So as many of you already know, I love dual-POV narratives. Reading multiple perspectives to me, is fascinating when done correctly, and writing it just never gets boring.

Writing dual-POV narratives, however, can be a little tricky, particularly if you haven’t done it before. Before you start, you’re going to want to make sure that having multiple perspectives is the right choice for your WIP (quick way to figure this out is to determine if you need more than one POV to tell your story. If you don’t, then stick with one POV). Even after you decide it’s the right option, multiple POVs can be tricky to manage, and so I’d like to share five tips to make your lives a teensie bit easier:

  1. Make sure the voices are distinct. This one can be a killer if you don’t get it right. In any multi-POV novel, you should be able to flip to a random page, read a couple sentences, and know which character is speaking. If you find yourself reading and having to check back to the beginning of the chapter to see whose speaking, then that’s usually a blaring sign that your voices aren’t distinct enough. Which leads me to the next point… 

  2. Really get to know your characters. This is the number one way to get two distinct, interesting voices—you need to know your characters inside and out. Level of education, slang, language choices, how their backgrounds affect their perspectives, temperament and values all play into perspective, and you need to know every one of those elements and how they affect your character’s voice.

    Even description varies in POV—what one character notices, pays attention to, and what they think about their surroundings will all vary depending on their individual perspectives. (More on that here).

  3. Pick up where the other character left off. I’m not going to say that I’ve never seen a successful flashback-like format where we went through the same event (or parts of the same event) from multiple character perspectives—I have, and it can work if the perspectives are enormously different. But most of the time, the most effective multi-POV method I’ve seen involves one character picking up where the other left off. 

    The reason this works so well is because it avoids redundancy—if two characters are in relatively similar situations, then we really don’t need to see both of them eating lunch together twice from each perspective. By picking up where the previous POV character left off, you keep the story moving without giving readers a sense of massive deja vu. 

  4. Carefully consider why you’re choosing one POV for a particular scene. Dual-POV narratives often alternate back and forth with every chapter—but it doesn’t have to. The most important thing to consider when plotting out your dual-POV book, is why you’re choosing that particular POV for that particular scene. 

    Generally, the POV we want to be in is the POV most affected by the events unfolding in that scene. So, for example, if a character’s house catches fire, we want to be in the POV of the character in the house, experiencing the fire—not the neighbor walking down the street outside. If a character is being arrested, we want the POV of the arrested character, not the friend watching from the sidelines, etc.

    Sometimes this can be a little tricky because both characters are affected by the unfolding events. When this happens, you’ll want to think about who is most affected, and if that’s equal, then consider which POV would be the most interesting. 

  5. Read books with multiple POVs. This almost goes without saying, but before you even start thinking about writing a multi-POV novel, you’re going to want to pick up some books with multiple POVs to see how it’s done. Some of my favorite multi-POV novels include the Across the Universeseries by Beth RevisThe 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, and Faking It by Cora Carmack. I also recommend Every Day by David Levithan, which doesn’t have multiple POVs, but one POV in several bodies, which brings to light a lot of really interesting points about perspective. 

So those are my dual-POV tips—now I want to hear from you: what have you seen that works (or definitely doesn’t work) in effective dual-POV narratives?



A superb collection of some of Ray Bradbury’s advice on writing, and basis for my “A Million Words”project. Here are a few excerpts of this great webpage highlighting Bradbury’s terrific advice.

Ray B.

1. Don’t Start Out Writing Novels. Bradbury advises not to start your writing career by trying to write a novel. He explains that the problem with setting a goal of writing a novel to begin with is that you can spend a whole year trying to write one, and it might not turn out well. After all, if you’re just starting out you haven’t learned to write yet. Beginning and intermediate writers should write short stories; that way, you can write one short story a week.

When you start writing short stories, the quality doesn’t really matter; you’re practicing your craft. At the end of the year, you’ll have 52 short stories. Bradbury adds that it’s almost impossible not to have at least one good story among those 52. Writing short stories will teach you to be constantly looking for ideas. In addition, every week you’ll be happy, because by the end of each week you’ll have something to show for your efforts.

2. Read Great Short Stories. Of course, Bradbury recommends that you read a lot of short stories by great authors. Some examples of authors whose short stories you should read are Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Edith Wharton, and Washington Irving.

3. Stuff Your Head. In addition, Bradbury recommends that for one-thousand nights, before you go to sleep, you do the following:

  • Read one short story a night.
  • Read one poem a night.
  • Read one essay a night, from very diverse fields: politics, philosophy, religion, biology, anthropology, psychology, and so on.

At the end of the one-thousand nights you’ll be full of stuff! All this stuff will be bouncing around in your head, and you’ll be able to come up with lots of new ideas. Here’s a quote in which Bradbury emphasizes that you must read everything that you can in a variety of different fields:

“I absolutely demand of you and everyone I know that they be widely read in every damn field there is; in every religion and every art form and don’ttell me you haven’t got time! There’s plenty of time. You need all of these cross-references. You never know when your head is going to use this fuel, this food for its purposes.”

4. Get Rid of Friends Who Don’t Support You. The next thing that Bradbury recommends is that you fire all of those friends who don’t believe in you, and who make fun of your aspirations to become a writer.

  • “If any girl doesn’t like what you’re doing, ‘Out of your life!’”.
  • “If your friends make fun of you, “To hell with them. Out!’”

