Should I Not Change POVs a Lot if I Want My Novel to Sell?

At Neil Gaiman’s weblog someone asked:

But all the advice I’ve found says to stick to one point of view, anything else annoys editors. If you’re a first time author, do publishers just reject books like this?

If that was the case I’d be fucked. I move around POVs every couple thousand words or so in my last novel, it seemed. The first novel has some chapters that are 400 words. When I wrote CR I didn’t question the length, I just wrote the chapter as needed and skipped out of the character to another the moment I got what I needed accomplished done.
In my second novel I began by attempting to stick to just a few POVs, and stay in them for long chapters to enrich my characterization and really hunt for voice. My goal was to stretch myself a bit.

However it fell apart and I started hating writing it. It was beyond pulling teeth. So I slipped POV to someone else and was back in motion.

I think it is useful to me because I gain depth by looking at something from more than one side. I’m not black/white, but love shades of gray, and it’s fun to show even plot from multiple sides. I also get to introduce more complications this way. All the books I enjoy most use this method as well.

Ultimately I know I alienate some readers by this hopping about. I know of some people who had trouble with it. I also endanger the novel by headhopping too far at the start without as much to hold the reader along, which is something I’ve worked hard at fixing, and have thought about much on the second novel.

But moving POVs is not a problem in and of itself.


2 thoughts on “Should I Not Change POVs a Lot if I Want My Novel to Sell?”

  1. I’ve written (and published) many novels and stories with more than one POV. Multiple POVs isn’t the problem for editors; it’s hopping from POV to POV within the same scene or (as I’ve seen in some student work) in the same paragraph. Put in a line break, and you’re permitted to shift the POV. Just make sure the shift is a) necessary and b) interesting.
    That’s my experience, anyway.

  2. Toby,
    I am with you completely. Use POV to your natural instinct’s urgings, switch when needed. I think omniscient asnd other flavors of multiple POV is damn underrated, and more people need to get used to it.
    I know that as someone whose native language is not English, the most natural thing for me is the head-hopping, rapidfire switching and omniscient.
    Just do it your way. 🙂

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