re: Can I Start with 3 POVs then Go Down to 1?

posted 9/16/15

Dear Editor…

In the beginning of my story, the three main characters are hailing from different places. I have a POV for each. As the secondary characters meet up with my heroine, they lose their POV, leaving the only POV to my heroine. Is that too confusing?


UPDATE: K. sent a clarification of her question, so this wording is different than what was posted earlier today, and my answer has been adjusted accordingly. — The Editor


Dear K….

This seems to be the age of multiple points of view. I don’t recall it being done nearly as often twenty years ago, when I started my editorial career. Writers are telling some fabulous stories using this device nowadays. As for whittling down from many POVs to just a single point-of-view character, I think it could be effective as long as the transitions are synced with the rhythms of the story and you’re very clear about each character being silenced. It’s not uncommon for two characters’ points of view to merge into a single narrator’s POV, and I don’t think your audience will be confused by three if there’s some obvious plot event that seems to cause that silence, or some other distinct justification for the shift. Readers, I’d love to hear of any novels you know about that start with more than two POVs and whittle down in this manner.

Happy writing!
The Editor

P.S. For more on this topic, read Point of View
posted by: The Editor
under: Point of View
Comments to "re: Can I Start with 3 POVs then Go Down to 1?" | Add a Comment
    1. dolorah wrote (on 09/16/15 at 8:46 pm) :

      This would work for me, as long as they were not all 1st person perspectives. To go from two, third person and one 1st, down to one first would be a little difficult for me, but I’m not a fan of 1st anyway, and certainly not multiple 1st.

      Seriously need excellent, distinctive voices for all the perspectives.

    2. The Editor wrote (on 09/16/15 at 8:55 pm) :

      Great point regarding the importance of distinct voices.