Multiple Points Of View in Novel

Monday, May 01, 2006


Although every "how to write your first novel" website lists "stick to a single point of view" as one of the ten commandments for new writers, I just seem to be incapable of following that directive. While the bulk of my story will be told in 1st person (from the killer's perspective), I keep reverting to 3rd person when writing about other characters. I don't jump back and forth within a paragraph, or even within a chapter; but individual chapters do have differing points of view.

I realize that this is getting away from general topics that would be useful to a wide audience, and becoming a very specific question that really only pertains to my book, but....
Any chance that there is a website or other source for information, guidelines (warnings?) about writing from multiple view points? I realize that this lack of consistency could prove confusing to the reader, but I'm interested in learning about other potential problems that may result from switching Point Of View. Any suggestions for where to look?




If handled correctly nobody will be confused by multiple Points Of View. And if anyone tells you not to do it, poke them in the eye with a sharp stick and do it anyway.

The beauty of words is you can pull off almost anything; you can break rules and mess with convention. You just have to be able to write well enough.


Multiple points of view are common with many published writers. Typically, they are written as everything in third person. I caution against mixing first person and third person. I always caution against first person in any case. In this instance if you do everything third person, including the killer's perspective, it will work better.

I did a work with two points of view alternating from chapters to chapters. All third person. In the last but one chapter, the girl's emotions take over and she kills someone in cold blood. It is written third person and it was described by someone as 'chilling'. It probably works better in third person, because there is this cascade of thoughts as to what this man has done to her family and then a brief omniscient view of the killing. It takes the reader by surprise, they aren't expecting it.

Don't underestimate what you can do in the third person.