Wednesday, January 20, 2010

POV Characters - Just how many is too many?

Okay y'all....

I need some input. 

I'm working on a fantasy novel that will be about 100k when finished.  How many POV characters do you think is too many?

I've read several books lately that have had so many pov characters it got confusing to keep up with them.  But on the other hand, I've read some lately with multiple POV characters that are excellent. 

So, what do y'all think?  Three, four or more?


  1. Here's a really unhelpful answer: It's whatever number you can handle well.

    I don't think there is a "best" number. Do what seems to work for how you see the story for a few chapters, then have someone read it and then, if they don't mention it themselves, ask if they felt overwhelmed by how many POV characters it had.

  2. I agree with Sandra: it's whatever number works best for the story.

    I know what I like in novels, and that's being able to connect with several different characters. The problem is the more characters the less 'connection' time readers have with each individual character.

    And then there are the small POV characters who are only seen once, but they pass on vital plot or character information your main characters aren't privy too. Like the gardener in the open pages of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."

    My fantasy novel originally had more characters than 100K could hold - and since I'm not George R.R. Martin who can pull that off - I had to axe a few and push their stories back to the next book.

    - Chrissy

  3. I concur. If done well, multiple POVs work fine. The first novel I worked on had three POV's. It was challenging at times, but the co-author and I felt that was the way the story needed to be told. Now, if we could finish editing the darn thing, we would see what other people thought. :)

    Oftentimes, when there are multiple POV's, one character comes out as the dominate POV, so maybe think about that a bit. Do you need all these POV's or not? Can the story be told from one person's perspective?

    Totally unhelpful, I know, but it's late. LOL!

    Good luck.