Does Your Story Really Need That Extra POV Character?


[I’m taking a quick break this week to deal with some personal stuff (no worries—everything’s good!), so decided to share a short post some of you may remember from the e-letter years ago.]

Sooner or later, most authors find the constraints of POV frustrating. It can be difficult to observe the strictures of a tight POV while still showing readers all of a scene’s necessary information. Seemingly, one of the easiest ways around this problem is to simply add a new POV from a character who is able to share the information you want to convey.

However, it’s always wise to think twice before adding another POV character.

Let me share an example.

A fantasy I recently read featured two 3rd-person POVs from its two major characters. But as the story neared the Climax, the author inserted several POVs from minor characters who never again appeared on stage once their brief moments in the POV limelight were complete. By adding these viewpoints, the author was able to give readers some inside information that his main characters couldn’t have shared. But he also lost the sense of cohesion that had carried his story so well up to this point.

Inserting one-time-wonder POVs, especially late in a story, and especially those that highlight a character readers are meeting for the first—and perhaps only—time isn’t a sin most readers will want to shoot you for. But writers need to be aware that POV is the glue that holds their stories together. If you dilute it, even to impart what may seem like vital information, you’re going to be distancing readers from your characters. You’re may also confuse readers, while loosening the tight weave of your narrative.

When you find yourself late in your story and tempted to add a heretofore unnecessary POV, ask yourself if the information this POV imparts is really as vital as you think. In many cases, you may discover the information might be more powerful and memorable if the readers learn the information at the same time as the main characters.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinions! How do you decide when to add a new POV character to your story? Tell me in the comments!





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