4 Tips for Writing in Multiple Points of View

Are you telling a story from the point of view of more than one character? It isn’t always easy, I know. Sometimes it can be hard to get that message across or know who to focus on. So, here are four tips that will make it easier for you to write from multiple points of view in your novel.

1) Assign scenes to a specific character. 

Avoid head-hopping at all costs. Your reader needs to understand that they are reading from a specific character’s point of view. Head-hopping happens when you move from one character’s POV to another within one scene, meaning that the reader is left wondering who they are focusing on and through whose eyes they are seeing the story. Therefore, assign scenes to a specific person, and if you want to move to a new character, use a narrative break or new chapter so that the reader understands what you are doing.

2) Use unique dialogue.

Make sure your reader knows who is speaking through unique dialogue and action tags. This is important for any novel, but especially for writing multiple points of view. It means that your reader will immediately understand whose scene they are in and the character they are focusing on. Even if your characters are from the same place, they should still speak slightly differently. No one speaks the same as somebody else, and if they do, they might use different slang words or have physical movements that differentiate them.

3) Consider a primary point of view. 

Do you have a main character or someone more important to the story than anyone else? A primary point of view makes writing a multiple character story much easier, so it’s worth thinking about if you haven’t yet considered this. It’s not something you have to do – just a recommendation.

4) Consider why you are using multiple points of view. 

Why are you using multiple POVs in your novel? What is the drive, and what is the story getting out of it? What are your characters giving to the tale? These questions are worth working through because if you have a character that adds nothing to your story, you should ask yourself why they are there. The varying points of view that your characters are offering should drive and move the story forward. For example, let’s take a book I recently read – The Mitford Trial by Jessica Fellowes. The story is told from the point of view of two characters, and the reason for this is that, in this classic whodunit, these two have differing opinions, see different things, and therefore provide different clues. So, it wouldn’t work so well as a single narrative point of view.

If you are writing a story with multiple points of view, and have any questions, get in touch to ask! 

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How to Create a Realistic Character

A realistic character can make all the difference to a reader. It can keep them engaged, draw them into a story, and even make them fall in love. Think of it, even when Mr Darcy (Pride & Prejudice) was being just plain rude, we all cared what would happen next. That’s because he was realistic, as was Lizzy, and we wanted them to have a satisfactory outcome despite the fact that they didn’t exist.

Realistic characters are the bread and butter of your novel. So how do you make them realistic enough to step off the page? Let’s take a look.

Hotseat Them

Ah, one of my all-time favourite things to do with a character. Hot seating a character means asking them a series of questions that reveal them as a person. Sometimes it can create an entirely new and surprising direction that you hadn’t even thought of! For questions to ask your character, take a look at the two free books you get when you subscribe to my newsletter. You can also look up Proust’s questionnaire, which is full of fabulous and profound questions.

Pull from real life 

While it’s not recommended to write about your ex precisely as they are, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t pull from real life and real people you have known, in your creative work. Using characters from our own world can add a natural flair to a novel, and no one needs to know where you came up with the idea…

Give them flaws, quirks, and strengths 

People are complicated, and no one is wholly good. Your characters should have strengths, yes, but they should also be flawed, with individual quirks. Think about Batman for a moment – why is that character so interesting? It’s because of his flaws. He wasn’t born with the strength of a superhero; he created that reality for himself. He is also selfish, complicated and challenging to know. This kind of character pulls your reader in – they want to read more because they are intrigued by the person.

Create their motivation

What motivates your character? Everyone is motivated by something, and that motivation should be legitimate. Even a baddy should be a baddy for a reason. Take Scrooge (A Christmas Carol), for example, and his story. We know that he behaves the way he does because of his childhood. The things that happened in his life when he was young taught him to put too high a value on money, and because of that, he loses what is really important in his adult life.

Give them their own dialogue and mannerisms 

Even two people from the same place and era speak differently, and even identical twins have individual mannerisms. Show the reader how your character is different through action tags, dialogue, and movement.

Develop them as the novel continues 

No one remains the same throughout a time period, and even those determined to may become more entrenched in their points of view. Develop your character throughout the plot, and show that the actions around them impact who they are as a person. You can learn more about this in my novel writing masterclass, where I teach plotting, character arcs, and characterisation.

What else do you think a realistic character includes? Let me know! 

Looking for more information on the craft of writing? Check out this page here!