How Often to change POV

POV (Point of View) is a writer’s term to define a reader’s experience to a story. The reader will become involved in the character’s viewpoint. POV has many options.

First Person
Second Person
Third Person

These techniques could be discussed in-depth in the future. The topic for today’s blog is “When to Change POV?”

Change POV at the end of every chapter? Or switch after every scene? Can a writer change POV if the character changes settings?

I use the method of POV change from scene to scene. Using the characters with the most at stake and having the most to lose or gain at that moment. I write suspense, so there might be a point during the scene, I’ll change POV. With a traumatic or scary event involving more than one character during that scene.

For Example: I usually have the heroine’s need first. I try to remain in that POV during that scene. Second scene will be the Villains. Then back to my heroine in the third scene. If the character POV changes during that scene, it usually is through dialogue. I call this pacing. Some writers use the word rhythm to the story.

Don’t switch POV too often though. This is known as head hopping. Your story will take away the emotional excitement the reader is experiencing. Once this happens the reader’s involvement with your characters will lose interest. The reader may put the book down, never knowing how your characters work out their conflict, or knowing how you bring your story to it’s happy ending.

Once you know your craft, the transition can be done smoothly keeping the reader’s interest from chapter to chapter, scene to scene, reaching the happy ending. POV has many faces. Use the one that works best for you. Point of View takes practice. The more you write and read your story out loud, you will find what Point of View technique will work the best for you. Sharon.


Starla Kaye said...

You're right, Sharon, there could be a much longer discussion on POV and the various types. But you touched on the right elements for a brief overlay. Most generally we write in Third Person because it is what most readers find easier to follow and understand. First Person POV is sometimes used, but is difficult to learn to do properly.

We grow up reading books that are more commonly written in third person. We learn to write that way in school. But, in truth, we experience things in life in First Person. Small chldren excel in focusing on the first person POV. Their world is all about "me." But learning to write that way as an adult is a challenge. I've written many short stories in that POV, but I struggle. My mind just wants to shift into another person's POV as well and share their understanding of what is happening. I truly respect an author who can write a whole book in first person.

Roxann Delaney said...

I've done First Person POV, but it was long ago when writing YA. I can do it, but I prefer Third Person with the POV of both the heroie and the hero.

Years ago, Romance was kept to the heroine's POV, so there was no question about when and how to switch. I think readers now prefer the hero's POV in books, giving them a chance to see what a man thinks--or rather how we want a man to think. (grin)

POV switches can be done mid-scene, but it takes a little finesse and practice to do it seamlessly. I nearly always stay with one POV per scene. That gives me the opportunity to go deeper into the mind and emotions of the character, building emotional intensity. Hopefully, that keeps the reader involved and wanting to read more.

Very good, Sharon! You nailed a lot about POV.

Joan Vincent said...

I find POV to be rather tricky at times. Just when I think I understand it something comes along that throws me off balance with it. Somehow I managed to get my books published without every studying it. Now that I have, I'm confused at times. (Big sigh!)
I usually don't like reading first person and have never attempted writing in it. That could be an interesting exercise.
Some good thoughts Sharon.

Anonymous said...

This is the area I struggle the most with and it's so frustrating. I'm trying to study the concept and be aware of it as I read books, but it's not as easy as it seems. For some, I'm sure it's not a problem but I truly have problems here!

Tina said...

Oops! I was the "anonymous" comment. I couldn't remember my password at first! -Tina

Roxann Delaney said...

Now that you've outed yourself, what part of POV gives you the most trouble. We may be able to help.

snwriter52 said...

Everyone thankyou for sharing your knowledge. Keeping POV undercontrol is a challenge. With practice, we can smile at our success.

Roxann Delaney said...

Starla, love the pic!! You look very mysterious "behind those Foster Grants". (grin)

snwriter52 said...

Glasses hide eye contact. Starla was admiring a handsome hero.

Penny Rader said...

When I first started writing I had never heard of POV ... until I entered I a contest and a judge told me to get out of the dog's POV. Yikes!

I try to remain in one character's POV for at least a scene, but every so often I'll slip.

IMHO, the thing about bouncing around in different POVs is that it can disconnect the reader from the emotional connection they have with the characters.