The Cool Kids' Fantasy Club discussion

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General discussion > How many POV can you handle in a book

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message 1: by Paul (new)

Paul (eclipse777) | 2 comments Do you prefer just one or lots?


message 2: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Calaway (bookenthusiast13) | 27 comments Paul wrote: "Do you prefer just one or lots?"

I honestly like different pov but can only fallow three at a time. After that I start to get confuse and mix up story lines.


message 3: by Paul (new)

Paul | 18 comments I like the jump between POVs but would agree that it can't be too many.
Although a number of my favourite fantasies are a single POV and a great character can carry it all


message 4: by Ellie (new)

Ellie Billings | 24 comments I'm not sure I feel I have a preference but I know that sometimes (for example ASOIF) there's always going to be one or two POVs that you're just not that interested in and have to endure to get back to the 'good stuff'. So I guess you'd have to watch out for that if you're planning on writing something with multiple POVs.
I quite liked Bleak House's approach, with the first person POV of Ester (not sure if that's the correct spelling as I listened to it via audiobook) and the other POV being an omniscient, unknown third person.


message 5: by Ellie (new)

Ellie Billings | 24 comments Also, I loved a Handmaids Tale but I'm watching the series now and (dare I say it?) I think I prefer it as we're seeing other characters POV and I feel that it gives the story more depth, not so much the protagonist vs all the bad guys but an insight into why the 'bad guys' are how they are.


message 6: by Ray (new)

Ray | 1 comments I think a lot of that depends upon the length of the chapters. If the chapters are short and fast-paced, even a lot of PoVs wouldn’t be a problem because they’ll simply play their role, contribute to the plot line and fall behind. As a reader, I’ll get past them so quickly that they won’t even feel out of place.


message 7: by Ursula (new)

Ursula (ursulaholm) I prefer one POV. But I have liked stories with multiple POVs.


message 8: by Chris (new)

Chris Reynolds | 2 comments If there's a separate story to follow in each, then no more than 4-5.

However, I have seen books where it's the same story but told through the eyes of several members of the group, so you're looking at a nearly unbroken series of events but with different perspectives.

The really well done ones leave me a little annoyed that we're switching away from POVs when it's getting to a cliffhanger, but then a few pages later I now heavily invested in the new POV before they do it again (those bastards!)


message 9: by Cory (new)

Cory Peter | 4 comments It really depends on the story. A shorter book/series can't really fit too many in, but I generally prefer at least a couple of different POVs. If it's a sprawling epic, I like lots of POVs, though they don't necessarily have to have their own arc.


message 10: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline | 128 comments Depends on the author and the book. Sometimes one POV is more than enough to wade through and others the author is skilled enough to be able to guide you through multiple POV. For most though 2 might be the limit.

Currently reading Illuminae and it’s got multiple POV (reports, journals, communication logs and all sorts of things from a lot of different people) and I’m coping quite well with it. With less skilled authors probably not so much.


message 11: by Abdul (new)

Abdul Malik | 37 comments As long as it doesn't feel like an unnecessary filler and the POV feels essential to the plot/character/world building I don't mind the number of POVs.


message 12: by Ted (new)

Ted Cross | 5 comments I'm so used to multiple POV books that I find myself not fully enjoying ones with just one POV, except on rare occasions. ASOIAF proved to me that I can handle tons of POVs without problem, but I do prefer just three or four, and that's how I write them myself.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

As in everything, it really depends on how the author handles them. I love the Malazan books of the Fallen (literally too many POV to count). But I think most writer's sweet spots for POV is like 3-5.

Joe Abercrombie is a great example of this.


message 14: by Joel (new)

Joel Minty | 4 comments Agree with the most recent two comments.

I love any amount of POVs. Lots of POVs gives a broader, more worldly feeling to books. As in, the story is about the world itself, rather than our hero Ralph or whoever. As Malazan and Abercrombie are my favourite series, the multitudes and one-offs of Malazan I adore, and aspire to replicate. The controlled 3-7 of Abercrombie are great too, because he is less interested in WORLD than he is in CHARACTER, and this gives us a deeper look at his key folk.

I also like POVs that are set up and then suddenly die. Keep the reader guessing. Never assume plot armour.


message 15: by Ed (new)

Ed McDonald I don't have a preference in other people's books. I love first person narration though, and I'm not keen on mixing first and third between viewpoints.


message 16: by Liv (new)

Liv (livandletlive) | 1 comments I don't have much of a preference between one or many, but I do like a variety between the books that I'm reading. So if I read a book with 3-5 POV's, then I like reading a single POV after that. This isn't always the case, but I think it is refreshing


message 17: by Brian (new)

Brian Anderson | 11 comments It depends on the story. Conan is a good example of a single POV. LOTR on the other hand would be strange told from a a single POV. When there is a large cast with a complex plot, multiple viewpoints are often required to tell the story with full depth.


message 18: by Mark (new)

Mark Lawrence (marklawrence) | 369 comments Mod
The Red Knight & Black Cross both have an extraordinary 20+

The first eight chapters of Herald of the Storm introduce 8 new PoVs.

