How do you feel about multiple changes of perspective during a chapter?

#1
        In my book, I have the perspective change an average of 3 times per chapter. I've been told this is risky, as it has the possibility of breaking the flow of the story. I originally didn't do this, but I got the idea while reading David Dalglish's Shadowdance series. I loved the idea of keeping track of multiple characters often, so I tried it. Readers have told me it works well in my fiction, and doesn't ruin the flow.
        The multiple perspective changes is the main reason my chapters are so long, about 4000 to 5000 words each, with my most recent being 6000. 
        Has anyone else done this? How did it work out for you? Do you prefer to focus on one main character, or multiple? 

Re: How do you feel about multiple changes of perspective during a chapter?

#2
Usually, I find that it reads really poorly and doesn't make much sense, though it depends on how long the chapter is. The times I see it done really well is during fight scenes, wherein you can explain the enemy's interpretation of the fight and what's happening, before shifting back to the main character. Obviously, that's not to say that it can't be done well, but that I haven't really read any works where it is.

Re: How do you feel about multiple changes of perspective during a chapter?

#3

Armorien Wrote: Usually, I find that it reads really poorly and doesn't make much sense, though it depends on how long the chapter is. The times I see it done really well is during fight scenes, wherein you can explain the enemy's interpretation of the fight and what's happening, before shifting back to the main character. Obviously, that's not to say that it can't be done well, but that I haven't really read any works where it is.
        I haven't written a single chapter in my fiction that doesn't change perspective at least 3 times. For example, I'll follow a character for a while, then they'll bump into someone. I'll, soon after, conclude that characters business for now then switch, and pick up from the perspective of the person they bumped into, and follow them for a while. They'll go interact with another character, then that new character will leave the room. Again, once business is concluded with the second character, I'll switch again and pick up from the third character who left the room. I spend a lot of time with each so it doesn't feel like it's swapping around too much. I've been told it works well.

        Check out how I do it in my story, Voracity 👀👀👀👀👀👀👀

Re: How do you feel about multiple changes of perspective during a chapter?

#4
It's a natural thing to do when there are more characters to follow, but from earlier discussions I've seen on I know that it can confuse some people, so make it clear that the POV has changed. And some people don't seem to like it.

On the other hand, something like 'good omens' would be impossible without regularly changing POV... (Let alone the game of thrones kind of stuff...)

Re: How do you feel about multiple changes of perspective during a chapter?

#5
I think it really depends on your story. If your readers don't like it, they'll tell you (believe me). Your chapters are pretty lengthy, so I could see it working well. Personally, multiple perspectives can frustrate me, but sometimes it also adds tension and intrigue. I just read The Priory of the Orange Tree and thoroughly enjoyed it, though the perspectives change often.

Re: How do you feel about multiple changes of perspective during a chapter?

#6

Hekate37 Wrote: I think it really depends on your story. If your readers don't like it, they'll tell you (believe me). Your chapters are pretty lengthy, so I could see it working well. Personally, multiple perspectives can frustrate me, but sometimes it also adds tension and intrigue. I just read The Priory of the Orange Tree and thoroughly enjoyed it, though the perspectives change often.
I'll have to check it out :) 

Re: How do you feel about multiple changes of perspective during a chapter?

#7

Camelboy Wrote: The multiple perspective changes is the main reason my chapters are so long, about 4000 to 5000 words each, with my most recent being 6000.
        Has anyone else done this? How did it work out for you? Do you prefer to focus on one main character, or multiple?
Dude, you're totally fine, especially with chapters of such length! You don't even need to ask the question. I have chapters that are 1k where I switch the viewpoint two or three times. I write like this. A lot. Some of my chapters are long, some are short. Some of my books have regular viewpoint shifts, while others I throw in the viewpoint shifts if and when I feel it would be a good idea just to see what another character is thinking when that character isn't even a main character. You should read the last Witcher book. The viewpoint shifts constantly through out the entire story. In Brandon Sanderson's Oathbringer, he switches viewpoints in the final confrontation every few paragraphs for forty pages of action.

This style of writing is not unconventional, but you probably won't see it very much in YA fiction. I got a Silver Honorable Mention in the L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future contest for a story titled Teisatsusha where I switch the viewpoint every few paragraphs for the entire length of the story, which was like 50 pages. That contest is the largest one in the world for unpublished writers.

Some readers like to be deep into a viewpoint and undisturbed. That's fine. That's their taste. But plenty of readers like viewpoint shifts, too. Personally, I get bored stuck in one character's head. I like to see how characters think differently, how they plan to betray each other, how their world views differ and clash, how they're attracted, or unattractive to one another. Viewpoint shifts are great. Omniscient headhopping can be good too. I just write a story using that method and I think it worked out well.

Re: How do you feel about multiple changes of perspective during a chapter?

