Author Topic: What's your opinion on multiple vs single POV? (Post-apoc)  (Read 576 times)  

Offline Corvid

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What's your opinion on multiple vs single POV? (Post-apoc)
« on: September 23, 2020, 11:53:32 am »
Interested in hearing your preference - IF - you were to read a story set at the beginning of an apocalyptic event, and then as it unfolds post-apocalyptic event...

Would you prefer this story be told through one singular protagonist (I write in third person, btw), or do you prefer reading different chapters featuring different characters, i.e. multiple protagonists, all dealing with the same event and fallout? Do you like a handful of POV characters, just a few, or several? Or, again... is it just one?

Feel free to expand on your reasons, one way or the other.

Thank you.


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    Offline MorrowWriter

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    Re: What's your opinion on multiple vs single POV? (Post-apoc)
    « Reply #1 on: September 23, 2020, 12:29:43 pm »
    I suppose it depends on whether you're aiming for an epic feel, or something more intimate. Epic post-apocalyptic novels tend to go with multiple protags. The Stand is the example that comes to mind. There are something like six major POV characters, then 20 or so other POV characters. The Road is at the other end of the scale. Haven't read it in ages, but I think it's mainly told from one character's perspective.

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    Offline Corvid

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    Re: What's your opinion on multiple vs single POV? (Post-apoc)
    « Reply #2 on: September 23, 2020, 01:01:10 pm »
    I suppose it depends on whether you're aiming for an epic feel, or something more intimate. Epic post-apocalyptic novels tend to go with multiple protags. The Stand is the example that comes to mind. There are something like six major POV characters, then 20 or so other POV characters. The Road is at the other end of the scale. Haven't read it in ages, but I think it's mainly told from one character's perspective.

    Hmm, yes, good point. Epic-ness is the thing to keep in mind. I didn't realize 'The Stand' had so many major POVs. Blasphemy to say, but I've still yet to read it.  :o

    For my own story, I am aiming for something tending more towards epic. Then again, I really quite like 'Overcoming the Monster' type-stories, of which there is some of in my apoc/post-apoc story.

    There are great examples of 'Overcoming the Monster' archetypes where it's told more intimately - say something like 'Alien' or 'The Terminator'. But, my story is more globally focused, so I suppose this answers the question for me, doesn't it? lol

    I still really like those intimate, scary stories though. This is what makes it a tough call. But, then when I think about how the whole world becomes imperiled in my story, I guess that automatically lends itself to multiple POVs, right? I might be doing the thing a disservice by telling it only through one person in one small part of the world.

    Decisions, decisions.

    Thanks for your response.



    Offline jvin248

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    Re: What's your opinion on multiple vs single POV? (Post-apoc)
    « Reply #3 on: September 23, 2020, 01:21:14 pm »
    .

    Sometimes it's useful to have a scene inside the head of the villain or another character, to let the reader in on something devious that the main character will only uncover later.

    Current trilogy I'm working on (in another genre) I have four main characters but as needed a few secondary characters and some of the villains get a bit of time on the stage. You can show the main character a dead body, but sometimes it's more powerful and insightful to see just how frighteningly wicked the villain is to his victims.

    .
           

    Offline NikOK

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    Re: What's your opinion on multiple vs single POV? (Post-apoc)
    « Reply #4 on: September 23, 2020, 01:47:43 pm »
    Yeah, I think either way can be done well.  A post apocalypse setting does leave a lot of down time for your characters, and having multiple pov can help you skip sections and jump back to a character when the exciting things are happening.  Realistically, if you followed someone 24/7 and all they had to do in a day was survive, it would be the most boring thing ever.  Probably just watching a lot of them purifying water and sleeping.  But a single pov can also have fun side characters, arching villains to dodge, apocalypse dogs to befriend, or whatever else is going on.  Multiple pov is a good way to keep focused on the interesting things, but single can give you a much more intimate view of this character living in this crazy world.  If it was me, I'd do single if I wanted to focus on what the apocalypse world does to a person, and multiple if I want to focus on what the people are doing in an apocalypse world.

    Also, the first thing I thought of when you said multiple post-apoc was the book of World War Z (which was as different from the movie as it possibly could have been).  It's a good example of an extreme multiple pov where a lot of the characters just tell their story and then never come back in the book, then you the reader have to piece the whole picture together from these multiple first hand accounts.  Pretty good book, and obviously very successful.  Probably didn't hurt the popularity that it was done by Mel Brooks' son, but I remember enjoying it.

