I've looked at a few other questions and answers but nothing that I was really looking for. The point of view is a little confusing at the beginning (and probably) throughout the novel. It starts with one of the characters, but not the main character. It's in third person but follows along with her day-to-day life. Somewhat near the end of the chapter or the beginning of the next chapter it's going to be focused on the main character and following what he is going through (he has amnesia).

Later on, I want to write a scene about two of the characters sharing a secret about the main character but I don't want the main to hear it. So the point of views continuously swaps around. Does it matter dramatically?

I could always start the novel off with the main character not understanding what is happening, but I thought it would've been interesting to see what one of the reoccurring characters often do.

  • 1
    It does matter -- there is often a 'best' PoV to adopt for a scene or story. Switching between can be jarring. But having said that, a great exercise is to write a scene multiple times from each point of view. This forces you to identify what is driving your characters and adds depth to all of them. Writing is work.
    – SFWriter
    Aug 31, 2018 at 14:49

3 Answers 3


There are better and worse ways to do this. It can be difficult and needlessly confusing to have multiple first-person narrators --difficult to give them authentically different voices, and confusing to the reader. "Close" third-person narration, which closely follows one specific character and his or her point of view, has many of the same problems with POV switching.

But the older style of third-person narration, with an "omniscient" narrator, who knows everything, is a stand-in for the author, is not any given character in the book, and has a "god's eye" perspective on the events, can accommodate following multiple characters relatively easily and gracefully. The basic trade-off is this --the closer you are to any given character, the more disorienting it will be to switch away from him or her. So your best move might be to give yourself a little distance from your characters --describe them more externally than internally, more like a movie than like a diary.

With that said, the main concern I would have is that the omniscient narrator is somewhat out of style right now. Using one may give your book a bit of an old fashioned feel, since modern readers tend to find the technique a bit artificial and unrealistic. However, these trends change all the time. It might be the right time for the pendulum to swing back.

  • The biggest issue with me is that I'm so close to these characters. I've spent a while working on them and have pages and pages of information about them in a book. I'm trying my best to distance myself from them, but damn it's hard. Thank you for the advice!
    – Kyl
    Aug 31, 2018 at 13:59

If you look at older literature, Victor Hugo for example, stories do not necessarily start with the main character, and switch between multiple POVs. So in and of itself, there is nothing wrong with using multiple POVs and switching between them.

At the same time, you need to be clear on whose thoughts and emotions we follow in each scene. Head-hopping, that is jumping from the inner thoughts of one character to another within the same scene, can become very confusing to the reader.

Some scenes are better told from the POV of one character than another. That makes for a way to hide information from a character, while giving it to the reader. However, if then your character is trying to find out what the reader already knows, the scene is going to feel redundant.

tl;dr: you can switch POVs as often and to as many POVs as suits your story. However, make sure there is never a confusion on whose POV you're following at any given moment, and avoid redundancy, with characters telling each other, or asking about, something the reader alredy knows through a different POV.


Generally speaking, you want to offer consistency in your style, and erratically switching to a minor characters' POV for one random chapter can appear jarring. An example would be in Enduring Love.

This is a story about a scientist who witnesses a disaster, along with a devout Christian man. The Christian man makes a religious remark, and he says, to the effect of 'yeah, it's not for me'. Said man obsesses over converting him to the point of stalking him way after he's relevant for testimonies, and is strongly implied to also be homosexual (as he hates the fact he has a wife).

Now, the scientist becomes paranoid about this man and takes precautions, which his wife doesn't understand. This provides tension, until eventually the Christian stalker nearly kills his wife, gets driven to suicide, and traumatises them all.

For the most part, this is a good book, and there's two main POVs: The scientist's, and the stalker's. However, the thing that I most disliked about the book was its two uses of POV changing to randomly switch to the wife's POV.

It's not that the wife isn't important or that the wife's POV wasn't worth exploring, but it was inconsistency without enough of a use (only two chapters), especially given most of what was said were thoughts easily gleaned from her husband's chapters (for example, she thinks he's paranoid/insane/a closeted gay who's contemplating an affair and doesn't know how to deal with this, and is asking herself if their marriage is salvageable).

With this in mind, ask yourself: Is this single-use/rare-use alternative POV necessary? Or can most of the story that's being told be told using a more consistent method? Because shifting between every minor character ever is a good way to give a reader whiplash.

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