Many of the novels I read were written in first-person point of view (P.O.V.) and only one viewpoint character. I applaud authors who can do that. I imagine it isn’t easy to write a full-length novel all inside the head of one character and keep the story from getting boring. I’m not sure I could do that.
Some authors get inventive and use a variety of viewpoints. The most recent novel I finished reading had one first-person viewpoint character and two third-person viewpoint characters. In that book, however, the author also used omniscient point of view, which made reading it kind of confusing. Sometimes, when I start reading a book and discover it was written in omniscient P.O.V., I will stop reading. I kept reading that confusing book, though, because the story was interesting enough. Omniscient viewpoint, as I understand it, is where the author is a viewpoint character, too, and reports on everyone’s thoughts or reports something that the ‘viewpoint character’ can’t possibly know.
As a writer, I always write in third-person viewpoint and always have anywhere from three to fifteen viewpoint characters. I have considered trying a first-person novel (that’s when the character is telling the story directly to the reader and uses ‘I’ in their thoughts–I think of it as diary-style, if that helps you understand what is meant by first-person P.O.V.). In fact, the very first novel I attempted writing started out in first-person AND present tense. By the time I got to the third chapter, I changed it. It didn’t suit me at all.
Now that I’ve written seven novels and learned a tremendous amount about writing, I suppose I could stretch myself and give it another try. On the other hand, I’m not sure I want to do that. Why? Because I love getting into the heads of multiple characters. What I’m doing when I write in third-person with upwards of a dozen viewpoint characters, is that I’m trying to see the characters, their thoughts, their perspectives, from an entirely different frame of mind than my own. It pushes me to ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’, so to speak. It lets me explore different personalities in a way that I might not otherwise do. It’s how I get to understand what motivates people. I actually learn from getting inside those different heads.
In one of the books I’m working on right now, much of the story is inside the head of a seventy-nine year old woman who is afraid she might be getting Alzheimers. In the other book I’m working on, much of the story is inside the head of a twenty-six year old woman who may or may not be crazy. In my novel, The Handyman, my viewpoint characters are an eighty-eighty year old French woman who is dying of lung cancer, a twenty-six year old American banker who is running away from his life after his family betrayed him, and a thirty year old French woman who practically lives like a hermit. Each character is unique and pushes me to explore the psychology of people.
Because of the multiple viewpoints, my stories are complicated and usually have several sub-plots, too. Not all readers like that kind of story, I know. But I’m glad many readers do like complicated stories. I hope my multiple viewpoints help readers ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’, too.