The Problem with Multiple Viewpoints

Let’s face it, lots of great novels and series have multiple viewpoints. Even J. K. Rowling didn’t tell Harry Potter strictly from Harry’s point of view, but had a chapter or two at the beginning of almost every book from a different viewpoint to fill in the information gaps from a boy who spends his summers shut off from the wizarding world, sort of like the opening scenes in most crimes shows when they show you the murder or the discovery of the body or something to give you more context than the detectives.

The only great work of our time that I can think of that is strictly told in a single point of view is The Hunger Games, and truly it’s the only series or book that was truly wonderful that does that.

So it’s really little surprise that many authors give in to that admittedly powerful temptation to tell the story from multiple viewpoints. You don’t want to just say how Character X feels, you want to give how Character Y feels about it, and how Character Z reacts to the feelings of X and Y. And since all the greats are doing it, why not?

The fact is that just like everything else in the writing world, there can be complications with multiple viewpoints.

Some of the problems I’ve had in the past as a writer are remembering who I’m writing as, making sure my readers remember who I’m writing as, and deciding which viewpoint to write from!

The recent problem I’ve been having is with the outline of The Pen is Mightier. I’ve got several viewpoints in my list of viewpoints (which are all necessary for at least a small portion of my book), which can really only be used once or twice convincingly, as they’re not involved in the main part of the plot.

I’ve come to the decision that the story could not be done properly without these viewpoints, but it’s requiring me to carefully consider and second-guess every point-of-view decision I make for The Pen is Mightier. And for those of you who know me (cough, Natalie, cough), you know that I hate having to second-guess myself, which is what makes the editing process so painful. Still, as I’ve learned with my schoolwork as well, slowing things down, considering everything you do, can be more helpful in the long run than going off instinct and having to change everything later.

Cheers,

C

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About Charlotte Blackwood

Charlotte Blackwood is a self-employed aspiring author working on perfecting her first novella/ first novel. She is a current student at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, CA. If you're looking for a reading list (someday she'll add her own works to the list), she's currently supporting Anna Karenina, anything by Dickens, anything by Tolkien, anything by JK Rowling, A Song of Ice and Fire, and The Hunger Games.

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