Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Question For The Writers

What do y'all think of multiple points of view. Not reading it, but writing it? Pain in the ass? Too hard to keep everything straight? Easier because you can get more on the page?

Never done it before and I'm playing around with the idea. So far I'm, 60/40 against. I have a hard enough time pulling off a single POV.

Thoughts? Anyone? Bueller?


Chris said...

Truth be told, I have a hell of a time with multiple POVs. I've written a couple of shorts with multiple POVs (though never more than three), and they've come off okay, but the only two novels I've started but did not finish were multiple POV. I think my problem is the waffling that comes with infinite possibilities. As a reader, I find I have no preference (well, maybe a weak preference for a single POV, but that's usually attributable to my preference for a strong voice, which is not exclusive to single POV), but as a writer, single POV is my go-to.

Dianne Emley said...

I've always used multiple POVs, usually three or four. Did it from my first book without consciously thinking it through. The challenge is to make the other lead characters as compelling as your hero. I like the freedom of following other characters and how it can broaden the possibilities of the plot.

Kieran Shea said...

It has to be done well. For my pesos the only guys who've done it right consistently are Latin American writers. Guys like Borges, Julio Cortázar. All that magical realism stuff.

Rodger Jacobs said...

L.A. novelist Bruce Wagner's novels demonstrate skillful use of multiple character POV, often switching narrative voice every few pages. Fitzgerald tried the technique twice -- in "Tender is the Night" and the unfinished "The Last Tycoon" -- and failed miserably.

My advice, frankly, is that it's a technique best left to AP writers; you need to have the narrative beats of your story fully mapped and then determine which plot points you want to disperse over which points of view and why. I've seen many scribes write themselves into a corner trying multiple POV. But if you're really serious about exploring the technique, read some Wagner, he's an unparalelled L.A. satirist.

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

I used multiple (close third-person) points-of-view for my novel. They allowed me to get deeper into the character. It was tough but it worked well.

I think so, anyway.

I could be wrong.

Word verification: "beduclog." Sounds like Newspeak.

Mike MacLean said...

As a reader, I like it. As a writer, I find it challenging. I think it utterly depends on the story you’re trying to tell. Once I tried it and found myself digging one character’s voice more than the others.

Elmore Leonard jumps seamlessly from one POV to another, (I recall him jumping into the POV of maid for like a page and a half in one book; she was never heard from again. But he’s been doing this stuff for how long?

William Gibson does pretty good POV jumping too.

Victoria said...

I LOVE writing in multiple POVs. I cant fight my love for Rashomon, I suppose.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

Thanks everyone. This has been very helpful.

It's not the multiple POVs that worry me, it's my ability to pull them off well.

I'll be experimenting, definitely. Thanks again.