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Multiple POV in MG

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Liz
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I just read a book that was told from a dog's point of view as well as the owner of the dog.  MG mystery.  I found it very jarring as you never knew who was speaking (arf, arf) from one chapter to the next until you read a few lines. 

Of course I do not like talking thinking animals.  :grrr

However this looks like it is going to be a series - A Dog and her Girl. 
#31 - April 18, 2013, 06:16 PM
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I've used the characters' names as chapter titles, so the reader knows going into each one, who's POV it will be. It's much like Rebecca Stead's FIRST LIGHT (which I just read and loved).

I'm not a fan of talking animals, either, although THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN would be the exception to the rule.
#32 - April 18, 2013, 07:45 PM
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Talking animals have been around for a long time, so I think they are here to stay. Black Beauty, Watership Down, Charlotte's Web are a few that have done well. But if you don't like this type of story, you won't want to write your own talking animal book. I agree with Alison, multiple POV can work fine if the reader is kept informed about which character is telling the story.
#33 - April 18, 2013, 07:58 PM
Sheila Welch,  author/illustrator. Don't Call Me Marda, Waiting to Forget, Something in the Air, The Shadowed Unicorn, Little Prince Know-It-All

Liz
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Actually I did like the Art of Racing in the Rain, also.  I don't totally dislike animals that think for themselves - the dog did not talk to people and acted like a dog, I think that it was the way it was presented, without knowing that suddenly I was reading the dog's pov and then I was reading the girls pov. 

I think I was okay with Black Beauty as a kid mostly because it was a horse story.  I never like Charlotte's Web, even when I read it to my classes when I taught.  The kids loved it, I did not.  But I did not deprive them from a classic book that they would probably not have heard at home. (poor rural area, most families barely getting by). 
#34 - April 19, 2013, 04:29 PM
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I enjoy multiple POV books. In my WIP, I also use character names just under each chapter title so they know whose POV to expect.
#35 - April 19, 2013, 05:36 PM
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For me, it depends on how the switches are handled. I like multiple pov best when the characters switch only at chapter breaks and when the main character is shown through first person with the other pov characters told in third person. I find I can stay bonded with the mc best this way.  My loyalties get pulled at when all characters have the same "weight" so to speak.
#36 - April 19, 2013, 09:35 PM
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This is a great thread. I ended up two alternating POVs and there is almost a 100-year gap between them. However, they are both strong-willed fashionistas so that thread binds them together. I've alternated at each chapter and tried to create a smooth transition between them. I would like to do an illustration for the front of each chapter (or a scrapbook page) but I imagine that's up to the publisher unless I decide to strike out on my own.

I'm puzzled on how to set this up in a query though. My instinct tells me to stick with one POV, my contemporary tween. Maybe I'll post that question in the query thread, but I wanted to mention it here in case you'd like to ferret it out.
#37 - May 13, 2013, 07:11 PM

If it's written in two PsOV, I'd say so in the query.  "Told in alternating points of view, X book . . . " and talk about both your POV characters. 

If one of them hardly appears and the emphasis is on the contemporary tween (it's really his/her story, with a few instances of reading the other character's thoughts), then maybe just concentrate on that main character's journey.
#38 - May 14, 2013, 06:34 AM

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I agree with Jaina. The "told in alternating points of view, X book..." way of saying it works well.

If the two characters have equally strong arcs and about equal time, I'd talk about both in the query. It sounds like this is your situation. The only time I might not talk about both in the query is if one is clearly subordinate to the other. Example: Pat Schmatz's BLUEFISH. It's in two POVs, but one of them gets much more stage time and the story is clearly his.
#39 - May 14, 2013, 07:45 AM
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Hi,

When you are talking about POV, are you thinking of first person exclusively? Or are you including third person, limited perspective? I'm just wondering. There are some excellent novels for MG and YA that use the former. WONDER has been mentioned already. STRONG DEAF is another great example with one character able to hear and the other not. And HOW TO SAVE A LIFE is really well done. In each of these, first person is used. This makes it easier for the author and the reader to feel as if they are inside the character's head. But the author still needs to make certain that the character is an individual and has his or her own window on the world.

When an author uses third person, limited perspective, switching to other characters is more common and less obvious to the reader. I've found this an interesting way to write a novel although usually, I stick with one character's POV. I think writers back in the 1940s--1980s (no research--just recollection!), were more likely to write in third person and skip around into various characters' heads. I have one novel told totally in third person, but I limited alternating chapters  to the POVs of the two main characters. I've used this novel with kids to help them understand the concept of POV.
#40 - May 14, 2013, 09:04 AM
Sheila Welch,  author/illustrator. Don't Call Me Marda, Waiting to Forget, Something in the Air, The Shadowed Unicorn, Little Prince Know-It-All

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As we've seen from the examples, POV switches can happen in either first or third. It's also possible to do one in third and the other in first. I'm pretty sure Bluefish does this. With first, of course, that means really nailing the distinctive voices of each.

