ETJ Writes

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9 Tips for Nailing Multi POV

Hello, Friends!

An author must choose through which lens – and how many – a story will be told. Each has its benefits and its pitfalls. Some naturally lend themselves more to a certain type of story or genre, and while a story can be solely told from one character’s perspective, there are various aspects better explored through multiple lenses. (Plus, it’s really fun!)

Using dual or multi POV is an excellent way to create and build tension, as one character might reveal something to the readers that another character has no way of knowing, something that might lead to their downfall if they’re unable to read the warning signs in time.

Multi POV also allows readers (and the author, while writing) to take breaks from being stuck inside one character’s head the entire time. Some of my favourite parts of books or television episodes are the ones where we get to look at the main characters from an outside perspective, which in turn reveals even more about the characters, the world they live in, and the overall story than we knew before.

In books, in particular, authors can create cliffhangers that pull the reader along by ending a chapter with one character in peril, and then jumping to a different character for a little bit, heightening our desire to find out what has happened.

But dual or multi POV can also go wrong and end up becoming jarring and off-putting to readers when done incorrectly. With that in mind, here are 9 tips I’ve picked up both as a reader and a writer to help you write multi POV with confidence to create an irresistible reading experience.


  1. Limit POV Characters

My first tip – especially for newbie writers – is to limit the amount of characters telling the story.

Instead of giving everyone and their grandmother a chance to narrate the story, limit the perspectives to the protagonist, antagonist, and possibly a side character or two. Keeping track of a huge cast of named characters is difficult enough in single POV, but when you’re adding multiple voices into the mix, reducing the perspective to 2-5 main characters makes the story much easier for readers to follow and helps to reduce plot holes.

  1. Keep POVs Centered Around the Main Characters/Plot

As a reader, multiple perspectives lose me entirely when the POVs veer into side-quest territory. I do enjoy side quests when undertaken by the main character, but if secondary character no. 3 is off having their own adventures with secondary character no. 4, and nothing of their plot lines effect, or even in any way relate to the main character or overarching story being told, I greatly struggle to maintain interest in the book. I didn’t sign up to read about these random characters, and so I feel a bit cheated and like I’ve wasted my time on a plot line that went nowhere.

To combat this, make sure other perspectives connect to the protagonists, antagonists, or narrative at large.

For example, my scifi novel, Thorunn , is told mostly from Laine, Kenton, and Bo’s perspectives. However, when I do dip into the minds of other characters (there are at least six other POVs we get to experience) it’s always to reveal something about the two main characters, Kenton and Laine. Yes, we get to learn about these minor characters in a way that we couldn’t have from outside their perspective, but their narratives in the story are specifically related to the main plot and characters.

  1. Don’t Give Equal Weight to Everyone

Related to the previous idea, when using multiple that expands beyond the main characters, not everybody needs to tell the story for the same amount of time. Spending too much time with minor characters can lead to the problem mentioned above, where readers feel like their time is wasted by meaningless filler.

Now, some authors can get away with this. A notable example would be Kishimoto Masashi. Especially in the latter half the Naruto manga, whenever a new character is introduced, Kishimoto dives extensively into their backstory. But because these characters’ histories are so interesting, and are tied into the world-building so well, the fact that Kishimoto was essentially using these POVs as a way to stretch out the manga as long as possible can be forgiven, overlooked even, because they are so compelling.

This however, is the exception, not the norm. George R.R. Martin spent a lot of time on POVs that fundamentally went nowhere in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, and even though his books are critically acclaimed, many readers were left frustrated at the amount of unnecessary plot. Martin himself has admitted that he wrote himself into a corner with the almost excessive storylines that resulted from so many different perspectives. Unless you’re interested in spending years untangling story threads, it’s best to keep outside POVs simple, focused, and short.

Be careful, however, not to make your POVs too short. If pages which are spent following one character are randomly intercut with single paragraphs featuring another character’s perspective, or if you have constantly have short section after short section jumping between POVs, it’s liable to give the reader whiplash. (Long-running soap operas are particular offenders in this area.)

  1. Build Up to and Away From Multiple Characters

If the story absolutely demands to be told through a large cast, it can be extremely helpful to ease your way into it. Start with just a few characters and slowly add more perspectives as the story or series progresses. That way, readers have time to get to know and become attached to these characters (being introduced to them through already established POVs first), making them far more invested in following their individual stories.

Conversely, when the plot is on the edge of getting too bloated, it’s helpful to begin narrowing the story down, bringing characters back together – or killing them off – and thereby reducing the amount of POVs needed to tell the story, as happens in The Lord of the Rings.

