There seems to be a lot more single POVs going around than when I was a kid nowadays, and a lot of people seem to prefer it. It has its advantages, and sometimes, it’s right for the story. You can’t beat the POV that’s right for the story. Still, I grew up reading a lot of multilpe POV fantasy stories. And when the single POV started cropping up in the books I was reading, I actually had to get used to it–it was weird to read things in first person, after I’d been reading exclusively third person books for so long.
Sometimes, the single POV really works.
The person that we’re following is interesting, in the middle of the action, and/or gets around to a lot of different places. Or maybe the journey of this one character is the entire point. Or if the story requires the limited knowledge that one person has in order to unveil in this amazing way. There are other examples,too–sometimes, it just feels absolutely right for the story.
But other times, it feels like being stuck in cage. I know there’s a lot out there to see, and I’m not being allowed.
Multiple POVs make the story about more than one individual–not that single POVs can’t, as the above examples illustrate. But with many viewpoints, the story doesn’t have the option of being about only one person. Ultimately, many people matter and their experiences, even with respect to the same event, differ.
There’s ways to get this wrong, too–each POV needs to be contributing something to the story, and needs to be distinguishable from another POV. Each POV must be told from the perspective of a fully realized character.
Still, there’s always been something magical about multiple POV stories, for me. It’s comforting to feel that the very format of the book is telling me that other people matter. That it’s not all about one person. But that’s just me, and it’s not like single POV books can’t create the same feeling, too–they just do it differently.
(Note: I am emotionally unready to add first/third person into the mix, especially with the complication that sometimes people write first person multiple POV books and third person single POV books. But I really want to point out that Blood and Iron is a multiple POV book written in both first and third person. At the same time. And this is completely justified in-story.)
If someone asked me which type of POV I prefer, my instinct would be to say multiple, maybe out of a sense of nostalgia. But when I envision some of my favorite single POV books, it’s hard to justify any feeling that multiple POVs are inherently better than this masterpiece in front of me.
So ultimately, I’m going to have to repeat my earlier statement: You can’t beat the POV that’s right for the story.
Anyone else? Do you prefer single or multiple POVs?