Tips for Writing Multiple Perspectives

Happy Sunday, bloggers! Hope you”re all well.

Last week was a bad week for writing for me, as highlighted in last weeks blog post. This week hasn’t seen me hit a huge word count by any means, but it has been better and I’m hoping that this means next week will be better still.

I’ve been thinking a lot over this last week about multiple perspectives in novels and stories. I am writing from two perspectives, (well, kind of three…I’ll explain this another time!) and I’ve only ever written stories from one before. I’ve had to consider so much and have learnt a lot doing this so I’d like to share some quick tips for writing from multiple perspectives.

1. Each Character Needs Their Own Voice
Sounds obvious, and perhaps it is, but when you’re writing a novel it’s easy to fall into the voice of one particular character. It’s so important that each character narrates in their own way, that they can be easily distinguished by the reader simply by how they think, talk and behave. Some people find reading multiple perspective stories difficult, and the best way to avoid that is to make it easy to understand who is telling the story at what point.

2. Make Sure the Story Progresses
What I mean by this is when you switch perspective it shouldn’t just be the same scene told from a different point of view. The plot has to move forward, otherwise you’re essentially just taking twice as long to tell the story. Now, I’m sure there’s exceptions to this and, for example, finishing one character’s chapter at the same point as the next character’s starts is okay. If there’s a one or two sentence overlap then I think this can work. If it’s during a big reveal or a major plot point then having both characters reactions could be really important and really effective.

3. Make Sure you Know WHY You’re Doing It
Does your story NEED two or more perspectives? Or could it be told just as effectively by one character? You need to be sure you’re not complicating things for yourself or for the reader for no real reason. I didn’t intend, originally,  for my story to be told by two. However, I realised quite early on that I needed elements of my plot revealed to the reader that simply wouldn’t be noticed or discovered by my main girl. So, two perspectives became the only way forward.

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4. Do The Characters Meet?
I ask this because some stories with multiple perspectives are told with time differences. The characters never meet, yet their stories intertwine anyway. These are great! But if your characters are in the same timeline and DO meet it can be a really great way to tell your reader more about your characters. If you’re writing in first person you may never describe how that character looks to outsiders and you’ll certainly never put across what others may privately think about him/her. Having your POV characters meet and interact allows you to describe them in a different way.

Are you writing from multiple perspectives, or have you ever tried it before? How many characters are telling your story?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please pop a comment below!

Until next week,
Keep writing,

14 thoughts on “Tips for Writing Multiple Perspectives”

  1. My novel started off with a multiple 3rd person POV with each chapter from the POV of different characters who will eventually cross paths. I later abandoned this in favour of a limited 3rd person POV as it suited the story better. But I would still like to write something like that. Some book I’ve admired with shifting POVs: ‘Kafka on the Shore’ (Murakami), ‘The Heart Goes Last’ and ‘The Blind Assassin’ (Atwood), ‘Atonement’ (McEwan). You have some great ideas and valid points here. Thank you for sharing. And good luck with next week’s writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m toying with multiple POVs and have enough drafts of my manuscript to prove it! I’ve tried single POV and multiple POV in the same book. At the moment it has switched back to single POV, but that’s subject to change! I guess it’s useful as a writer starting out to experiment, and writing scenes in different POVs is one way of finding the true nature of a character, which will remain if the book is eventually told from a different POV.
    Thanks for this interesting post – it’s something I’m still coming to terms with!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Some great tips here (as usual). My books use multiple POV, but the majority of the story is told from the main characters view more often. The other POV’s are so the reader gets to know the other characters, too, and so the reader can learn things that the main character doesn’t know/isn’t ready to know yet. One thing I learned early on with writing multiple POV’s is how easy it is to accidentally head hop within the same scene.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I head hop too, especially when there’s scenes when I want both my POV characters inner reactions to be heard! I think when I get round to editing I’ll need to make some cuts and revisions!
      🙂 Thank you for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hmmm, I’m not sure if you mean two First Person POVs or Third Person Omniscient POV that allows for glimpses from multiple characters. I suspect you mean two First Person POVs, and I don’t believe I have ever done that. For more complex stories, I usually use Third Person Omniscient (so I can be everywhere, see everything and report whatever I choose to the reader), but occasionally a story has ‘wanted’ to be written First Person. It limits what can be said, but it does make it more personal.

    I think Third Person Omniscient can have elements of two First Person POVs, but you are right that you have to be very careful so as not to confuse the reader with who is speaking. And too abrupt a change from one to the other generally leaves the reader having to reread several times to figure out what is happening and who is speaking. I would think two First Person POVs would work better when the two characters are separated, but it would be challenging to write their meeting without muddying the story.

    Something to think about, though. I had never really considered including two POVs.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Interesting. I don’t think I’ve seen 1st person and 3rd person POV in the same story. I would have to see it to tell how well it worked. I wouldn’t think it would work in general, but it is possible a writer could do a good and effective job so that a few instances did work well. There are times when 3rd Person borders on 1st Person – most of the Harry Potter stories are essentially 1st Person Harry POV, since most of the story is told through his eyes, but it is told in Third Person form.

        But that’s the beauty of writing – it is a creative art. If you can do something unusual, and make it work, then it doesn’t really matter if it doesn’t follow the traditional rules.

        Liked by 1 person

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