Musings From A Bookmammal

Booking Through Thursday–Multiple Viewpoints


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Click here to play along!

Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme that asks a bookish question each week. You can join in by clicking the link above! This week’s question is:

Which is better (or preferred) … stories with multiple character points of view? Or stories that stick to just one or two at most? And, why?

I really enjoy books where the narrative is told through multiple points of view–in fact, when I hear about a novel that is written through multiple viewpoints, that’s one of the surefire ways to get me to take a closer look at that book! I admire writers who are able to use this technique effectively, because it’s not easy to write with ONE truly authentic character voice, let alone more than one! When I’m reading a book that uses this writing style, it does take me some time to get into the rhythm of each different character’s voice, but if the writer is skilled at this technique it only takes a couple of chapters for everything to fall into place.

For me, the true measure of the success of this writing style is this–when I finish a chapter told by one especially vivid character I’m usually sorry to start a chapter narrated by a different character–and then by then end of THAT chapter I find that I’m liking the new voice as much as I liked the first–and so on! I also find that this is a very intriguing way for writers to reveal bits and pieces of the plot a little at a time, as each character has a different take on what’s going on–and, like the reader, the characters aren’t necessarily going to have all the information either!

Some authors I’ve found who can pull off this off well include Anita Shreve in her novel Testimony, and Jodi Picoult, who has used this technique in many of her books. Picoult actually uses different typefaces for each chapter that’s narrated by a different character, which I find very helpful–especially at the beginning of a book when I’m meeting all the characters for the first time.

What about you? Do you enjoy reading books by authors who use the multiple viewpoint technique? What are some books with multiple viewpoints that you’ve enjoyed? Please share!

Author: bookmammal

I love books, reading, writing, cooking, eating, reading while eating, and sharing thoughts about all of the above–plus a bit more! I usually post about topics relating to books and literacy during the week, and then participate in a variety of non-bookish memes on the weekend. Please feel free to join in! Some random things about me– –I have multiple bookshelves in every room of my home except the bathroom. They’re all filled to bursting. They help to make my house my home. –I have two cats who I love dearly, but who I definitely do NOT dress in human clothing. Ever. –I’ve never had a cavity. –I make a mean spaghetti sauce. –I’m a newcomer to yoga and I love it. –My day is not complete without a little chocolate.

8 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday–Multiple Viewpoints

  1. Pingback: The More The Merrier? | What Comes Next

  2. Being able to write different characters in a compelling manner definitely seems like it would be a challenge. I have respect for any author who can do that. You had a really well thought out answer 🙂

    • Same here–I respect writers who can convey ONE character’s voice well. For authors who can make the multiple voice thing work–and make it work WELL–that’s the type of writing that I really like to savor!

  3. Great response and yes I love reading multiple pov’s. I understand not all Authors are confident doing that but I really wish more would give it a shot at least.

    My BTT

  4. I agree, it takes a special author to write more than one point of view, and actually pull it off well. When it’s done well, it can really be compelling and effective, but if it’s not done it can really turn into a hot mess. I think it goes by the genre as well, I find Contemporary’s more suited.

    Kirsty @ StudioReads

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