Writers, being the deities that we are, have the ability to zoom in and out from individual instances within our novels. Independent of whether or not your narrator is omniscient or limited, third person or first person, you as a writer will always be gazing down upon the action in the story from high up above. It matters not if you like it or not, even when the Muse is taking control of your typing and you feel like you yourself are inside the story, the fact remains.

You’re just not. But, hey, don’t start crying about it!

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Story (Down), You (Up)

Our position as an impersonal agent within the development of our story puts us in a unique spot that many would wish they could be inside of. It might feel heartbreaking to admit that you’ve never literally been experiencing everything with your characters, however, we should view this as a boon to our craft. Our status grants us access to a toolbox that holds a wide variety of tools that can be used to spice up, slow down, speed up, and shape your story.

Among these are these dream sequences, fight scenes, reading a character’s thoughts, description, themes, world-building, outlines, and SO much more. But today I’ve no intentions of speaking with regard to these (In fact, I’ve already mentioned some of them), but rather, I’ve come to speak of a new addition

Our position as an impersonal agent within the development of our story puts us in a unique spot that many would wish they could be inside of. It might feel heartbreaking to admit that you’ve never literally been experiencing everything with your characters, however, we should view this as a boon to our craft. Our status grants us access to a toolbox that holds a wide variety of tools that can be used to spice up, slow down, speed up, and shape your story.

 

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Changing POV is handing the baton of storytelling

You see, when I said that being an impersonal agent in the story had its perks, I wasn’t joking. If there are any tools that a writer can use directly because of his status as a deity, the most obvious choice would be POV change. Yet being what it is, changing perspective is not a skill we can employ as liberally as we desire to do so.

Changing perspective is a powerful tool, and this goes without a doubt. In essence, you are swapping narrators and plan on taking the story on a different direction for a set time. And this can lead to a really engaging series of chapters within your book and, all in all, can be very effective in keeping the pacing straight for your story. Many authors choose to change POV when they feel that one perspective in the story has begun to slow down in terms of interesting things that are happening or when the author himself is growing bored with writing the same thing. And this is a godsend to those of us that suffer from chronic Writer’s Block.

It can add that tiny dash of spice that we’ve been

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A change of POV can restore your fervor in writing

seeking throughout our creativity famine, and for many, a new POV can refresh what might have begun to feel like a stagnating tale. Yet, as with all tools that the writer can use, this can come at a price.

And a rather hefty one at that.

You see, when there is a tool that has such a massive effect on the story just waiting to be used, it can alter the story in ways that you might not approve of. A POV change has as much potential to engross your reader back into the adventures in your novel, as it does to yank them out of their creative mindscape while they read your book. But how does this happen? Well, it turns out that this can be the case for a number of reasons.

For starters, one must keep in mind that a POV change is changing the view from which you’re looking at the story. Some of you might yawn at this and claim to have already known it, but despite how common this knowledge is, it bears repeating until your ears bleed. You have to think like the reader does when it comes to changing a POV. You are pushing away the reader from a narrator that may have already been established for some time now. This can have the potential to get them interested in a new character, or alienate them after they’d already invested emotion into your previous storyteller.

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The more perspectives you have, the more you have to micromanage

Furthermore, as derived from the previous point, keep in mind that you’re switching with the purposes of showing a different perspective. So there are a few expectations that might be placed on your back by the reader. First things first, they expect a different voice. Not a radically different voice (however, the more unique the voice is the easier the POV transition turns), but at least a slightly modified one. Secondly, you’d want a different perspective on the situation that’s playing out or the plot in general. And, on occasion, you might be expected to put them in an entirely different kind of plot from the other POVs.

Now, I’m not saying that you should have each of these requirements filled in order to craft a successful POV transition. What I am saying is that you should consider these pointers whenever your about to pull something like that off.

And the final risk that can come about with this is the simplest of them all, yet one of the most common ones. A lot of times, we give the story far too many viewpoint characters. When you have so many different POVs, you might have difficulty giving each and every one of them their own personality, quirks, habits, role in the story, etc. And the more you add, the more scope you might have to give your story!

So with all these problems, how could it ever occur to anyone to change the POV in their books? Why not just keep one so tat you can avoid this truckload of complications? My friends, that’s because there’s a solution. And only one, mind you.

To solve all of these problems–no–to solve any problem that has to do with a tool that the writer can use, you need only one answer. Use it when its necessary to do so. A carpenter doesn’t just start banging a plank of wood with his hammer, he waits until the nail is already prepared to be embedded within the wood. As authors, we can’t afford to use our tools arbitrarily. Each of those items in our toolbox have the same potential to break down as any regular tool does, which is why we must learn to conserve and use them effectively. It’s not a matter of you doing it or not doing it. It’s primarily of matter  of when you use it instead. So that in mind, I’ve prepared a list of questions that could get you to understand when to use POV changes.

1. Is it necessary for my story?

2. Is the story structured so that POV changes can come and go smoothly?

3. Am I providing the reader with a new form of engagement, be it another plot, another voice, or multiple viewpoint characters that they can actually care about?

If you have these questions in your mind while you change that POV, it’ll certainly make your life easier. And if it still causes trouble, then I can guarantee you that the trouble would have been a million times worse had you not pondered on those questions.

As always, this has been the QuestingAuthor. Keep writing, my friends.

 

 

 

 

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