[Discussion] Part Three: What I DON’T like about multiple POV’s

Discussion

What I don’t like about multiple points of views

*Disclaimer: By ‘Multiple points of views’ I am only referring to multiple characters points of views in books.

The other week I admitted that I used to hate reading books with multiple characters POV’s. I then decided to elaborate on multiple characters POV’s and what I’ve learned about them. As I’ve had so much to say on the topic I decided to split it up into three parts.

Part one of this discussion discussed the amount of characters in books and what I’ve found I like reading. Part two of this discussion focussed on the different types of ways that multiple points of views appear in books and what I thought about them.

In part three I discuss what I’ve discovered I don’t like about multiple points of views. After all the last two parts have mostly been about what I do like.

There are some things that seriously just irk me off when it comes to reading multiple points of views. I have to admit that probably some of these examples steam from poor or amateur written books, which I used to read when I was younger. I’m going to go a head and say that I’m grateful for those books because they had shown me what I hope to never see again in a book and I feel like that helped me figure out what I DO like in a book.

On to the list!

There are so many characters it gets confusing.
Seriously. Very rarely can a book pull this style off. Well at least that I’ve read so far. I’ve read a few fantasy books with a ton of POV’s but they manage to pull it off and I liked the style a lot. But then I’ve also read books where there are so many characters that I end up having no idea who is who any more or what the point of each character is. When that happens it’s horrible.

You’re reading a book with multiple character’s POV’s. You’re enjoying it and getting into the flow of the random way the story switches to each character, but then BAM, you read a whole page from the POV of a character you’ve never read before.
Okay, so maybe this point here could be blamed on the narrative. But still, when this happens I’m usually pulled right out of the story and wondering why I just got to read this through the eyes of the main characters, little brothers, best friends sister instead of getting the information some other way. It’s jarring.

One character is introduced half way through that is deemed incredibly important and we are now reading through their eyes – it feels like we’re reading a stranger.
To this date this has only happened a couple of times in a book. And each time I throw the book down and wonder why I’m still reading it. Seriously!? A completely NEW character when we’re half way through the story and have only just gotten used to all of the characters we already have? This doesn’t bode well for me. It feels like I’m reading a complete stranger that I really do not care for, yet apparently he’s incredibly important to the story except we had not heard of him before he appeared smack bang in the middle of chaos. What? I mean really, what?

When book one in the series has one POV but book two has multiple POV’s and you’re like ‘Whyyy?’, it doesn’t feel consistent!
This drives me crazy when this happens. Why? Well I find it feels so incredibly jarring that I am forever thrown out of the story. I haven’t read too many books where this happens, where say book one is written with one characters POV but then book two is written in three characters POV’s, but from the books that I have: It did not work for me.

There are SO MANY characters POV’s yet there is hardly a reminder of who each character is.
I hate it when this happens. If you’re going to have a ton of characters POV’s in a book and you’re not going to do it in any chronological order by chapter or section or whatever. Then please make sure you remind us who each character is in some way. You’re a writer, you can figure it out. Maybe each character has something distinct about them that you happen to mention in passing a few times when they pop up; whatever you do, just make sure you do it. Especially if you’re on to book two or three in the series.

This was the main thing that let down The Ashes Trilogy by Ilsa J. Bick for me. Book one starts with one point of view, then it changes half way through the book to multiple points of view. As if that wasn’t jarring enough, even though I understood it was a literary device to separate the two parts, book two – Shadows, is then told in multiple points of views as well. Except the unfortunate thing was that there was no reminder of who was who, I couldn’t remember who we met in Ashes and because there were so many POV’s and so many characters I got lost and couldn’t enjoy the story. There was too much going on.

Reading the same scene through a different characters eyes.
I have not seen this done in a long time but when this does happen I get bored because I’ve already seen the scene happen and I know what’s going to happen so I really don’t want to read it again. Now alternating a scene between the characters POV’s is different – that can be very exciting if done right.

————-

And those are the main things that drive me crazy when it comes to multiple character POV’s in books. I’m pretty sure many of these things aren’t done very often which is a great thing.

Part One: Multiple POV’s
Part Two: Different Styles of multiple POV’s

Do you have pet peeves about multiple characters points of views?

