Multiple POVS – Love Them, Or Hate Them?

Posted April 10, 2020 by Amber in Uncategorized / 24 Comments


Until I joined the bookish community, I had no idea that there were people out there who didn’t like multiple POVs.  I suppose it wasn’t something I really thought about because when I pick up a book, I just sort of… accept it the way it is?  I can see both sides of the coin, but personally?  I like multiple POVs.

As a reader, I like them because they change up the storytelling and amp up the pacing, particularly in epic fantasy.  For example, George R.R. Martin tells A Song of Fire and Ice in multiple POVs.  There’s some pluses and minuses to this.  A Game of Thrones is very slow paced.  Martin does a lot of world building in his books and he wants the reader to see every aspect of the incoming war.  Without counting, I would say there’s at least 10 different POVs in each book.

This can help storytelling because it gives a wider view of the world, allowing the reader to see a more locations and events than may be available with a single POV.  But on the other hand, it can be confusing.  There are a lot of characters to keep up with in some multiple POV books, and it can be especially difficult if the chapters don’t indicate the speaker.

On top of that, I remember one particular moment in A Song of Ice and Fire (I think it may have been A Feast for Crows) where a character was introduced and I waited and waited for the character to be pertinent, for that story line to go somewhere… and it didn’t.  In true George R. R. Martin fashion, that character was dead before the end of the book.

So I can see both the pluses and minuses to having multiple POVs – from better expansion and improved pacing to confusion and wasted space, there are a lot of different things a book with multiple POVs can do.  As a reader and as I writer, I still prefer them.  If nothing else, I know that a voice I enjoy will come up eventually, and that helps me get through the parts that bore me.  In that way, I’ve been saved from wanting to DNF many books.


How many POVs do you like?  Do you prefer a story told in just one voice, or multiple?  And if you write, which way do you prefer to write?  Let me know in the comments!

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24 responses to “Multiple POVS – Love Them, Or Hate Them?

    • Amber

      You know, I haven’t really though about “just two” much… I’m trying to even conjure a book with two POVs and I can’t think of one… I think I’m with you and there’s got to be at least three or why bother. ? Thanks, Holly!

  1. I personally prefer there to be one POV in a book, especially if the book is in the first person, but if it’s in the third person, I don’t really mind how many POVs there are because I’m less likely to get confused that way. The book I’m currently reading has four first-person POVs and I’m used to it now since it’s the third book in a series, but it did take me a little getting used to at first 🙂

    • Amber

      It’s great how a gifted writer makes it work! When done well, sometimes I don’t even think about POV style! Great point!

  2. Multiple POVs is my favourite! Occasionally they aren’t done well, like everything, but I will always choose multiple POVs over just one (both to read and to write). They’re just so much more . . . interesting. One POV can get boring, if not done well.

    • Amber

      Single POVs for poorly written or unlikable characters are such a bummer! Like you I naturally drift to multiple POVs – they offer so much more variety.

  3. Hmm, this post makes me realize I haven’t read a lot of books with multiple POV! I think one reason for that is because I read a lot of middle grade and those are mostly single POV (or even almost always? I can’t think of a multiplve POV middle grade right now at least lol).

    • Amber

      Oh, that’s very true as well. MG novels have a different overall feel than YA+… and you’re right, I don’t think I can think of any that are multi POV!

  4. I generally liked multi-POV stories, but there are times, when I actually feel like I need them. I read a lot of romance, and I like knowing what both parties are thinking. Sometimes the viewers POV isn’t enough for me to fully understand motivations and how a particular character really feels.

    • Amber

      Being able to get into another character’s head is a HUGE advantage to multiple-POVs. You’re right as well that they can be used to deep emotion and motivation in romances… I don’t read many romances myself, but I can definitely see where you’re coming from there.

  5. I generally prefer books with just one or two different POVs because I feel I can get to know the characters better that way and to be honest the older I get the more easily I’m confused by many different POVs! If done well, multiple POVs can add interesting angles to the plot, but I’ve also read a few books where the voices were so similar that I kept getting mixed up with who was speaking. GRRM is definitely the master of multiple POVs.

    • Amber

      You’re certainly right about multiple POVs overlapping too much or becoming unnecessary. There really needs to be a technical *reason* for them, like geography or perspective…not just… for lols.

  6. I took a class on eco-dystopianism (I can’t remember the actual name of the class) when I was in grad school. One of the books we read was “The Martian” by Andy Weir. This class was classified as polisci, eco, and English (I was registered under the English section), and it was mostly made up of eco and polisci majors. I was one of maybe five English majors in the class. When we read “The Martian,” the class discussion was full of, “I couldn’t follow the book because they kept switching the narrator!”

    They jump between Earth and the guy on Mars. It’s two points of view, and they barely go to Earth at all. It just blew my mind that people had never read a book with multiple points of view before this class. It made me miss my safe English classrooms.

    • Amber

      This is such an interesting point. I hadn’t considered this from the POV of a non-reader – if someone was not used to reading fiction, I can see how perhaps the second POV could be a bit much. After all, if you’re not used to having to suspend disbelief for fiction, adding other elements could be a bit confusing.

      You’re right, though, gotta love English classrooms where people see things similarly and it’s easier to have a discussion. XD

    • Amber

      George R. R. Martin has a few too many POVs for me generally speaking, but I think I like too many than too few in epic fantasy. Still, there is that balance and it works better for some books than others. 🙂

  7. I’ve never had an issue with POVs either. Probably because the first book I read that really got me back into reading had about 4 different POVs per book. It just doesn’t bother me and some of my WIPs have multiple POVs as well. Some people I know don’t like them because it can get confusing, mainly when the author doesn’t specify who is talking.

    Monica Laurette recently posted: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
    • Amber

      It is very much up to the author to make the POV clear, so I can sympathise with those who don’t care for them, but, yeah! Sometimes it’s just nice to have a change of voice! 🙂