Multiple Third Person

Viewpoint or Point of View (POV) is critical to your story. The Point of View allows the reader to experience someone else’s (yours or the character’s) view of the world. Last Monday we looked at Third Person viewpoint. Today we take a look at Multiple Third Person.

 Imagine yourself as a reader who gets to read the minds of the characters. Not necessarily all the time, but at critical times. It gives you, the reader, the power and knowledge to understand what is going on to a greater degree.

 In Third Person Viewpoints you are reading or “listening” to the thoughts of the primary character. But in Multiple Third Person Viewpoints this is multiplied so that the reader has the opportunity to grasp more and understand more.

 That being said, I would not suggest too many characters at one time. Generally I try to limit to two or three characters. And only with the primary character do I have constant contact.

If you have more than one character with a POV you need to transition from one to another. Here’s the problem: Your reader is in the head of one of the characters and suddenly you switch to another character’s POV.

This can be very disruptive to the reader. You must transition from one character to another to keep the reader engaged.

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 Tip #1 – Generally, multiple characters with observable viewpoints should be introduced early. However, in books spanning many years it is possible to distant them (as in Perished: The World That Was).

 Tip #2 – Unless you are truly great with prose keep your primary character as your primary POV. In books like Perished you can change the primary character but make sure the transition is smooth.

 Tip #3 – You must transition between POV’s. You will lose the reader if you don’t.

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 Example

 In Perished: The World That Was you have a book covering 1656 years. It starts with Adam being the primary character but he eventually dies and another takes his place. This continues until Noah becomes the primary.

 In each case there was a transition (either death or simply a “changing of the guard” (so to speak)).

 I do not recommend doing this in a story that is more compressed in time. Most likely your primary character will be constant throughout.

 Another example from the same book is the inclusion of multiple primary characters. But it is rare for both to appear in the same scene at the same time. If such a situation presents itself, however, only one should be the primary at that time.

 Application

 Multiple Person Viewpoint is in my opinion the most flexible (and hardest) viewpoint for the author to use. That flexibility is a valuable asset for the author. So don’t shy away from it.

 Try it out. Buy books on viewpoint and learn what works for you.

 Your comments are welcome. Just go to my Facebook page and leave a comment about this article.

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 R. Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.

Published by R. Frederick Riddle

My wife (Tess) and I are authors and co-founders of T&R Independent Books. Founded in 2014 TR publishes our books and promotes writing. While we write in two different genres (Tess in Teen and mystery, myself in historical fiction) both writings are from a Christian perspective. I am first a Christian and secondly an author. I love writing about Old Testament saints. Whenever I write I always try to place myself within the primary character's shoes. In long novels that means I may focus on different characters at differing times. The result hoped for is that I bring the character to life. Apparently, according to reviewers, I have achieved this. I also write in Speculative fiction (future history, if you will), plus we've not started TR Writing Services to assist new and struggling authors to write and publish using the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform. And we keep our prices low.

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