I agree that a few decades ago, a lot of third person was less close than today. Now, it's as if a lot of writers feel that third CLOSE is their only option if they're writing in third. I've even seen newer writers opine that anything less than CLOSE in third person is a technical POV fault. What it really is, I think, is current market taste. I don't like feeling that current market taste is often removing this or that tool from our toolbox. But I digress. :)
#41 - May 14, 2013, 09:18 AM
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It's alternating first POV - draft #6! I was writing in close third but I keep getting "great premise, great concept, I'm sure someone will pick it up. . .I just didn't feel close enough to the characters"

So major overhaul now into the alternating first POVs. 

No responses on the query board btw. Thanks for the feedback!
#42 - May 20, 2013, 06:05 PM

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Sharelle Byars-Moranville employs multiple point of view in her new book, THE HOP, a MG novel. I've read this book twice and honestly think I may like it as much as CHARLOTTE'S WEB, high praise from a former second-grade teacher who's read that book to students' delight over a dozen times. If I were in the classroom today, I'd read THE HOP for direction in talking about all creatures on this Earth and their rights.
#43 - May 22, 2013, 07:41 AM
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Sharelle Byars-Moranville employs multiple point of view in her new book, THE HOP, a MG novel. I've read this book twice and honestly think I may like it as much as CHARLOTTE'S WEB, high praise from a former second-grade teacher who's read that book to students' delight over a dozen times. If I were in the classroom today, I'd read THE HOP for direction in talking about all creatures on this Earth and their rights.
Ooh, I need to read that, thanks for the tip!

Mine is actually third-person close. I debated which POV to use and this was best suited. It does make for easier transitions, I think, since I don't have to worry about the reader figuring out which "I" is talking. I've also seen multiple POV with third person more often than with first, but that could just be the books I've been reading.
#44 - May 22, 2013, 11:49 AM
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A multiple POV middle grade that I just loved was BIRD IN A BOX by Andrea Davis Pinkney.
#45 - May 22, 2013, 08:39 PM

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Super late in jumping in here. As a former teacher, I know MGers can easily handle POV switches, those wonderful little sponges! But IMO, whatever your editor says about POV, go for it. She or he knows best and is the one who will publish your story.
#46 - June 01, 2013, 12:27 PM
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There are so many great examples where point of view switches from chapter to chapter, but there are also some that go inside different people's heads in one chapter. Someone mentioned Liesel & Po -- super example. And I'm just reading Magyk (Septimus Heap, Book 1), where different points of view occur in the same scene, but it works well.
#47 - June 11, 2013, 04:20 PM

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This kind of question is always so tough. As with many restrictions, the final answer comes down to an editor's personal taste and the old refrain of "as long as it's done well." Fine the right editor and practically everything is acceptable (as long as it's done well).  And so many posters have already given great examples that prove it's being done well and on a regular basis.

I'd throw in Adam Rex's Cold Cereal series as another example. It bounces around a lot.
#48 - July 12, 2013, 08:20 PM

I started my publishing company back in 1997, because there are a few things that I wanted to do that the industry frowned upon. One of them is using flashbacks, and the other is multiple POVs. Personally I think that kids today are MUCH more sophisticated than we were as kids. I think the music they listen to is more mature, the video games has storylines that are more complicated than most movies, and the movies have a ton of flashbacks and alternate realities. So I'm still stunned to hear the same critiques on my manuscripts. When I wrote "The Offenders: Saving the World While Serving Detention!" I wanted it to be about 5 kids from various ethnicities (both male and female). And I wanted each of them to tell their own story. I KNEW kids would be able to follow along. And so far, I've not gotten a single complaint from a kid, parent or teacher. What I have gotten is emails from kids who said that they hate to read, but enjoyed reading my book because it was fun. I wonder how often the big publishing houses reexamine their dos and don'ts, or if they are written in stone to last for all eternity. :)
#49 - February 24, 2015, 08:06 PM

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I've read several multiple-POV books, and not all are done well. The best, I think is delivered by Laura Amy Schlitz. Splendors and Glooms is perfection. Her Good Masters, Sweet Ladies, is another perfect tale. My kids, at first were not enamored by GMSL, but by the 2nd or 3rd story saw how the stories were going to be linked and loved it. Great read-aloud. Wow! Sometimes, when something is a bit different, kids will balk, but if they stick with it, they are richly rewarded.

I adore talking animal stories. Often, when I read a book, I wonder what the dog would be thinking. LOL.
I also enjoy connected short stories.
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