In the book I am writing, the first seven chapters are from the POV of one character. In chapter 8, I am planning to add a second POV character. I will probably also add a third POV character in chapters 15 through 20 (I hope for the book to be around fifty chapters). I will switch between the characters after I introduce them, exploring different subplots.

However, the second subplot is only relevant after reading the first seven chapters, so I cannot bring in the new protagonist earlier.

How can I make these new POVs less disorienting to a reader (who probably did not expect multiple POV's)?

  • 2
    Are these Points of View in First Person, or Third Person? Jun 4, 2020 at 14:32
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    Is there a risk of 'Spoilers' if the PoVs are not presented in strict chronological sequence? If not, introduce all three PoVs early but only jump to 2 and 3 for brief in-frequent passages to start with. Then, as the story progresses, increase the length and frequency of the 2 and 3 PoV sections as appropriate. Jun 5, 2020 at 8:00
  • @CharlesGull I like this suggestion a lot. It’s the best way to not disorient the readers. I have done something similar with one of the novels I’ve written. Introducing all three characters in the beginning just so the readers know that it will be told from those perspectives, but varying the length of their sections based on the story’s need. Jun 5, 2020 at 15:03

3 Answers 3


One way to make the transition easier is to have more Points of View - chapters or interludes where the main character is not the POV. For example, if the main character tells someone that they are going to bed, and will see them in the morning, you can follow the other character overnight, and hand the POV back to the main character when they meet up again. It needn't be long - just a paragraph or two at a time - but it will help the reader to expect POV changes.

This has 2 additional effects: first, the Primary Protagonist can carry out actions that the reader hasn't seen (be sure to add hints though, so that the reader can work out afterwards what they did when, and maybe even work it out before the reveal) and, secondly, it will initially obscure that the new character is going to be a Secondary Protagonist; the reader is used to diverting to different POVs, so won't realise the character's importance until they notice how lengthy or frequent their POV sections are.

As an example of this type of hand-off, you could consider the first chapter of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone" (Or, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone", for Philistines Americans). The chapter starts with Vernon Dursley's POV, swaps with a clear transition to Professor McGonagall's POV, and then blurs ambiguously into Professor Dumbledore's POV at some point for a brief moment, before jumping to Harry himself for the final paragraph.


One thing you could do is divide the book in Parts that encompass several chapters and possibly even label them by the point of view character.


In Robert A. Heinlein's book, Podkayne of Mars, the narrative is from the viewpoint of Podkayne. Late in the book, she is killed (or not killed, depending upon which version you read) and the narrative is taken over by her brother, Clark. He simply states something along the lines of, "I am writing in the diary now." So, you could have the character announce the change of viewpoint in the story, as Heinlein did.


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