    Offline Decon

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    Re: What's your opinion on multiple vs single POV? (Post-apoc)
    « Reply #5 on: September 23, 2020, 02:17:19 pm »
    It would be difficult to write a pre and post apolyptic story without multiple points of view if events are worldwide, or nationwide, as a single point of view can't see or know everything that's happening, unless the story happens in a bubble around your MC.

    I have around 6 POVs so far in a trilogy I'm writing in the same pre and post  genre as you and expect there to be more. I have my MC in 1st person and the rest in third person.

    The story you have in mind should guide you.

    There's a film similar to this example. There could be a POV from someone at an observatory seeing a possible disaster unfolding on their instruments. Then there could be a scene at the Whitehouse discussing the impending disaster. Then it could move to your MC and so on.
    « Last Edit: September 23, 2020, 02:29:15 pm by Decon »


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    Offline Corvid

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    Re: What's your opinion on multiple vs single POV? (Post-apoc)
    « Reply #6 on: September 23, 2020, 03:38:20 pm »
    .

    Sometimes it's useful to have a scene inside the head of the villain or another character, to let the reader in on something devious that the main character will only uncover later.

    Current trilogy I'm working on (in another genre) I have four main characters but as needed a few secondary characters and some of the villains get a bit of time on the stage. You can show the main character a dead body, but sometimes it's more powerful and insightful to see just how frighteningly wicked the villain is to his victims.

    .

    Yes, I always find myself turning pages faster when I know more than the POV character - adds to the suspense. Thanks.

    Yeah, I think either way can be done well.  A post apocalypse setting does leave a lot of down time for your characters, and having multiple pov can help you skip sections and jump back to a character when the exciting things are happening.  Realistically, if you followed someone 24/7 and all they had to do in a day was survive, it would be the most boring thing ever.  Probably just watching a lot of them purifying water and sleeping.  But a single pov can also have fun side characters, arching villains to dodge, apocalypse dogs to befriend, or whatever else is going on.  Multiple pov is a good way to keep focused on the interesting things, but single can give you a much more intimate view of this character living in this crazy world.  If it was me, I'd do single if I wanted to focus on what the apocalypse world does to a person, and multiple if I want to focus on what the people are doing in an apocalypse world.

    Also, the first thing I thought of when you said multiple post-apoc was the book of World War Z (which was as different from the movie as it possibly could have been).  It's a good example of an extreme multiple pov where a lot of the characters just tell their story and then never come back in the book, then you the reader have to piece the whole picture together from these multiple first hand accounts.  Pretty good book, and obviously very successful.  Probably didn't hurt the popularity that it was done by Mel Brooks' son, but I remember enjoying it.

    A lot of great food for thought here. World War Z was a fun read. I liked all of the different POVs, and I can't believe I hadn't thought of that already. I guess it's been too long since I'd read it. You're right about the potential for singular POV becoming boring. Getting more enamored with the idea of multiple POVs just to keep that narrative tension going. Thank you for replying.

    It would be difficult to write a pre and post apolyptic story without multiple points of view if events are worldwide, or nationwide, as a single point of view can't see or know everything that's happening, unless the story happens in a bubble around your MC.

    I have around 6 POVs so far in a trilogy I'm writing in the same pre and post  genre as you and expect there to be more. I have my MC in 1st person and the rest in third person.

    The story you have in mind should guide you.

    There's a film similar to this example. There could be a POV from someone at an observatory seeing a possible disaster unfolding on their instruments. Then there could be a scene at the Whitehouse discussing the impending disaster. Then it could move to your MC and so on.

    Thanks, Decon, yeah I'm definitely leaning more toward multiple POVs the more I hear yours and other perspectives. I'm thinking for the scale of the story I'm trying to tell it makes the most sense.


    Online unkownwriter

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    Re: What's your opinion on multiple vs single POV? (Post-apoc)
    « Reply #7 on: September 25, 2020, 03:26:06 am »
    Like most everything else, it depends. It depends on the story. Some do well from one POV, others from more than one. I wouldn't go overboard, having a lot of different POVs unless it allows you to tell the story without doing info dumps for the MC, or without breaking their POV (remember, they can only know what they know, see, hear, or are told). In World War Z, each POV builds and adds to the plot, moving it along and giving pieces that wouldn't be possible to show with a singular POV, or a more traditional multiple POV.

