Avoid these mistakes when writing multiple POV

Are you writing your book with multiple POV?  I recently picked up a paranormal romance by a very popular author with an even bigger fan club. I won’t name them. However, after reading the first pages of this book published by a big 5 publisher I had to stop. After three chapters and four points of view, I had no clue there were 4 separate characters and I didn’t know the names of the narrators. I had to put it down. I usually don’t write negative reviews, so I couldn’t name this on my Goodreads list. As a reader I’m appealing to writers to avoid the following mistakes if you’re writing multiple POV.

Multiple POV

Multiple POV

Question the necessity

Authors have gotten caught up with all the hype of Game of Thrones, but does your book really need multiple POV’s?  Is there something special or a unique perspective that an omniscient narrator or your main protagonist can’t deliver through a single POV? If yes, then please go ahead and write it. Weigh the reasons why you absolutely need so many voices.

Name the narrator

It’s really distressing when the author expects the reader to assume through the voice on the page who the character is. Worse if the voice is not done well and the reader is left guessing whose talking. So do something through dialogue to indicate who’s talking. We’re reading for pleasure, not to play ‘guess the character games.’ If I wanted to play games, I’d try online dating.

Special Characteristics

Each POV needs to have special characteristics. You cannot have all of them good-looking, saving the world, kind and honest. When I say characteristics, make sure it’s not just surface level differences like rich or poor, bad or good. Draw up very special characterizations of each individual. Details about their personal lives that only they would know as a narrator, things like secret fantasies of killing the neighbors dog, or tipping a busker on the subway, things no one would know.  That POV has to be unique, that’s why they’re in the book, right?

Voice

Uggh! You have to have a special voice for each person. When everyone sounds the same, the reader has no clue who is talking. My pet peeve is having to turn pages and go back to re-read something. If that’s something that happens every time the POV changes, then your set-up is not working.  So nail the voice, by diversifying the vocabulary, the style and other aspects of the voice. When you re-read your drafts, make sure the POV is different for every character.

Transitions

I find transitions hard to do in my own writing. So it’s difficult, I know that. For that reason I usually do only two POV’s. You need to make sure you don’t lost the reader while you transition from one person to another. Don’t make them abrupt or do it in the middle of scenes. An example of it done well was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

What advice do you have for authors who write POV?

 

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