Dizzying POVs

Do you have a POV preference? Do many authors still use omniscient POV? Is there a proper way to use multiple POVs (or is it PsOV?) so as not to confuse the reader? I've read a book that jumped from POV to POV, sometimes in the same paragraph or sentence, and not only did I feel dizzy, I felt schizophrenic!

The story determines the POV. Some stories need to be first person, others need to be third. If you're not sure which your story needs to be, rewrite a couple of chapters in various POVs. Which one works? When you hit the right one, you'll know.

Yes, there is a proper way to use multiple POVs but I don't recommend it unless you know what you're doing. Someone help me out with examples--the only ones I can think of right off are ones that I'm embarrassed to admit I've read.

You cannot change POVs within the same sentence or paragraph. If you're going to do multiple POVs, you need to give some indication that you're changing, like a new chapter (my preference) or a *** or even an extra paragraph return.

[POV is Point of View. If you don't know the difference between various POVs, go to the library and find a writing book that talks about it. Study it until you can tell in the first sentence what a book is written in.)

I was talking to some friends last night and they reminded me of a couple of YA titles that handle changing POV well:
Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
My Angelica by Carol Lynch Williams
The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg

Also, you can read some discussions of changing POV here and here. If you know of others, post them in the comments section.


Anonymous said...

I can speak fairly authoritatively about writing in third person. I am knowledgeable about first person. Can anyone help me find a good source on information about 2nd person? Did they just get excited about things and forget they were forgetting second person? Is there a personal injury or possibly even a institutional bias lawsuit waiting to happen? And who is this poor soul "the second person" who has pretty much become a non-person? Does anyone every talk about the guy anymore? Does someone need a hug?

Annette Lyon said...

Almost no one writes in second person, because it's painfully hard to keep up for an entire book. 2nd person is would go like this: "You ran across the road. You go hit by a car. You felt bled a lot. You died." Weird reading.

Jeff Savage said...

Harlan Coben's book the innocent is a great example of using 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person in a single novel and actually pulling it off.

Here's the beginning of chapter 7

"Here is how you find your soul mate.

It is spring break your freshman year in college. Most of your friends head down to Daytona Beach, but your high school bud, Rick has a mother in the travel business."