Single Lead vs Multi-leads

#1
Hi, new writer here. 

Currently, my novel is following 1 protagonist, Leor. I wish to know if I should be writing from different characters' pov as well. When/ how should I do it? 
I've read a couple of the popular novels on RR and they all seem to be solely from one character's pov. In contrast, Game of Thrones follows a different character per chapter. 

I wish to know your opinion on multiple character leads, Pros/ Cons to Single/Multiple leads, perhaps suggestions of novels on RR that have multiple leads, and anything else you think would be helpful. 

Also, if you want to check out my writing, the link is here: https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/46815/condemned-tale-of-light

Thanks,
Ando 

Re: Single Lead vs Multi-leads

#2
It is whatever best serves the story.

Using myself as an example, my current work is The Well of Souls. It has to do with the life of the MC up until the "Final Battle." Since it is a story being told by the MC, it would make no sense to have multiple characters unless I bring those characters in to tell their parts of the story (which may be a pretty cool idea.)

Usually, 3rd person limited/Omni is the driver when multi-person stories are told.

To decide if you should use a second, or third, etc perspective... ask yourself. Does doing so serve the story?

Now back to my work, I have a fully completed novel (unavailable online) where I use three different leads. Each character is completely separated from the others, but each story is intrical to the overall plot. The story does not work without each cog in the machine.

A lot of people make the mistake of using multiple POV's when the story would have been better told from one and the information gained from the POV swap to be introduced in a more meaningful way. 

Only you can decide what is best for your story.

Re: Single Lead vs Multi-leads

#4
It certainly depends on the story, but also on the way you want to tell the story to the reader and what you feel confident in writing.

I usually gravitate towards multiple POV narratives, mainly because I really enjoy getting into the psychologies and minds of the different characters in my stories and I enjoy taking readers to many different parts of my fantasy worlds. I have several fantasy novels in the works that have casts of seven or more characters whose POVs are all important to the plot. Here are some advantages I've found of writing in multiple POV:
  • Even with multiple POVs, in first or third person, you can choose how much you want to reveal to the reader, so you get to play around with the telling of the story so that you can create suspense, tension, mystery, and put everything together in a way that makes readers want to keep flipping pages
  • If you have an expansive world, having multiple POVs can also allow readers to get a look at parts of the world they otherwise wouldn't be able to see so easily through the POV of one character alone (such as getting to go places that one character might not be allowed to go)
  • Multiple POVs can give readers a look into the motives, characterizations, actions, and psychologies of the different characters you want to focus on, and you can emphasize the different characters by making the POVs sound distinct from one another
  • You can give the reader more information through multiple POVs
  • Allows you to add more depth to certain characters, including villains/antagonists, supporting characters, ambiguous characters, etc.
  • The POVs can compliment each other, so that each POV grants the reader a piece of the puzzle and ultimately paints a larger picture for them.
Some (possible) cons for writing multiple POVs:
  • If not written well, they can be confusing and disjointed for readers
  • Readers who aren't interested in certain POVs may stop reading once they come up, or skim them quickly to get through them and to the POVs they find more interesting. Not much can be done about this except writing the POVs as well as you can, but even then, whether a reader will like a POV or not is going to be subjective
  • You'll be splitting your "screen-time" between a handful of characters, which means the reader will have less time with these characters to get to know them and make a connection with them. (Unless your story is super long, in which case, this may not be a very relevant point)
That being said, here on RR I have one fiction that is entirely in single third-person POV (Murder in Heliopolis). I chose it because I wanted readers to be able to follow the detective's investigation and thought processes and find clues along with him so that they can form their own theories and ideas as they read. So it was a decision I made based on how I wanted to tell the story and what I wanted to do with it. Here are some pros of writing in single POV:
  • Readers follow one character through the story; it's simple and straightforward, and they don't need to worry about keeping track of all of the POV characters.
  • You only need to really create one distinct narrative voice - the one for the POV character.
  • Things can be revealed to the readers as they are revealed to the character, so that they learn along with them. (This can actually apply to multiple POVs, too)
  • Readers can create a strong emotional connection with the character, since they're with them the whole time.
  • If it's an omniscient POV, readers can still get all of the information they need. (And, if written well, they can do the same with a subjective POV)
Some (possible) cons for writing single POV:
  • If the POV character isn't interesting to the reader, they may not want to read the story
Some people also argue that multiple POV is better for a wider-spanning and bigger series of books, whereas standalone novels or short series will work well with a single POV. I'm not so sure; I think it depends on the story and its execution, as does so much when it comes to the decisions that we take as writers. In fact, pretty much everything listed above is a question of execution.

