You can tell the same story from ten perspectives and get ten different interpretations. There is a power in multiple POVS. Often the standard when it comes to epic and high fantasy, having multiple POVs can showcase your story from different viewpoints. It can give you an encompassing view of the conflict from the high king to the general’s cook, Tomas Longstrom.

But there’s also a major downside to this. The more POVs you have, the less character screen time they receive. And the death knell of fantasy is not caring about your story’s characters.  Despite people’s love of GRRM’s Song of Ice and Fire series, the major POVs in that series all have the equivalent of a short novel for the main POVs (Dany, Jon, Tyrion, etc). And that’s part of the issue with a lot of POVS: they’re several different stories wrapped together rather than a single story observed from multiple perspectives. It’s too grand, too broad in scope. This is the realm of epic fantasy but I wouldn’t suggest this for other subgenres.

I read a query on a website sometime back for a book that had fifteen different perspectives. The author’s rationale was that the scale of the story required all those povs. Many of them were one chapter and then the character died. To me, this is a dangerous road. You run the risk of readers losing interest in your protagonist if you devote a chapter to a throw away character. I’m not a fan of the GRRM 3 chapter pov where the character dies after barely being introduce. I know some stories will kill of the protagonist midway through and switch to a supporting character. That’s different.

But the decoy protagonist, the one shot character? It’s a risk that can bore your reader or cause derision. The simple thing to ask yourself is this: what does this perspective add to the story? How does it change the view of everyone in it.

It’s not perfect, and many stories require a certain number of viewpoints to make it work. But many books would do better to have a singular focus, instead of a grand scope but underdeveloped characters.

Something to consider when you devise your novel’s structure.

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