In Black Cross and Herald of the Storm it was too much for me. Not read The Red Knight.

I like a tighter focus. That said, I also like GRRM's epics...


message 19: by Jacqui (new)

Jacqui It's funny, I always used to think 'the more the better'. The series that really confirmed my love of fantasy was the Wheel of Time, partly because you get POVs from everyone who's anyone, including the bad guys.

But then recently I've noticed that the books I really get into and have the greatest chance of becoming favourites are 1st person, single POV.

So I'm not sure anymore. I struggled with The Red Knight because I didn't have time to start caring about all the characters. Whereas in the Wheel of Time it's only a few POVs to start with. I think once I care about the world I'm happy to take as many POVs as necessary, but it can't start like that.


message 20: by Steve (new)

Steve | 109 comments Jacqui wrote: "It's funny, I always used to think 'the more the better'. The series that really confirmed my love of fantasy was the Wheel of Time, partly because you get POVs from everyone who's anyone, includin..."

I’m having exactly that issue with the Red Knight, Miles Cameron, series, in the last book, where the gap in time of reading the previous volume means it’s so hard to pick up the threads again.

So, in general, for me I prefer a very limited number of POVs, especially as I find that I like really well developed and complex characters. Clearly that’s hard to do well with more than a handful of POVs.

GRRM managed to do a lot of POVs in GoT with his chapter headings highlighting exactly whose story was being told and that worked well. But even he got a bit carried away with new characters later on in the series.


message 21: by Zack (new)

Zack (ztyp) | 5 comments I am perfectly happy with any number of POVs. One POV is easy and smooth, but lots of POVs can offer all kinds of different insights into the world and story. It's really a matter of if the author handles it well and doesn't lose the coherency of the story in the process of adding a bunch of POVs.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

I prefer one, but I think I top out at 2-3. Now, a really good author can change that for me. It depends a lot on how the author handles it because I immediately thought of a book I read earlier this year, A Plague of Giants from their Seven Kennings series. So many POVs but I loved it.


message 23: by Jenny Baker (last edited Jun 25, 2018 05:14AM) (new)

Jenny Baker (jennyrbaker) | 2 comments It depends on the novel and how the writer executes it, but I prefer no more than three POVs. I agree with Steve about how well GRRM did with multiple POVs in GOT and for the same reason. I was one of the few people who disliked Lincoln in the Bardo because of the excessive POVs.


message 24: by Nerine (new)

Nerine Dorman (nerinedorman) | 4 comments I'm quite happy with multiple points of view, and so long as the author has the time (and the pages) to dedicate to building a layered, cohesive story, I'm on board. Granted, the more characters you add, the more attention you need to pay to the story arcs lest you end up writing yourself into a corner and then having to pull a GRRM by knocking off a few.

My biggest concern is when a character is only briefly introduced because the author absolutely cannot resist the temptation to show EVERYTHING that happens. Sometimes less is more, and the story is more telling when there is no first-hand viewpoint – every reported story often is coloured by the character doing the reporting, which opens a novel up to more nuance.


message 25: by Elaine (new)

Elaine | 12 comments Great question. About five I would say, but I have to admit that when a new POV is interested I find my interest in the book wane a little bit until I invest in the character. And for good or bad, I always believe that all characters whose POV is introduced in any significant way will interact in an equally significant way. When I I have problems is when the author introduces a character and their POV and then the character fades away.


message 26: by Bernardo (new)

Bernardo (berna650) | 6 comments I like different POVs when they are done right. In my opinion, the author can/should put as many as he sees fit to fully explain the plot and world-building. I'm used to reading books with 3~5 POVs, but I wouldn't mind more as long as they stay interesting and consistent.

Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive contains at least 5 main characters and tons more of secondary (still important) ones, and it's absolutely amazing. George Martin on the other hand, boring as hell with his 2500 non-interesting POVs.


message 27: by Elaine (new)

Elaine | 12 comments Good comment Bernando. I have to admit that George RR has led to some skimming over the years. How the heck did he come up with all of those names?


message 28: by Bernardo (new)

Bernardo (berna650) | 6 comments Elaine wrote: "Good comment Bernando. I have to admit that George RR has led to some skimming over the years. How the heck did he come up with all of those names?"

I don't know how and at this point I'm pretty sure he doesn't either, nor does he know how to give them continuity hahaha
I'm suspicious on this particular discussion for I despise Martin's disrespect toward his fans (I'm not among them, I don't care about ASoIF), so everything I say will come bitter.