  1. Give Your POV a Purpose

As I mentioned in the intro, dual or multi POVs are fantastic tools to offer insight beyond what the main character thinks and experiences. But additional POVs shouldn’t be there simply to reach a wordcount or extend a screenplay to the desired running time.

Rather, each perspective should offer a unique view of the story that helps to expand and enrich it. If you can skip certain POVs and not miss anything, it either shouldn’t be in the story, or it should be reworked to be more meaningful to the plot.

  1. Don’t Just Switch the Characters’ Names

This is a particularly irritating type of POV unfortunately common among romance stories. A story that features dual POV but the only difference between the perspectives is that the names have been switched is extremely boring. It’s also rather lazy writing. I’m not interested in reading the exact same story twice. Even if there are more substantial changes to the actual text, if the dialogue is carbon copy the same, as a reader, I’ll quickly lose interest.

The best stories I’ve read that retread the same ground in dual POV vary enough from each other that while it’s obviously an identical set of events from the other character’s perspective, the differences have me going back over the previous bits over and over again, comparing where they line up, and digging into the internal thoughts, feelings, and experiences of the characters. Done well, this can be some of the most fascinating storytelling. My favourite example of this in television is the Rashamon trope, where multiple characters, all starting from the same point, recount their version of a shared experience, with each character’s version wildly diverging from the others’.

  1. Avoid 1st Person

Tip no. 6 is to avoid first person when writing dual or multi POV. Some writers can make multi POV work fantastically in first person, but unless the characters have extremely distinct or strong inner voices, reading first person multi POV can often feel as if you’re experiencing the story through the same character, which completely defeats the purpose of including more than one perspective.

It’s not good if readers can’t tell the characters apart and have to constantly flip back to the chapter headings to remember who is speaking – especially if it’s a romance novel. Men and women think differently, so their POVs should read differently as well.

By writing in third person instead, the constant use of the characters’ names will easily remind the reader from whose perspective each section or chapter is being told.

  1. Give Each POV a Unique Voice

Related to number six, if your story demands to be written in first person, while labeling the chapters or sections does help, your characters must be distinct enough that readers can tell who is speaking regardless. Thorunn CoverPerhaps one character stutters a lot or is very snarky. One character could be extremely steam-of-consciousness, while another is guarded and spare with their thoughts.

This applies when writing third-person deep or limited as well. Again, this is something I utilised in ⚡Thorunn⚡ . Laine, Kenton, and Bo are all different people, with different life experiences. The prose I employed for Kenton is not the same as the words and sentence structures I used for Laine. During revisions I was constantly having to change sentences to better express how each character would articulate their thoughts.

  1. Experiment with Format

Last but not least, play around with how you incorporate dual or multi POV. There’s the tried and true method of devoting chapters to differing perspectives (which is nice for labeling purposes), but POV can certainly switch within chapters as well.

Try using different mediums to communicate an outside perspective. Diary entries, newspaper clippings and broadcasts, emails and letters, and historical writings are all great ways to include information that the main character might not have access to. Some novels (such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula) are written entirely in this epistolary manner – similar to the “found footage” horror films that have become popular in recent years.

Stylistically, many novels include this information in the form of an epigraph at the beginning or ending of each chapter.


There you have it, my 9 tips on nailing dual or multi POV from a reading writer. Feel free to share your favourite POV tips in the comments!

Happy Writing!
~ETJ

 

Book Events in the Time of Covid :)

Hello Friends!

As is the case for many of you, I suspect, this year didn’t go at all like what I had planned.

My second novel, Thorunn, was released in May, and while I’ve certainly enjoyed discussing the book online, I struggled to put together offline events, for a number of reasons. However, I refused to let all the hurdles in my way make things grind completely to a halt. I was blessed to be able to throw together a few book signing events – one a more private, impromptu event at a yard sale I co-hosted over the summer, and the other two at more prominent, public locations.

The first of these was at The Reader’s Café, a charming little bookshop-slash-cafe in downtown Historic Hanover. The cafe was once a church before being turned into the book haven it is today, and has lovely internal architecture. Since it was also International Talk Like a Pirate Day, of course I had to go in cosplay, debuting another new look by mix-and-matching pieces I had already made. It was really wonderful to connect with avid readers while supporting a small business, and I hope to return in the future with more books!

The second place I was able to visit to sign books was the captivating cave at Indian Echo Caverns. I didn’t actually make it to the caves this time, since it was so windy I was afraid my books would fly away if I stepped away to take a quick peek, but being on the grounds (under a lovely Greek-styled stone pavilion), seeing all the animals, and enjoying the sights and smells of the surrounding food trucks was wonderful in its own way. And of course, chatting with book fans was the highlight.

By now, I think it’s apparent that I rather enjoy cosplay, so again, I went dressed as a character, one I debuted on Thorunn’s launch day, Lachelle Michaels, who is a soldier appearing in the second half of the novel.

