Blog Hop: Many-Headed Stories

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: How do you feel about books with multiple narrators?

Ah, now this feels like the kind of question that might come up at my writing group!  I frequently enjoy (and often write) at least two point of view characters (or narrators).  It’s a common practice to write a novel from the alternating points of view of the two romantic leads (I knew immediately how a triangle would turn out in a romance once, just because of this).  Sometimes that’s been the case in my own books, though not always.  I guess it always has been the case that my two point of view characters are the pair that forms the most significant relationship in the book, romantic or otherwise.

Huh, I actually never thought about that before…

Three narrators is perfectly reasonable too, and maybe four…though the more you add, the more complex it becomes and the harder it gets for the reader to keep track.  That can go badly sometimes in ensemble cast novels, with six, eight, ten narrators.

That higher complexity is definitely something we’d warn about in my writing group, if someone was thinking about how many POV characters to write (the question has come up often).  Two other things: it’s crucial to make it very clear to the reader when a POV is switching.  I generally do chapter breaks, sometimes just a scene break (but a clear one).  It’s equally crucial that different POV characters have different voices.  If they all sound the same, the reader will have a much harder time keeping track (and possibly grow bored besides).

But if those pitfalls are avoided, and if all is written well, then I like multiple POVs just fine.  But I like most storytelling choices, if they’re done well!


4 thoughts on “Blog Hop: Many-Headed Stories

  1. Sigh, as people say, having more than two character povs gets complicated. That’s why I’m struggling with my rewrite. I think I need 5. But when they are together I should work out who is the main one and stick to it, I think.
    Thanks for helping me sort that out!!

  2. I tend to read books with one or two narrators – the only exception being the epic Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin, which has tones of narrators, but they are clearly separated by solo chapters.

  3. This question makes me think of my favorite series as a kid, Animorphs. It was centered on six kids: five humans and an alien. Each book had one of these kids as a narrator, but it was a different one each time and it went in order. (I still remember the order….) There were something like 60 books, so you really got to know each character from their own eyes.

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