#8

Camelboy Wrote:
Armorien Wrote: Usually, I find that it reads really poorly and doesn't make much sense, though it depends on how long the chapter is. The times I see it done really well is during fight scenes, wherein you can explain the enemy's interpretation of the fight and what's happening, before shifting back to the main character. Obviously, that's not to say that it can't be done well, but that I haven't really read any works where it is.
        I haven't written a single chapter in my fiction that doesn't change perspective at least 3 times. For example, I'll follow a character for a while, then they'll bump into someone. I'll, soon after, conclude that characters business for now then switch, and pick up from the perspective of the person they bumped into, and follow them for a while. They'll go interact with another character, then that new character will leave the room. Again, once business is concluded with the second character, I'll switch again and pick up from the third character who left the room. I spend a lot of time with each so it doesn't feel like it's swapping around too much. I've been told it works well.

        Check out how I do it in my story, Voracity 👀👀👀👀👀👀👀
Ah well, if you're going to introduce it like that, then I have no choice but to check it out...

Re: How do you feel about multiple changes of perspective during a chapter?

#11

Armorien Wrote:
Camelboy Wrote:
Armorien Wrote: Usually, I find that it reads really poorly and doesn't make much sense, though it depends on how long the chapter is. The times I see it done really well is during fight scenes, wherein you can explain the enemy's interpretation of the fight and what's happening, before shifting back to the main character. Obviously, that's not to say that it can't be done well, but that I haven't really read any works where it is.
        I haven't written a single chapter in my fiction that doesn't change perspective at least 3 times. For example, I'll follow a character for a while, then they'll bump into someone. I'll, soon after, conclude that characters business for now then switch, and pick up from the perspective of the person they bumped into, and follow them for a while. They'll go interact with another character, then that new character will leave the room. Again, once business is concluded with the second character, I'll switch again and pick up from the third character who left the room. I spend a lot of time with each so it doesn't feel like it's swapping around too much. I've been told it works well.

        Check out how I do it in my story, Voracity 👀👀👀👀👀👀👀
Ah well, if you're going to introduce it like that, then I have no choice but to check it out...
👀👀👀 yes please 

Re: How do you feel about multiple changes of perspective during a chapter?

#14
I don't mind multiple perspectives so long as they're separated in the prose - I'm not big on head-hopping in the same scene.

For example, if Character A and Character B are on a mission together, I may write from the perspective of A for one chapter, and B in the next - but if there's concurring scenes, then I just 'make a space' or 'insert a ##' to separate who is experiencing what and from their perspective.

Re: How do you feel about multiple changes of perspective during a chapter?

#15
For me, I typically don't mind POV switches mid-chapter but it can certainly depend on how well they're handled. There's definitely a right and wrong way to use them just like everything else. Record of Lundeir and MeiQ are the stories I've written thus far that have perspective switches. For MeiQ, it's pretty straightforward, one of my two protagonists gets POV for the chapter and I rarely have a need to switch since the chapters are so short.
For RoL, I similarly pick a specific POV for a chapter in most cases or, if I do need to switch mid-chapter, I'll usually wait until one character's scene/event is done before making the switch. I did sort of break this rule in one particular chapter (which I'm pretty sure ended up being my longest chapter, no less), mostly because that chapter was covering multiple concurrent events and was the start of wrapping up the first third of the plot. 

Re: How do you feel about multiple changes of perspective during a chapter?

#16
I mind them, and if they happen too often it annoys me. What I especially hate is getting the POV of a random villager, or a random enemy soldier: characters that I will probably never see or hear of again. There is no attachment to them, no point in getting to know them intimately, they're faceless, voiceless. If the perspective switches to one of those "dummy characters" I'll be waiting for it to switch back as soon as possible

Re: How do you feel about multiple changes of perspective during a chapter?

#17

Ararara Wrote: I mind them, and if they happen too often it annoys me. What I especially hate is getting the POV of a random villager, or a random enemy soldier: characters that I will probably never see or hear of again. There is no attachment to them, no point in getting to know them intimately, they're faceless, voiceless. If the perspective switches to one of those "dummy characters" I'll be waiting for it to switch back as soon as possible
This right here is a good example of doing it wrong. I will give a defense to it, though - the point may not be to get to know the character but to give the audience a way to view something that the other characters don't know about. But I'm definitely in favor of keeping these segments short if this tactic is used. Get to the point nice and quick unless you're really skilled at writing an entertaining one-off character that people are going to write entire fanfiction epics about.


If, however, the author is really giving us three chapters of Joe the random village guard we'll never see again... Maybe reconsider.

Re: How do you feel about multiple changes of perspective during a chapter?

#19
As long as the transition is signalled, I think it's fine. I was actually just thinking about this because I've been reading Frank Herbert's Dune, which switches perspectives without notifying the reader and frequently does so mid-paragraph. Something like that is jarring and confusing, but having clearly signalled POV changes is fine IMO as long as the POV you're changing to isn't in the same room or actively speaking to the first POV.

Re: How do you feel about multiple changes of perspective during a chapter?

#20

Slifer274 Wrote: As long as the transition is signalled, I think it's fine. I was actually just thinking about this because I've been reading Frank Herbert's Dune, which switches perspectives without notifying the reader and frequently does so mid-paragraph. Something like that is jarring and confusing, but having clearly signalled POV changes is fine IMO as long as the POV you're changing to isn't in the same room or actively speaking to the first POV.
I love that book series.  The second,  dune messiah,  is my personal favorite.


I signal pov changes.  It would be ridiculous not to