Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thursday Q&A

Staying with the POV subject of late, today’s question comes from Jackie L.:

Do you think it's best to limit most stories to two POV characters?

Yes, MOST times it is best to keep stories to two POVs.  This makes for an easier read and allows the reader time to become invested in the two main characters and their journey--for instance, in a romance, staying to two POVs keeps the reader emotionally invested in the HEA for these two characters.

Each time a POV is changed to a new character, the reader has to adapt to the new rhythm, and if done too much, this can pull the reader out of the story, or worse, keep them on the top surface making it easy for them to lay the book down to go do something else if needed.  By keeping to two strong, deeper POVs, the reader has a better opportunity to be pulled into the story where they don't want to put the book down.

Now, having said all that, I also believe that there are times when a third POV can be introduced aptly--such as a villain in an intrigue story, or a ghost that is leading the main characters towards the solving of a mystery.  But if POV is changed occasionally simply to find out what the brother, annoying neighbour or best friend are thinking or doing, then my first suggestion is always to see if you can relay that information to the main character through dialogue or another event so as to keep to two POVs and the reader in the moment.



Thank you again to Jackie L. for her question today.  She will receive a thank you envelope with a pen, bookmark and other fun stuff from myself and authors I have worked with. 

For a chance to receive a fun stuffed envelope, simply send me a question about writing, editing or the publishing process.  No question is too little, too silly or should be too embarrassing to ask--knowledge is the key that opens many doors. So, go ahead and ask me:

And if I use your question on my blog, I will send you a small thank you envelope, too.




  1. This was a really good question and I appreciate you answering it here so we may all know the proper way to write.

    I agree, I hate being pulled out of a story and I am the type of person that if it happens more than once, I won't finish the book.

    1. Thanks, Sarah.

      I do want to note that I don't want it to be taken as "the proper way to write" LOL only because everyone has a different voice and different process.

      Simply that controlling POV is important however you write.

  2. Good post. And glad you added the last paragraph about a villain getting a POV chance. I'm trying this for the first time and loving it. But more than three and it's easy to get lost.

    1. Yes, and that is a good point about getting the POVs lost.

  3. Hangs head in shame - don't want to even count the number of POV I have - although it's more a mystery - I'll stop trying to justify myself and re-examine.

    Meanwhile, do you have an opinion you'd like to share about tags:-

    - he said v. said he?

    - whether it's okay to drop one person's tag in a stretch of dialogue?

    1. Never hang your head Maddy! LOL Writing is a learning curve, and as I noted earlier, everyone's process is different. If this blog post made you think and helped you to re-examine your manuscript in order to make it stronger then that's the best I can hope for, and I'm proud that you take your writing seriously and are willing to learn.

      As for tags, the occasional he said/she said is fine, but if you try to change a few up with an action instead, it makes the writing more engaging for the reader.

      For example (and please remember this is off the top of my head right now LOL):

      "I don't know what to do about you," she said. "Why are you always so bullheaded?"

      Changing the tag to an action would simply give the dialogue that much more of an oomph factor.

      "I don't know what to do about you." Carly blew out a frustrated breath and shoved against his solid chest. "Why are you always so bullheaded?"

  4. I agree about limiting your story to two POVS, but I love Carol Higgins Clark and Mary Higgins Clark mysteries and they have tons of POVs. I usually have two POVs in my romances but I do have an exception with my Amish romance, A JOYFUL BREAK. Several Amish authors (not all, of course) use more than two POVs. While writing it I asked an author to read some of the manuscript and she told me I should consider just writing it in two. But she did mention it didn't bother her that I had four. It has received good reviews so I'm glad I followed my gut. After it was published and this author of over 90 books read it. She said that it was perfect and couldn't imagine it being written any differently.

    Great post, Stacy!

    1. That's great! Yes, there are always those that use more and some have the control to make it work. As with everything, it is a balance and a learning curve. Congratulations on the success of your story!