All in all, despite the many limitations this year has brought, I am so thankful I was still able to make the best of it, and I consider these events to be a success! Here’s to looking forward to 2021, and until then, happy reading!

~ETJ Writes

⚡️THORUNN⚡️ @ Indian Echo Caverns

Celebrating Hummelstown’s Shop Small Saturday


November 28, 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Indian Echo Caverns

Featuring free colouring sheets, word-search and crossword puzzles, and book signing/reading by young adult author Esther T. Jones


Saturday, November 28 is Hummelstown’s Shop Small Saturday, helping to promote and celebrate local businesses!

Esther T. Jones will be participating at Indian Echo Caverns, appearing in ⚡️THORUNN⚡️ themed cosplay, and answering all your book related questions.

It’s going to be a great time, so come on down, and check out the cave while you’re at it!

Signed copies of both of Jones’ novels will be available for purchase before and after the event.

Information regarding cave tours can be found at the Indian Echo Caverns Facebook page.

The Best-Kept Book Secret (Little Free Libraries)

Hello Friends!

Have y’all heard of Little Free Libraries?

They’re basically a take-a-book leave-a-book system dedicated to getting more books into the hands of readers. They’re also a FANTASTIC place to donate books you don’t want anymore. I was introduced to the idea in 2019 by @littlefreelibraryreads on Instagram, and since then have made it a mission to hunt down all the Little Free Libraries I can, leaving my novels, and bookmarks too!

A lot of public libraries were unable to open their doors for a substantial amount of time during the summer, which is a KEY time for children to develop their reading skills. Thankfully, given the outdoor positioning, and limited interaction nature of Little Free Libraries, many families were still able to obtain books for summer reading.

A lot of Little Free Library custodians were also amazing during this time, providing ample amounts of hand sanitizer and wipes, and making sure the libraries were stocked with fresh books.

If you want to find a Little Free Library in your area, simply plug your location into this map, and get ready to go on an adventure!

https://littlefreelibrary.org/ourmap

 

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Author Interview/Book Review – E.S. Barrison, “The Mist Keeper’s Apprentice”

Hello Friends!

Today I’m so excited to be sharing an exclusive interview with dark fantasy author E.S. Barrison, as well as my review of Barrison’s debut novel The Mist Keeper’s Apprentice.

I first stumbled across Barrison on Tumblr, during an event focused on character backstories, and almost instantly fell in love with Brent, one of her main characters. Since then, I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with this talented fellow author, and I’ve eagerly followed along on her journey to publication, looking excitedly forward to the day when I would be able to read her work in full.

Following is the interview, and then my review of the novel below that. (I will note that, as this is an adult fantasy book, there is rather a bit of language sprinkled throughout, as well as allusions to sensitive topics, so younger readers (teens) are advised to read with caution.)


The Mist Keeper's ApprenticeThe Mist Keeper’s Apprentice by E. S. Barrison
🌟🌟🌟🌟

I definitely enjoyed reading this book. It’s always exciting to follow along on a debut author’s journey, and I’ve eagerly soaked up the excerpts and illustrations Barrison has been generous enough to share as part of her pre-publication process.

Funnily enough, while I initially fell for Brent from the snippets posted on tumblr, when I actually started reading, I found I really connected with Rho. She’s quite intriguing, and has both an inner and outer strength that is perfectly tempered with her gentle and kind character. Rho was really the highlight of this novel for me, and she is a wonderful complement to Brent, who is determined to give up on himself from the very first chapter.

The prose was easy reading, which sucked me right into the world of the book, and I was never bored at any point. The novel moves along at quite a fast clip, allowing some down time here and there, but never lingering in any one place for too long, moving the reader along with the characters through each next adventure (some rather more bizarre than others!)

I did find the worldbuilding to be a bit confusing at first, but the more I read, the more was revealed, until I felt—for a time—that I also lived in Rosada, and understand this strange, and yet oddly familiar, world. There are a lot of characters and places, but the only ones I really struggled to remember were the Council—and I think that’s because of how sinister most of them seemed, blending together as a sort of faceless “bad.”

And speaking of the Council—while the Order were ostensibly the “villains” of the novel, lurking in the background, and pulling the shady strings of Brent and Rho’s lives, I found the Council—with their contradictory and obsfucatory ways—to be just as, if not more, unsettling. I felt terribly for Brent through much of the book, running from one bad situation headlong into another, all the while surrounded by people who professed a desire to help him, and never quite sure who to trust.

Brent’s powers were pretty cool, his abilities regarding stories something I think any storyteller can relate to, and the way the novel ended—wow! I’m highly intrigued about where his path will take him next.