5. Live In the Library. Bradbury didn’t go to college, because he couldn’t afford to do so. However, he would go to the library religiously and read everything he could get his hands on; he indicates that he graduated from the library at the age of 28. Here’s what Bradbury has to say about libraries:

  •  “I spent three days a week for 10 years educating myself in the public library, and it’s better than college. People should educate themselves – you can get a complete education for no money. At the end of 10 years, I had read every book in the library and I’d written a thousand stories.”
  •  ”You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads.”

6. Write With Joy. Bradbury would often say that writing is not a serious business; it’s not work. Writing is a joy, a celebration … you should be having fun at it. Bradbury shares that he never worked a day in his life; the joy of writing propelled him from day to day, and from year to year. Here are two of his quotes which reflect that sentiment:

  • “Love is easy, and I love writing. You can’t resist love. You get an idea, someone says something, and you’re in love.”
  •  “Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.”

Three More Writing Tips From Ray Bradbury

In the 1963 documentary titled “Ray Bradbury: Story of a Writer“, Bradbury talks about his life and the creative process. (Watch the documentary while you’re having lunch, or when you have twenty-five minutes to spare. I think that you’ll enjoy it.) In the documentary, Bradbury shares several tips for writers, including the following three tips:

1. Know That It Takes a Long Time for Your Writing to Pay the Bills. It took Bradbury a long time to start making money from his writing. He says the following:

“The first year I made nothing, the second year I made nothing, the third year I made 10 dollars, the fourth year I made 40 dollars. I remember these. I got these indelibly stamped in there. The fifth year I made 80. The sixth year I made 200. The seventh year I made 800. Eighth year, 1,200. Ninth year, 2,000. Tenth year, 4,000. Eleventh year, 8,000 …

Just get a part-time job! Anything that’s halfway decent! An usher in a theater … unless you’re a mad man, you can’t make do in the art fields! You’ve gotta be inspired and mad and excited and love it more than anything else in the world! It has to be, ‘I gotta do it!’, and if you’re not that excited, you can’t win.”

2. Be a Pack Rat. Bradbury indicates that he’s kept everything that he’s ever cared about since childhood. He explains as follows:

“A writer’s past is the most important thing he has. Sometimes an object, a mask, a ticket stub, anything at all, helps me remember a whole experience, and out of that may come an idea for a story.”

3. Take Creativity Breaks. Bradbury urges writers to take breaks in order to allow ideas  to percolate in the subconscious. Here’s what he says: “The time we have alone, the time we have in walking, the time we have in riding a bicycle, is the most important time for a writer. Escaping from the typewriter is part of the creative process. You have to give the subconscious time to think. Real thinking always occurs at the subconscious level.”

If you are a writer, and you have a novel idea that you are excited about writing, write it. Don’t go on message boards and ask random Internet denizens whether or not something is allowed. … Who is the writer here? YOU ARE. Whose book is it? YOUR BOOK. There are no writing police. No one is going to arrest you if you write a teen vampire novel post Twilight. No one is going to send you off to a desert island to live a wretched life of worm eating and regret because your book includes things that could be seen as cliché.

If you have a book that you want to write, just write the damn thing. Don’t worry about selling it; that comes later. Instead, worry about making your book good. Worry about the best way to order your scenes to create maximum tension, worry about if your character’s actions are actually in character; worry about your grammar. DON’T worry about which of your stylistic choices some potential future editor will use to reject you, and for the love of My Little Ponies don’t worry about trends. Trying to catching a trend is like trying to catch a falling knife—dangerous, foolhardy, and often ending in tears, usually yours.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t pay attention to what’s getting published; keeping an eye on what’s going on in your market is part of being a smart and savvy writer. But remember that every book you see hitting the shelves today was sold over a year ago, maybe two. Even if you do hit a trend, there’s no guarantee the world won’t be totally different by the time that book comes out. The only certainty you have is your own enthusiasm and love for your work. …

If your YA urban fantasy features fairies, vampires, and selkies and you decide halfway through that the vampires are over-complicating the plot, that is an appropriate time to ax the bloodsuckers. If you decide to cut them because you’re worried there are too many vampire books out right now, then you are betraying yourself, your dreams, and your art.

If you’re like pretty much every other author in the world, you became a writer because you had stories you wanted to tell. Those are your stories, and no one can tell them better than you can. So write your stories, and then edit your stories until you have something you can be proud of. Write the stories that excite you, stories you can’t wait to share with the world because they’re just so amazing. If you want to write Murder She Wrote in space with anime-style mecha driven by cats, go for it. Nothing is off limits unless you do it badly.

And if you must obsess over something, obsess over stuff like tension and pacing and creating believable characters. You know, the shit that matters. There are no writing police. This is your story, no one else’s. Tell it like you want to.
Rachel Aaron (via relatedworlds)

Words to keep inside your pocket:

  • Quiescent - a quiet, soft-spoken soul.
  • Chimerical - merely imaginary; fanciful. 
  • Susurrus - a whispering or rustling sound. 
  • Raconteur - one who excels in story-telling. 
  • Clinquant - glittering; tinsel-like. 
  • Aubade - a song greeting the dawn. 
  • Ephemeral - lasting a very short time. 
  • Sempiternal - everlasting; eternal. 
  • Euphonious - pleasing; sweet in sound. 
  • Billet-doux - a love letter. 
  • Redamancy - act of loving in return.

Some Writing Prompt Generators