Challenge and Reward-Deep Multiple POV

Posted on Dec 11, 2014 by   15 Comments | Posted in Blog · Uncategorized

by Suzanne Johnson 

When it comes to point of view, people argue whether head-hopping—switching points of view between paragraphs or even within paragraphs without any type of text break—is acceptable. I fall on the “hate head-hopping” bandwagon even though I know quite a few best-selling authors who do it. 

What most of us do agree on, however, is that whatever point of view we use in telling our stories, it should be deep. We want the reader immersed inside the heads of our characters, whether it’s a first-person story or a close third-person hero-and-heroine romance. 

The most challenging POV type and, I think, the most rewarding, is the multiple deep-third POV. By this, I don’t mean hero-heroine-villain, which is fairly common. I’m talking about telling a story with from five to eight POV characters. I’ve written several novels using this POV technique, and here are the three things I see as the biggest challenges: 

* Balance. If you’re writing a romance with six POV characters, the bulk of the POV page time still needs to go to your hero and heroine. 

* Juggling. Closely tied to balance. Not only do your h/h need at least 50-60 percent of the page time split between them, but you don’t want two consecutive chapters or scenes from the same POV. I suppose you could write this type of book without plotting ahead of time, but I add an extra layer to my normal plotting—in whose POV the scene or chapter will be written. Since the scene needs to be told in the voice of the character who has the most at stake, it requires some juggling of plot points as well as character. 

* Voice. If you only have a hero and heroine as your POV characters, it’s enough of a challenge to make sure their voices are unique to their character—a necessary element of deep POV. With two POV characters, it isn’t so necessary for the ancillary players in your story to have distinct voices beyond maybe a quirky phrase they like to use or a different cadence. If those ancillary characters have roles as POV characters, however, establishing their distinctive voices is vital. 

So, is multiple deep-third POV worth all the extra work. Absolutely! Here are just a few of the advantages it offers you as an author: 

* Complexity of story. If you’re writing a romance genre like science fiction or paranormal or steampunk, where the external plot is almost on an equal footing with the romance itself, you are able to let your readers know things that your hero and heroine don’t know yet. It helps you build suspense, weave a more complex plot, and write a deeper story.

* Series setup. In my Penton series, one of the POV characters in each book is one I know will be a hero or heroine in the next book in the series. So by the time the next book comes out, the series reader already knows and (I hope) loves the character and is anxious to see him find his true love. By having him as a POV character in the previous book, I’m able to establish his character and even set up a situation that might contribute to the romance in the next book. 

* Richer read. Having multiple POV characters forces you as the author to do more character development, as mentioned earlier. The one who really benefits from this extra character work is the reader, who gets a very fulfilling, rich reading experience. Think of JR Ward’s awesome Black Dagger Brotherhood, and how, by the end of one book, you’re prancing in place, already wanting to read the next book. Want to read a true master of the deep-third multiple POV? Pick up a Black Dagger Brotherhood book and have a re-read. 

Re-reading BDB is never a bad idea anyway, right? True dat.

ALLEGIANCE by Susannah Sandlin

(June 2014, Montlake Romance)

RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Nominee

From award-winning author Susannah Sandlin comes the fourth book in the smart and steamy Penton Legacy paranormal romance series.

British vampire psychiatrist and former mercenary Cage Reynolds returns to Penton, Alabama, looking for a permanent home. The town has been ravaged by the ongoing vampire war and the shortage of untainted human blood, and now the vampires and humans that make up the Omega Force are trying to rebuild. Cage hopes to help the cause, put down roots in Penton, and resolve his relationship with Melissa Calvert. The last thing he expects is to find himself drawn to Robin Ashton, a trash-talking eagle shape-shifter and new Omega recruit.

Meanwhile, as a dangerous saboteur wreaks havoc in Penton, the ruthless Vampire Tribunal leader Matthias Ludlam has been freed on the eve of his scheduled execution. But by whom? And to  what end? As war and chaos rage on, love isn’t something Cage is looking for, but will his attraction to Robin distract him from the danger living among them?

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Suzanne Johnson (aka Susannah Sandlin) writes paranormal romance and romantic thrillers from Auburn, Alabama, on top of a career in educational publishing that has thus far spanned five states and six universities. A longtime resident of New Orleans, she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football, cheap Mardi Gras trinkets, and fried gator on a stick. As Susannah Sandlin, she’s the author of the award-winning Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, a spinoff novel, Storm Force, and a new romantic thriller series, The Collectors, all for Montlake Romance. Writing as Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series for Tor Books. Learn more at


15 Responses to "Challenge and Reward-Deep Multiple POV"

  1. Comment by Rachel Leigh Smith
    December 11, 2014 12:19 pm

    I love multiple POV like this! It’s what I write and it’s so rewarding.

    • Comment by Suzanne Johnson
      December 11, 2014 9:26 pm

      I love it too, Rachel! It’s a challenge to write in some ways but it frees up the stories so much–glad to hear someone else has taken up the cause!

  2. Comment by Nancy Gideon
    December 12, 2014 6:45 am

    Great article Suzanne! I love books that add layers with secondary character POV.

    • Comment by Suzanne Johnson
      December 13, 2014 4:45 pm

      Thanks, Nancy–I love how much it adds to the stories 🙂

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