Two POVs in a Single Chapter?

So, I’m writing the prologue for a book called A Game of Ash and Dust, which is highly experimental – experimental to the point that I might reread The Poisonwood Bible (by Barbara Kingsolver) to get myself in the mood.

What I need are your opinions:

A) I plan to write the book in first-person and third-person POV.
B) I plan to have the prologue take up two scenes (both in first person, but from different characters.)
C) It will be exclusively a web novel.

I think you could pull it off if done well…

The prologue from two POV’s is workable, but I recommend a clear delineation when the swap happens between the characters to prevent confusion.

The more difficult piece is swapping between 1st and 3rd POV’s I can see it if you’re going to do say characters in the present who are flashing back to things in the past… I just know from experience that switching gears might make for some editing stuff down the road when one part is written in the wrong character POV! HEH…

One of my novels had the story ORIGINALLY in first person, but then I completely rewrote it for third person, and it was a difficult ride.

The webnovel thing is a pretty good idea. I think Amazon has it’s KDP Vella but I haven’t poked at that one yet. (It’s like a subscription for chapters rather than paying up front for an entire book)

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Actually, it’s Wattpad I’m using.

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Ah, when I hear publishing I automatically think of “selling” My apologies!

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On switching between 1st person and 3rd person, I have a book on my profile where I switch between 1st, 2nd and 3rd person POV all within the same chapter - and do this throughout the book.

It’s hard for me to judge whether I did it well (of course I think I did!), but no one ever commented that it didn’t work or that they couldn’t follow it. And it’s the story on my profile that maintained the most readers from chapter to chapter and all the way to the end. So I think it works.

Perhaps it’s nothing like what you have in mind, but I’m happy to have a look at what you’re planning when it comes to switching POVs and see if I can help.

A) that’s fine, i see that often enough that it wouldn’t be surprising. I don’t always love it for the book but it doesn’t make the book bad or anything.

B) personally… i would hate that and immediately be dissuaded from reading further. I’ve never read a decent book where the author switched povs mid-chapter, it’s always comes off as a case of the author not being skilled enough to say what they need to say with the pov character they picked, or smart enough to just chop the pov switches up into seperate chapters. Plus it looks messy, and it’s difficult enough getting a reader to switch pov’s with chapter breaks, never mind trying to get them to jump mid-chapter.

C) seems reasonable.

A) absolutely fine.

B) Nope. A big massive nope as both a reader and writer here. Just chop up the chapters. Tons of books have dual pov but never in the same chapter; even if it’s a single page, the author just changes the chapter to make it seamless. Having 2 in the same chapter is jarring and takes us out of the POV. plus if you somehow make them similar it’ll leave confusion. Especially in 1st person because it’s all “I did this”. It’s hard enough to write a seamless flashback, and to read, so imagine a flip to a different character. Just use a chapter. Seamless all round there.

C) Absolutely fine.

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I am reading currently two really good, strong books with pov switches inside chapters. They are clearly marked. Sometimes, I think new chapter would have been better. But I also see books where it’s done badly, or, worse, head-hopping. So, I would say, use with extreme caution and only if it is something your artistic vision can’t survive without these switches.

Sounds pretty unique since this isn’t typical. It’d be exciting to watch it unfold.

There is a little piece of uncertainty with this because usually when this happens in first person, it becomes choppy and awkward because most people (that I have seen anyway) would go like this…

Sarah’s POV…

Yada yada yada…

John’s POV…

Yada yada yada…

Even though you’re going to make this a web novel, this kind of formatting is not only unprofessional but annoying to see… which is why doing multi-POV in third person is the way to go because it’s an easy transition. Or having one perspective in first and the other in third. This kind of formatting is a lot easier when having multi-POV in the same chapter. Otherwise, the main thing many do is base the chapter off the character like… Chapter one: Sarah. Chapter two: John.

If you do want to keep it as first person in both and write them in the same chapter, my only suggestion would be to create a scene break and make it very noticeable that you changed characters. For example, the beginning of the prologue can be like normal—maybe you describe trees and a park, and someone yells, “Sarah” to go help them swing or something. Then your reader clearly knows who they are. Then you have a scene break (usually lines or something) and you continue with a new scene but instead of details, use dialogue first. Like, have someone say “John!” and then you describe stuff or whatnot so your reader realizes it’s a new scene, a new person. But you also want to make sure they both sound very different because it becomes a red flag if they sound the same (inner monologue and whatnot).

If it switches up it needs to be delinisted: this is why people usually do seperate chapters, page breaks, changes of font, whatever it takes to break the flow long enough to remind that this is a seperate character.

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