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Friday, March 27, 2009

How Many, How Many?

How many points of view do you think should be included in a romance novel? Just the hero and heroine? Or do you like for secondary characters to also have their turn?

In general, I’ve always thought that if you had a full length novel you needed secondary characters’ POV to enhance and move the story along. Imagine my surprise when I recently received a very nice email from a publisher to whom I had submitted a novel. She told me she loved it, but I had to get rid of all POVs except the hero and heroine.

I suppose I could do it, but I think it would weaken the story because a major portion of the novel centers on how the hero and heroine hurt others with their actions. I think having multiple POVs gave a sense of urgency to the story that would be missing without the secondary characters voice.

On the other hand, The Welcome Inn has multiple POV's, and the reviews on it were great.

So, what’s an author to do? I spoke with Karin Gillespie a few months ago, and she said she doesn’t have too many POVs. In her next novel she has four main characters, but she only has two POVs.

Authors and readers, what do you think? Do you like the secondary characters to have a voice?


  1. Well, there have been times when I've been intrigued by a secondary character and wondered about him or her and how they played out in the story, the connection, etc. Then, I get to the end and ... nothing! Why were they even in there to begin with?

  2. I'm sure each publishing house has a different answer to your question. For me, I usually have three POV's The hero, the heroin and the villian.

    The villian usually has his POV sprinkled throughout the MS, but the Main 2 characters have the main spotlight.

  3. It varies from publishing house to publishing house. I prefer just the hero and the heroine. Then again, I'm one for sequels or branch off novels so that the secondary characters can tell their story in their own right. But Adelle's suggestion of the hero/heroin/villain works quite nicely too.

  4. My first book ever had everyone's pov--even the horse (accidentally). Now-a-days it's the hero/heroine and depending on the story, once in a while the villian. And since I've begun writing that way, it tends to be the way I prefer books written.

  5. Hi, Elaine. I used to think multiple POVs were fine until I realized my favorite authors didn't have more than 2. I changed the way I wrote. The 2 focus on how the hero/heroine's romance progresses. I've found three work in romantic suspense. But everyone wants to know what the villain is thinking! And since I studied human behavior ad nauseum, I'm a firm believer that what humans have/do/think are three different things. I don't believe what a character says unless we're in his/her POV. People lie, and anthropology takes the reason for lying into account in populations studies... That said, a lot of mystery can be hidden by staying in a character's POV. It's a tough call with changing your story. The advice I was given is look at the last five years worth of new releases at the publishers you're interested in. If they allow for multiple POVs (excluding the horse, Stacey), query them! ;)

  6. Thanks for helping me out, everyone. I think I probably have too many points of view.