    Offline wearywanderer64

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    Re: What's your opinion on multiple vs single POV? (Post-apoc)
    « Reply #8 on: September 25, 2020, 04:20:04 am »
    In novellas I find the single POV is  okay. But in novels it can be grating. The protag better be really interesting for me to stay with them for 300+ pages. Multiple POV gives a better insight to opposing views to the protag. Always 2.3.4 or more sides to a story. I'm convinced thats' what makes Game of Thrones interesting.


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    Online Kathy Dee

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    Re: What's your opinion on multiple vs single POV? (Post-apoc)
    « Reply #9 on: September 25, 2020, 04:55:31 am »
    Many years ago I took a creative writing course; it focused on short stories. The tutor insisted on single POV and clearly, I must have needed that course because I had never even thought about POV before then. The discipline of writing in single POV, I later took with me when I began to write fiction (I have only written a few novels) and although it can be a real challenge at times, I feel my writing has benefitted as a result. I don't think that there is any right way, but single POV has been my way; at least, so far.

    Offline jm2019

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    Re: What's your opinion on multiple vs single POV? (Post-apoc)
    « Reply #10 on: September 25, 2020, 09:12:33 am »
    I prefer multiple POVs and all my books have multiple POVs. My preferences are because

    - Gives a better "epic" feel; you see the situations unfold from different angles

    -Let you play with different character styles, settings, dialogs, preferences, incentives and so on - brings lot more variety to the reader than a one-view throughout

    -Gives it a chance to "bring it all together", which can be really interesting if you pull it off well - tying the threads

    Offline Corvid

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    Re: What's your opinion on multiple vs single POV? (Post-apoc)
    « Reply #11 on: September 25, 2020, 01:30:17 pm »
    A lot of great insights here, thank you all.

    I'm pretty convinced at this point that multiple POVs is the way to go. I've been moving in that direction with my WIP for the past few days, and I think I'll continue with that approach.


    Offline NikOK

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    Re: What's your opinion on multiple vs single POV? (Post-apoc)
    « Reply #12 on: September 25, 2020, 01:40:55 pm »
    A lot of great insights here, thank you all.

    I'm pretty convinced at this point that multiple POVs is the way to go. I've been moving in that direction with my WIP for the past few days, and I think I'll continue with that approach.

    Sounds great!  Hope everything goes great for you and your post apocalypse story.

    Offline Corvid

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    Re: What's your opinion on multiple vs single POV? (Post-apoc)
    « Reply #13 on: September 25, 2020, 01:53:53 pm »
    Sounds great!  Hope everything goes great for you and your post apocalypse story.

    Hey thanks! I'm having fun with the genre, though maybe given the subject matter maybe "fun" isn't the right way to put it. lol I know my characters aren't having much fun anyway. Just hope nobody tells them they're trapped inside some psychopathic author's book, they're a lot more proficient with weaponry than I am.  :)


    Offline ShaneCarrow

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    Re: What's your opinion on multiple vs single POV? (Post-apoc)
    « Reply #14 on: September 26, 2020, 03:09:27 am »
    A lot of great food for thought here. World War Z was a fun read. I liked all of the different POVs, and I can't believe I hadn't thought of that already. I guess it's been too long since I'd read it. You're right about the potential for singular POV becoming boring. Getting more enamored with the idea of multiple POVs just to keep that narrative tension going. Thank you for replying.

    If you do go the route of multiple POVs from around the world, try to avoid doing what Brooks does and making international characters come off as stereotyped cliches. I liked World War Z just fine, it was fun, and I get that it was meant to be semi-comedic, but it was also pretty clear that Brooks had spent very little time in his life outside of America or even talking to non-Americans.

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    Offline Corvid

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    Re: What's your opinion on multiple vs single POV? (Post-apoc)
    « Reply #15 on: September 26, 2020, 11:14:19 am »
    If you do go the route of multiple POVs from around the world, try to avoid doing what Brooks does and making international characters come off as stereotyped cliches. I liked World War Z just fine, it was fun, and I get that it was meant to be semi-comedic, but it was also pretty clear that Brooks had spent very little time in his life outside of America or even talking to non-Americans.

    Ha, well... this is shaping up to be a fairly ridiculous (though told straight, not comedic) Michael Bay-meets-2012-meets-Independence Day type of saga. Meaning, the typical Amero-centric global apocalypse we see from Hollywood. I grew up in Canada, completely immersed in American pop culture. I don't think I could write a non-Canadian, non-American cast of characters very well, so I shy away from that. Yeah, it's probably silly to have all Americans, except for one, as my POVs in a global apocalypse story, but I can write POVs from that perspective fairly easily, and I'd imagine the U.S. would predominantly be the market for my series, so makes sense from that standpoint too.


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