large part, decide whether or not the book works. There’s a lot to be said for multiple-narrator books. Not only do they allow us to delve into the heads and personalities of multiple people, they can also present a more rounded view of the story and give readers a look at scenes that would otherwise be off-limits.
However, for every benefit, we also have to avoid a potential pitfall. The pitfall I want to talk about today is the simple possibility of ending up with readers liking one POV dramatically more than they like the other. It’s understandable that readers aren’t likely to fall equally in love with all of our characters. Even as authors, we always have some characters we like better than others. This isn’t necessarily a problem except when this imbalance occurs between POV characters who are given equal amounts of time on the page.
As readers, we can probably all attest that what happens in this situation is that, as soon as we have to leave the POV of the character we like, in order to enter the POV of the character we don’t like so much, we grow restless and frustrated and maybe we even start skipping pages to get back to our favored POV. So as you’re selecting POVs for your story, consider how
they’re going to affect readers. You will never be able to perfectly foretell reader reactions. But keep in mind that readers are going to favor your main character. After that, they’re going to favor amusing or interesting minor characters. Bad guys usually come last. With that in mind, weigh the costs before implementing a POV that will force readers to spend long chunks of time away from their favorite characters.