Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Another Point of View Anyone?

Let's talk points of view. 

I was reading a book recently, and about halfway through the story I realized something. There were just too  many points of view in the book. Why, do I say this? Because the book I was reading is classified as a romance. It's part of a series, and each book in the series is supposed to be dedicated to an individual couple..only it wasn't. By the time we caught up with all the other characters from past books and introduced new ones who's romances will be upcoming, the emotional connection that I was supposed to feel to the books hero and heroine was lost.

How many points of view in a book is too much? That, is the million dollar question.

If you ask ten different people, you will probably get ten different answers. Ultimately, however, it comes down to the author and what they feel is needed in order to best tell the story.

Over the last few months I've been going back through my first novel. It had been more than three years since I'd read through the story, and I've grown considerably as an author since then. In that book I had six different points of view. Looking at it now, I can say with confidence that it was too many. Would that have meant cutting out certain aspects of the book? Yes, it would. But in the end telling every little detail isn't what's important. It's the story a whole.

Genre is also important as well. I write romance which means the story typically revolves around the main characters. Fantasy, for instance, might require many more points of view in order to build the world and the story.

I posed the question about how many points of view is too much to one of my Facebook groups. Their answers varied greatly. I got everything from anything more than 2 or 3 is too much, to 'it all depends on the book'.

What do you think? How many points of view do you like to read in a book? Does genre matter? And when does it become too much?


  1. Different points of view add to the depth and understanding of a story--to a point, after which more points of view detract from the intimacy because you lose focus on the key players. No romance was every spoiled by limiting POV to the H/h, but veering off to different character has ruined a romance. Who are the key players? Focus on them.

    1. A very good point, Cara. It really is a matter of finding the right balance.

  2. Too many POVs will dilute a story too much. Readers inherently want to connect to a character or two. Less experienced writers seem to try multiple POVS quite often, but not many experienced writers can pull it off. In a way, the tendency is also on offshoot of what we see on television. A camera shot can switch form character to character relatively smoothly, but it doesn't work nearly as well on the page.