But yeah, I'm not against multiple POVs, I just ask for the majority of them to aggregate to the plot and not make me wanna die of boredom.


message 29: by Victor (new)

Victor | 6 comments Three to four is about right, especially for a new series. Maybe more if it’s a sequel and I’m fairly familiar with a few characters


message 30: by Nick (new)

Nick George | 5 comments I'm with the majority in thinking 3-4. Joe Abercrombie did a great job with 3 main POV and 3 secondary POV characters in his First Law trilogy. Highly recommend it.


message 31: by James (last edited Aug 07, 2018 06:41PM) (new)

James (jw89) | 17 comments I think it depends on the book, and how soon the author implements the multiple POVs. If you start a series with one POV that readers become attached to, then switch to multiple POVs, if you don't have that primary character as the focus, with other POVs more as an aside (brief asides), it gets very frustrating, only because I know that as a reader, I grew to love the first book's story of character and if it isn't hinted otherwise, I sort of expect to follow them and their journey. Maybe that's selfish and boxing authors in, but I think that it is a natural feeling to become heavily invested in a character and feel blindsided if multiple POVs are introduced later in a very pronounced way.


message 32: by Clones (new)

Clones (clones694) | 1 comments I can handle a lot but I prefer between 3-5 main ones, and maybe 2 or 3 secondary ones. It depends how long the novel is. If it's a 200 page book, seven POVs is unlikely to be as effective as 1.


message 33: by Lusa (new)

Lusa | 1 comments It depends on how well it's executed. Even just two points of view can disrupt the flow of the story and cause me to lose focus and interest, whereas I've also read books with as many as six points of view that interconnected perfectly and I breezed right through them.


message 34: by E.Y.E.-D (new)

E.Y.E.-D (eye-d) | 21 comments I don't have a preference. As long as the story is well told and the characters exist for a reason then I am happy.


message 35: by Anni (last edited Sep 24, 2018 11:26PM) (new)

Anni | 10 comments I don't have a preference either, I think it depends on the author's writing style and the story. There are great one POV books I love dearly and there are books with a bunch of POVs that are awesome! If the author manages to write great characters and everyone has its 'own voice', I don't mind having many POVs. I guess it's all a question of skill and both have their adventages. For a one POV story the main-character has to be well written, because tastes differ and it's not easy to write a character that is to everyones liking. Plus it's more complicated to show the worldbuiling and different opinions from only one POV. It's easier to do this with more than one POV and I really like it when you get to know the enemie's POV as well. But as some of you already said, the author need to stay focussed and keep the reader interested.


message 36: by Anni (new)

Anni | 10 comments James wrote: "I think it depends on the book, and how soon the author implements the multiple POVs. If you start a series with one POV that readers become attached to, then switch to multiple POVs, if you don't ..."

Yes, I feel the same! If a story starts with lets say 3 POVs, I don't mind additional POVs in sequels. But I don't like going from one POV to multiple POV in a series. It happened with Tower Lord, and even if the POVs in this book weren't bad, I don't liked the change. Might be one of the reasons I didn't like book 2 as much as the first one...


message 37: by Anni (new)

Anni | 10 comments Joel wrote: "Agree with the most recent two comments.

I love any amount of POVs. Lots of POVs gives a broader, more worldly feeling to books. As in, the story is about the world itself, rather than our hero Ra..."


I really like Abercrombie's style and the way he wrote multiple POVs. The thing he does with ending one POV with a sentence/statement and beginnig the next POV with the same? It's awesome! :)

I haven't started Malazan yet and honestly I'm a little scared, because of it's complexity. But I finally want to read it next year and I'm looking forward to it!


message 38: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline | 128 comments Listening to We Are Legion (We Are Bob) in the car (nearly finished). It has heaps of different POVs. One for every different Bob. Apparently the second one has more. I’m coping OK. It’s a really fun audiobook.


message 39: by Kim (new)

Kim (farrell01) | 3 comments I can handle infinite POV's...*as long as there's a reason for them*.

Action pertinent to the story happening in different bits of the world simultaneously? Multiple POV's accepted. Great big thinky thing you wanna say is universal? Look at that sucker from All The Sides. Two things you wanna prove are not mutually exclusive? Let's get into everybody's head. Twist ending that requires this guy to see a thing from here, but that guy has to see it differently? Cool.

You come at me with a POV chapter for a chambermaid we will never see again just because there was a joke you wanted to shoehorn in, or there was a detail that you failed to communicate earlier? Nope off with that buncha noise.


message 40: by Robin (new)

Robin Hobb | 21 comments Five just about maxes me out, but of course there are exceptions to that rule.


Mel (Epic Reading) (mel-epicreading) It depends. I like three. It feels like a balanced number (even though it’s odd) and I want one of those three to be the villain or antagonist.
That said, if you have a large range of characters it’s okay to have more. For example in GoT:
- Bran
- Arya
- Ned
- Tyrion
- Jamie
- Varys
- Daenerys
Are my favourites and sometimes I hate reading others POV. Brianne is the worst! So if you have a large cast and a diverse enough group to do POVs from I think 5-6 is okay.
(By diverse I mean a child, teen, a man, a woman, a peasant, a royal, etc. —I want an easy way to know the characters without necessarily remembering their name!)


message 42: by Mike (new)

Mike Moore | 2 comments It depends on what I've recently read, and my mood going into the book /series. I enjoy a tight focus like 1-2 perspectives, and I also loved Malazan. I have to admit that, at times, Malazan left me feeling like my head was expanding and couldn't take any more before popping.
So after a head splitter, like Malazan, I prefer a more dialed in perspective for a while.


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