3 Ways to Make Your POVs Equally Interesting

3 Ways to Make Your POVs Equally Interesting

This week’s video discusses the dangers of creating unequal POVs and how to select only the most interesting and important narrators.

Video Transcript:

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.

Tell me your opinion: How many POVs does your current story feature?

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel. She writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in western Nebraska and mentors authors on her award-winning website.

Comments

  1. “Love” is probably too strong a word when it comes right down to it. It’s more that authors have to have compassion for their characters. We have to understand where they’re coming from and present their POVs in a non-judgmental way.

  2. I completely agree, if you can´t understand you villain, how will your reader do so? It will just look like a void cliché

  3. I realize I must choose the POV that suits my protagonist, but I must ask, is first-person the popular view for mystery, or limited third-person?

    I.e. which do you prefer as a reader when it comes to a gripping mystery?

    Thanks,

    Matt

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      I’m not much of a mystery reader, so someone else might be better qualified to answer this. But, in general, I don’t have a great preference, provided both are well done. Either option offers strengths and weaknesses.

  4. Thanks K.

    Surprisingly, I’m not much of a mystery reader either, or writer of mystery for that matter. My wife and I recently moved to a small town in WV, where there are lots of trains and barges along the Ohio river. The thought of a rugged small town Appalachia sheriff popped into my brain and wouldn’t get out. So I tossed him a murder, gave him a flaw, a background, and a few other elements.

    Now, if only I knew how to write a mystery. Usually I dabble in fantasy and Christian fiction. I must say, trying something new has reinvigorated my flow. So far it’s working out well. Time will tell.

    Again, you are so kind and helpful. It amazes me how you juggle so much! You truly inspire me.

    God bless,

    Matt

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