It appears that most "rules" regarding internal monologue advise restricting its use to one or two POV characters. My novel, however, will have five or six major (POV) characters, and I would like to use interior monologue with perhaps four of them.

I understand and agree that limiting internal monologue to one or two characters is normally advisable to achieve and maintain an intimate connection. But I feel that showing the internal monologue of four of my characters in this particular story makes it deeper, richer, and more involving. Just wondering how others feel about this.

  • 2
    Is five or six POV characters normal? It seems like a lot. That said, if I am in someone's POV, their internal thoughts are natural to me to have access to. But five or six POVs sounds like... a lot.
    – SFWriter
    Jan 9, 2018 at 19:21
  • @DPT - Yes, it's a lot, but it's also not entirely unheard of. Many of Stephen King's novels, for example, have large casts of characters with many of them taking a turn as the viewpoint character. It, or the Stand, for example.
    – Jules
    Jan 11, 2018 at 1:13

4 Answers 4


The key is to be clear at all times whose viewpoint we are in.

So when you change from one viewpoint to another, make sure you give enough indicators that the reader can follow.

This is easiest, of course, at chapter breaks and scene breaks. But a skilled writer can help the reader follow viewpoint changes more often than that. I think I've seen John Irving (pretty darned skilled) switch viewpoint twice in a single paragraph. (I think the book was The Fourth Hand, which I don't recommend other than for studying how to switch viewpoints skillfully.)

If you can make every viewpoint change clear to the reader, feel free to ignore advice about "head hopping" or "one viewpoint per scene." That advice is very useful for writers who aren't yet able to guide the reader through viewpoint changes, but limiting for writers who have the appropriate skill.

If you aren't yet good at managing viewpoint changes, you'll confuse the heck out of readers. So get good at it.


Maybe a third person omniscient narrator would serve you better. This narrator knows the inner streams of thoughts of every character in the story, hence it can expose them in the narration as required by the story without really changing the POV. This is likely less prone to generate confusion in the reader.


As long as the distinction is clear from the inner voice of each character this is perfectly fine. Every character needs to feel different by using different voices, because otherwise it feels like the author just switched out the names.

Think about what each character's focus is. Is one of them obsessed with shoes because he thinks it shows important characteristics about other people? Is one of them obsessed with interpreting the gestures of people around him? Is one of them always afraid of what might happen next or what others are thinking?

I am sure this is the right way. My gut is never wrong!

Let's just hope Joe knows what he's doing, I ain't gonna stick around anymore if he gets us into trouble again like with his grandma' a week ago...

The boys are awefully quite, though Joe seems confident as always. I hope we are on track, I don't like the darkness and it should be getting dark in about half an hour if my watch is correct. It won't be safe around these parts once the predators wake up.

Was there something? I think I heard something. But the others are talking. And smiling. Why are they smiling? This is not funny! I am afraid. I want to go home. I need to go home! This is crazy. I should have never come here! It's all Joe's fault for draggin me into this mess! As always... I just can' say 'No' to that guy. God damn it, how I hate that I can never say 'No'. There! Again! Something is definitely behind us.


Well. It isn't advisable to switch point of view between characters in the same scenes, unless you know how to do it. I mean. With all the writing I do, and I write in first person perspective, I can't exactly do that. This is why if I am writing something that has more than one character perspective, I will often, if not always use scene breaks. If it is a story that must include a number of mini stories, then chapter breaks. But if it's a character who can read other thoughts, then you can definitely add different character internal dialogue, like Tui T. Sutherland does for both her wings of Fire characters Moonwatcher, and Darkstalker.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.