Hope this helps!

Re: Single Lead vs Multi-leads

#5
I agree with everyone else that it depends on the story you are trying to tell. Not every story can work well with multi povs and at that, what point of view the povs are in. 

Personally, I enjoy multi povs that are in third person more than first. This is because they are more flexible when writing and allow more movement then sticking to a first person point of view. 

I write with three POVs and one side POV due to my story being focused on multiple events happening around the same time. 

Why do you want to write multiple povs? Would it help your characters develop better? Or is it to spice up the story? Can you tell the same story without multiple povs or do you need them for it? 

Re: Single Lead vs Multi-leads

#6

and0 Wrote: Hi, new writer here. 

Currently, my novel is following 1 protagonist, Leor. I wish to know if I should be writing from different characters' pov as well. When/ how should I do it? 
I've read a couple of the popular novels on RR and they all seem to be solely from one character's pov. In contrast, Game of Thrones follows a different character per chapter. 

I wish to know your opinion on multiple character leads, Pros/ Cons to Single/Multiple leads, perhaps suggestions of novels on RR that have multiple leads, and anything else you think would be helpful. 

Also, if you want to check out my writing, the link is here: https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/46815/condemned-tale-of-light

Thanks,
Ando
As a multi-pov writer, I think the biggest pro and con is the same: complexity. Witting multi-pov is more complex, but it also gives you the opportunity to write a more complex story, if that's something you're interested in doing.

Re: Single Lead vs Multi-leads

#7

nickfeast Wrote: Thanks for the input. I took a glimpse at your first chapter and saw your map. If I may, you can use inkarnate to generate a fantasy map for free. I use it to create mine. Thought it might be helpful.
and0 Wrote: Hi, new writer here. 

Currently, my novel is following 1 protagonist, Leor. I wish to know if I should be writing from different characters' pov as well. When/ how should I do it? 
I've read a couple of the popular novels on RR and they all seem to be solely from one character's pov. In contrast, Game of Thrones follows a different character per chapter. 

I wish to know your opinion on multiple character leads, Pros/ Cons to Single/Multiple leads, perhaps suggestions of novels on RR that have multiple leads, and anything else you think would be helpful. 

Also, if you want to check out my writing, the link is here: https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/46815/condemned-tale-of-light

Thanks,
Ando
As a multi-pov writer, I think the biggest pro and con is the same: complexity. Witting multi-pov is more complex, but it also gives you the opportunity to write a more complex story, if that's something you're interested in doing.

Re: Single Lead vs Multi-leads

#8
multi leads are best for everything, but a single lead, ideally with unreliable narration, shines the best in:

-mystery, thriller(you want the reader to know exactly as much as the mc and keep wondering)

-romance(you want the reader to feel what the mc feels, and not know if romance is even reciprocated or not and other ways to create tension in this genre)

Re: Single Lead vs Multi-leads

#9
Some people here have great suggestions! My only "tip" I would add is:

Be passionate about the character's inclusion in the story. Don't just write someone in because you "need information to be given to the reader" or some other sterile justification. If you're not excited to get this character in as a viewpoint, consider that you might not need them. The more passionate you are about the character in the story, and how their narrative weaves into the bigger narrative, the more you know they're required to tell a great story!

Trust me, passion in the author translates to the reader. If you're bored with a character, likely the readers are bored too.

Re: Single Lead vs Multi-leads

#10
The answer that people give above are do what serves the story. And that's true. Now, I'm going to answer your question which no one really seemed to touch upon. Is it good to do a multi-pov webnovel? And the answer to that is no.

Webnovels are mainly vehicles for self-insertion more than other media are. That's why OP MC is so prevalent, isekai, reincarnation, etc. etc., it's because most people self insert "by default" when reading webnovels. If you do multi-povs, that's going to be annoying as hell to most readers.

Even if we take out the self-insert aspect, people will generally have preferences for certain povs. I see you release like once a week. Let's say you'll have POV A for 2 chapters, then POV B (which people hate) for another 2 chapters. So, that's 2 weeks people will have to read something they hate to get back to POV A which they like. People can argue all they want that POV B will complete the story, but will you really tell your readers wait for 2 weeks to get back to the POV A that they prefer?