Miss J
x

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10 thoughts on “[Discussion] Part Three: What I DON’T like about multiple POV’s

  1. The main ones that stick out for me an that I completely agree with are the multiple narrators I can’t remember and the same story told from another character’s view. If I can’t remember the narrators or their voices aren’t distinct enough, it can really inhibit my reading experience because I’m just not sure what to think or who I’m thinking about or anything! It’s just hard to connect to a story then because I’m too busy trying to remember who the person is and if I’ve read about them before. And, if the story is the same but told from another point of view, I get bored. Yeah, maybe they’ll add a little more insight to the scene or some new revelation, but I still know what’s going to happen in the end. You made your choice who you wanted to originally write the screen with, keep it that way! (But that’s just me ;) )

    • I think that if it’s too confusing or hard to understand what’s going on or who we’re reading in the scene then it’s bad writing since its not very clear. You would hope something like that would be picked up in editing :/ I guess some authors find that its more of a style… Luckily there haven’ been too many boks I’ve found that have done that.

      I too get bored if its re-told! I get bored easily too so that never helps.

  2. I completely agree – it’s incredibly annoying and hard for me to get used to if a book starts with one person’s point of view and then, halfway through, changes to multiply points of view. It kind of makes me want to put the book down, because it’s like I’ve just started reading something new and I’m not really interested in it.

    As for the character introduction in the middle of the book… that I don’t mind, but if we’re given that character’s point of view right away, I get irritated – why do we need to know what he/she thinks? How is his point of view relevant to the story? Beats me why authors do that.

    And you couldn’t be more right about reading a familiar scene through someone else’s eyes – there are a few rare occasions when I want to see what the other character thinks but that’s only if they’re more closed off and don’t share emotions much. I’ve seen authors do that mostly with male characters and I think it’s because of too much fangirling.

    • There’s only ever been one book that I’ve read that’s done that and it got confusing, but it was a literary device to divide the story from ‘then’ and ‘now’; unfortunately I wasn’t a fan.

      I guess that makes sense, but I do hate it when there’s a completely new character introduced that we’ve never heard of or met in the story before and there isn’t a very good introduction. I haven’t read many books that have done that at all though so it’s quite possible I just haven’t stumbled upon the book that does that right!

      Yes! A lot of the books that have done that are just because of ‘fan-girling’ and I’ve never been a fan of it.

  3. “There are so many characters it gets confusing.” yep, confusing is never good

    “One character is introduced half way through that is deemed incredibly important and we are now reading through their eyes – it feels like we’re reading a stranger.”
    Something like this just happened to me while I was reading The Goddess Chronicle (by Natsuo Kirino), a book about a girl named Namima. She was the main character and the story was told through her eyes, but then half way through the book the pov switched to another character. He wasn’t a completely new character (well, first I thought he was….), and his story was actually really interesting but it’s definitely baffled me a little and took me a few pages to get used to it.

    “Reading the same scene through a different characters eyes.” I actually don’t mind this. If it’s done well, I enjoy seeing how different characters react to the same situation :)

    • I read a book a while a go that had a ton of POV’s, at first it was three and I liked it, it was interesting. Then as I read on the book accumulated more and more POV’s and I started to get confused. But then it introduced an important character over half way through that we had never heard of or seen before. It was jarring and pulled me right out of the story. Up until then I was only partially wondering if I was going to continue reading on, but then that happened and I put the book down for a few weeks. I read the rest of the book a little later and it didn’t pick up. It felt like a shambles. I was very disappointed because the beginning had had such potential.

      Hmm I havent read too many scenes that are told twice in different POV’s but the ones that I have didn’t work. BBut I have read a scene where it continually flips POV’s in the middle of the scene and that was amazing.

    • It always makes me sad when I go in to reading a book only to find all of the POV’s are confusing. Oh yes, I hate it when it reveals too much!!

  4. I’ve heard someone say before the books with so many POVs do the most damage to the reader. This was about Game of Thrones, I believe, and how whenever you get interested in a character, the book switches to another and you end up not connecting with any of them. Also, you must admit that there will be characters whom you are absolutely not interested in, and so reading their part will be a pain.

    The type where a scene is told from more than one POV can be annoying as well. I’ve had good experiences with that before, but I can understand how difficult it can be. It’s very hard for an author to make it work, considering they’re practically repeating the scene.

  5. Pingback: Bookish Recap: June 23rd - 29th | A Bookish Heart

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