Solving a POV Problem

I read A LOT. And one of the things I notice most often is problems with POV. I’m sure you’ve seen them, too.

The most common mistake is head-hopping, or allowing the thoughts of more than one character at a time to take place in a scene.

Each scene should have the viewpoint of one person only. And the revealed emotions/thoughts of that person.

When you want to reveal another person’s thoughts/feelings/emotions, you must make a scene break, and begin anew with the person you want to be your new POV character.

All of that is probably no surprise to you. But it is what’s next that you may not have thought about.

I have learned that the main character of the book (the one who’s journey we are following) should be the one featured as your POV most of the time.

Why?

Because you can share the POV’s emotions and thoughts to a deeper degree. It just makes sense that our “hero” needs to become the character we know—and care about. The one we are cheering for.

I’m not certain in the case of your story just what percent of time to devote. It may depend on how many characters you have.

For instance, if your book has only two characters, then the main character could be the POV more than half of the time. For me, that might look like 60%. For someone else it might be 75%. 

If you have four characters, maybe they take up 60% (all together) and your main character accounts for 40%. You’ll get a feel for it.

There are times when I’m done writing, that I go back for that final read(s) and I realize I need to rewrite a few scenes to make them in the main character’s POV. I know this because my character’s just not coming through as someone I know well enough.

Other times, I may not change the POV. But, in order for the reader to identify more with him, I will have another character verbalize their perceptions about the main character. They might say, “You are just a crybaby, aren’t you?” Or, “That’s the second lie I’ve caught you in today.”

So you can definitely use your other characters to reveal information and emotions, too.

Be creative in finding ways to get us in touch with your main character at a much deeper level. Your writing will be richer, more interesting, and full of emotion.

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