I experimented with sort of multi-pov in one arc of my story, that's why I have first-hand experience with comparing multi-pov with one lead. I'm not saying multi-pov is bad, I'm saying that it's not preferred. Like how you can write the best ever romance webnovel the world has ever seen, and it still won't go very far here in RR because romance genre is not preferred.

What you can do is still maintain your protagonist as main lead, and then write a side pov chapter every like 5-10 chapters or so. That's kind of what I do now in my arc4 after experimenting in arc3 with multi-pov and readers are okay with it.

Re: Single Lead vs Multi-leads

#11
Keep in mind that most of those top stories are LitRPGs, isekais and such. Both those sub-genres have the same hook: character growth, both literal and metaphorical.

If you have multiple PoVs in those genres, then the main hook, the protagonist's growth, falls to the wayside. I'd argue that, unless you're doing something more experimental, that's the best and easiest way to handle them since it allows you to keep the focus on the most important thing: growth. Which also happens to be the thing that readers want to see.

Now if you were doing epic fantasy, I'd argue that that sub-genre works better with multiple PoVs.

However, these are generalisations. Ultimately it comes down to execution. If you can pull off a multiple PoV LitRPG, then by all means, go ahead.

Re: Single Lead vs Multi-leads

#12

and0 Wrote:
nickfeast Wrote: Thanks for the input. I took a glimpse at your first chapter and saw your map. If I may, you can use inkarnate to generate a fantasy map for free. I use it to create mine. Thought it might be helpful.
and0 Wrote: Hi, new writer here. 

Currently, my novel is following 1 protagonist, Leor. I wish to know if I should be writing from different characters' pov as well. When/ how should I do it? 
I've read a couple of the popular novels on RR and they all seem to be solely from one character's pov. In contrast, Game of Thrones follows a different character per chapter. 

I wish to know your opinion on multiple character leads, Pros/ Cons to Single/Multiple leads, perhaps suggestions of novels on RR that have multiple leads, and anything else you think would be helpful. 

Also, if you want to check out my writing, the link is here: https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/46815/condemned-tale-of-light

Thanks,
Ando
As a multi-pov writer, I think the biggest pro and con is the same: complexity. Witting multi-pov is more complex, but it also gives you the opportunity to write a more complex story, if that's something you're interested in doing.
Maybe so, I might have a look :)

Re: Single Lead vs Multi-leads

#14
As a reader I can say that in a lot of novels even ones I would consider good, I simply skip chapters with povs other than the Mc. Like “so I’m a spider so what”. Simply because I don’t care about their perspective unless it related to the mc. Shorter POV (One time) that are directly related to the mc are great however.

Although in stories like overlord other povs are the bread and butter of the story.

Re: Single Lead vs Multi-leads

#15

Atheos Wrote: As a reader I can say that in a lot of novels even ones I would consider good, I simply skip chapters with povs other than the Mc. Like “so I’m a spider so what”. Simply because I don’t care about their perspective unless it related to the mc. Shorter POV (One time) that are directly related to the mc are great however.

Although in stories like overlord other povs are the bread and butter of the story.

I'm glad you brought up animes and such. That is my end goal with my novel, to turn it into a manga. After considering everyone's thoughts, this is how I plan on tackling the POV issue: I will give different POVs occasionally if it adds to the narrative. The main POV will still be my MC. I guess I'll be treating it like an anime where most of the story follows the heroes but will have episodes/ scenes that follow a different character who is related to the MC. 

Re: Single Lead vs Multi-leads

#16
A homework assignment for you:

Take 5 chapters of your book and read them.  Now make a list of every character.  Add to your list a few narrators, one that has god-like power (able to read thoughts, see in the dark, x-ray vision ... -  whatever is required to know something that the people there do not), and one that just happens to be in the room but completely unnoticed - these narrators have versions, some are reporters telling "just  the facts", some are activists trying mislead the reader, you may come up  with several more. Write up backgrounds for any characters that you don't have one for -  because it was dinner time you know there had to have been someone eating at the next table, so figure them out.  Now rewrite your those chapters from the point of view of each.  Of course the guy eating at the next table only hears the loudest moments (highlights!)  so their part is quick, but write it anytime.

Now  wait several days.  Then re-read the story from each point of view.  Each will tell different things, and hide others from the readers.  Each different telling will change the story.  If you want to mix perspectives you can play with that.  Often the best perspective is a minor character.

Okay, the above should take months, so most of you won't do it.  However you can do a quick version in your head for most and just a subset.  The right narrator is key to a good story.