He Said, She Said: The Double Perspective and Its Perks

Art by Daniel Lester

The great thing about third person omniscient is the ability to jump from the head of one character to another, to live “multiple” lives. But, unlike first person, we are not constantly in the character’s head. Sometimes we observe them from the outside and sometimes other characters observe them. The plus with first person is we get to stay with the main character throughout. But can there be multiple first points of view in one story?

With the start of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) I got to thinking of where my novel was going after completing the first part (before November—I don’t write that fast) from the main character’s point of view, only to discover that there were other, quite valuable angles to the story.

Some of you may have heard that Stephanie Meyer planned to rewrite Twilight from Edward Cullen’s POV. Kostova’s The Historian follows the alternating POVs of father and daughter. Although rare and tricky, they do add certain uniqueness to the story. While I’m not a fan of retelling the same thing twice through various POVs, it’s always interesting to learn what someone else may be thinking about a character, or how a story takes off at a certain point from another perspective. Not to mention, you get the opportunity to get to know (and maybe even like) the other character. After all, the more we know someone, the more we tend to see their actions as justified and feel empathy for them.

Personally, while reading The Hunger Games, I was kinda hoping Peeta’s POV would take over at some point in the story, just for variety’s sake. Or even to raise the stakes and the possibility of Katniss dying (the narrator can’t die if there’s no one to take over). Ultimately, though, after the story ended, I found there really wasn’t anything for him to offer. No “insider” information that would have made his perspective compelling. So, as always, it depends on the story and where the author plans to take it.

Still, I’m very curious about the possibilities. And while I do find the experiment dangerous, I’m a “write on the edge” kind of author. When it comes to truth or dare, you know what I’ll pick.

Have you ever wanted to read the perspective of a character you didn’t get to experience?

-The Story Addict

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Two young, mysterious strangers move into a conservative Chicago neighborhood in the tumultuous summer of 1968. They set off a series of events that end in a murder, which isn’t solved for ten years.

Steampunk Literary Tribute. Characters fro Dickens, Stevenson, Alcott, Austen, Kipling, and Doyle prowl foggy London streets on the track of a ruthless enslaver of souls. Travel the Thames in a Giant Catfish. Soar over London in a stealth glider, Witness true redemptions and restorations no one ever imagined.

This is a tale of Terrezial. A land of sand, and storm, and destiny. This is a tale of two boys, a princess, and a journey – A journey that awakens an ancient evil, a forgotten hope, and a world that has been waiting…

About Story Addict

I am a story enthusiast (if you couldn't tell). Also a writer. I write teen thrillers. And a digital illustrator. I like to draw characters in action. My author's site is margaretEalexander.com and my illustrator's site is megzander.wordpress.com. You can find me on Twitter as @markedforpower and on Tumblr at addictivestory.tumblr.com. Other things I adore: Cultural diversity. Martial arts. Graphic design. French and Japanese languages. Music! Lots of it, all the time! And dessert (yum!).
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11 Responses to He Said, She Said: The Double Perspective and Its Perks

  1. ahamin says:

    I chose both in my book, first and 3rd person. My book has some flashback moments, I made them in first person while the rest was in 3rd, giving a way to differentiate between the two chronologies with adding dates, and to give the sense of reading two books in one.

    I wish to read Harry Potter from Professor Snape’s Point of view. It will sound like reading a novel spy in a magical world.

    • ahamin says:

      ooops, I meant spy novel:)

      • Story Addict says:

        I’m always a bit cautious about using/reading both first and third POV together, mainly because the author is usually much better at writing one than the other, and/or the reader tends to get a favorite voice. However, I’m sure it can be done. I used first POV sparingly in my 3rd omniscient, mainly for thoughts, which helps the reader get more in tune with the characters’ true selves, but went back and minimized it after I finished writing to blend it in more with the narration.

        Agreed, Snape’s POV would have definitely been interesting. Not sure I could read a whole novel of it, lol, but maybe a short story or a novella might have worked. I definitely love it when there are characters other than the MC from who you’d want to hear the story. Thanks for the thoughts, Ahmed!

  2. Interesting thoughts. Sometimes, when I’m writing a tricky scene, I’ll write it from a different pov just so that I can know what is going on in the other person’s head. It makes writing the original scene easier.

    • Story Addict says:

      Thanks, Jessica:) That’s an interesting take, definitely helps put things in perspective. I tend to get attached to a POV once I start to write it, but that’s definitely a great way to go about it.

  3. Fun post! Totally agree, love to see the various perspectives. I like a well told story in first, but for as a writer I vastly prefer close third. Some might say I have too many POVs, but I love seeing different angles. I even do antagonist POVs. I think I have eight POV characters over the course of the trilogy. It’s not up to GRRM standards, but still quite a few.

    • Story Addict says:

      Haha, sounds fun:) I like multiple perspectives myself, but I also like sticking it out with one or two characters for a majority of the time. It solidifies the story for me. I used to be a firm proponent of third, but I’ve become more flexible as I’ve started to read more contemporary work. Still, there’s something deep to stories that follow multiple characters. And a villain’s POV is always fun too!😉 Thanks for the thoughts, Vaughn!

  4. Emma says:

    I find stories told in the first person to be limiting. I much prefer third person, but so many YA books these days use first person narrative. I don’t mind it as much as I used to but it can be frustrating to only hear one side of the story.

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