Overall, I had quite the entertaining time reading this novel, and I think other fans of fantasy will have a wonderful lark indeed in this strange little world Barrison has created.


View all my goodreads reviews

So there you have it, my review of “The Mist Keeper’s Apprentice.” But don’t just take my word for it, pick up a copy for yourself, and be swept away by the mists of adventure!

You can find E.S. Barrison here:
headshot

 

And her debut novel can be purchased through Amazon (among other major online book retailers).

Happy Reading,
~ETJ

⚡THORUNN⚡ IS HERE!

Announcing Esther T. Jones’ Sophomore Novel:

⚡THORUNN⚡

I’m so thrilled and excited to announce that my second book (and debut Young Adult Science Fiction novel) Thorunn is now available both as a paperback and an eBook from Amazon, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble.

The novel can also be purchased directly from this website.


This thrilling story is set in the far future, with a shady government, a vibrant alien culture, and fantastically imaginative tech. ⚡Thorunn⚡ follows the stories of Kenton Wishings – whose entire family was brutally murdered – and Laine Riven – a rebellious teen spirited away to the mysterious planet by his at-wits-end parents. Their paths clash amidst tragedy and betrayal, and despite how hard they try, neither teen will escape unscathed.

Time is running out as frix season closes in, and their only shot at victory hinges on outrunning the seasoned bounty hunters, savage creatures, and unpredictably violent weather trying to kill them every step of the way. . .

“The world Jones produced is absolutely brilliant . . . from start to finish, I wanted to know more!”

– S.V. Filice, author of “The Summoning (Moral Bloodlines, #1).”

Enjoy following Kenton and Laine’s epic adventures, whether in print or digital media, and be sure to join the mailing list to receive updates about exciting new content, contests, giveaways, and more.

Bonus content in the form of a series of backstory vignettes focusing on Kenton’s best friend Bo can be found on Wattpad here: The Many Misadventures of Bo, and official ⚡Thorunn⚡ swag (mugs, cups, stickers, & T-shirts) is available to purchase via NEXT-GXN on Redbubble.

A special thanks goes out to the author’s wonderful brother, professional artist Don Jones, who was also the novel’s alpha reader, illustrator, and cover designer. (And what a stunning cover it is!)

Additionally, you’re personally invited to the ⚡️THORUNN⚡️ Virtual Book Launch Party taking place on Instagram Live & Twitter starting at 1:00 PM. Talk directly to moi, the author, and get a chance to win some of the swag mentioned above – don’t miss it!

Currently, I’m working on a few stand-alone novels as well as a multi-book series set in a distant and mysterious era, and I can hardly wait to share these next books with you all!

Keep up with me on instagram and twitter, and happy reading!

Esther T. Jones

Official ⚡️THORUNN⚡️ Spotify Playlist

Here it is, friends, the official ⚡️THORUNN⚡️ Spotify playlist, all 85 mins of it!

I listened to these songs quite a bit while drafting, revising, and putting the finishing touches on my novel, and it’s carefully curated (if listening from the desktop, or premium on the app) to give y’all the perfect ⚡️THORUNN⚡️ listening experience. A good bit of these songs could apply to either Laine or Kenton, (though some are specific to each – kudos to you if you can accurately guess which!) but some also center around other characters – both friend and foe – and around themes from the novel: family, loss, forgiveness, hope.

The playlist starts off rather melancholy (given what happens to Kenton’s family in the beginning of the book), and bounces back and forth between anger and grief – with some encouragement slipped in between here and there – before leading to a defiant, hopeful ending. I’ve included some relevant lyrics from each song and there’s a mix of styles and genres from a wide variety of artists, though it does trend in the alt/rock direction. Music from the 70’s all the way to recent years has made the list, and there’s even a South African song gracing this collection!

⚡️THORUNN⚡️ releases May 20, 2020, everywhere books are sold, and I would be utterly delighted if y’all gave this playlist a listen while reading. It’ll definitely enhance your experience, and give you a peek into my state of mind while writing.

See y’all at the virtual booklaunch party on my Insta Live, Wednesday, starting at 1:00 pm EST!


1. Fix You – Coldplay

2. Umama – Sjava  

English Translation:

3. O-oh Child – The Five Stairsteps

4. Wolves – Down Like Silver


5. Drifting – Adelitas Way

6. Gone Away –  Five Finger Death Punch

7. Nothing Makes Sense Anymore – Mike Shinoda

8. Faint – Linkin Park

9. Talking to the Moon – Bruno Mars

10. Still Here – Digital Daggers

11. Speak to Me – Amy Lee

12. Running From My Shadow – Mike Shinoda

13. Somewhere I Belong – Linkin Park

14. Waiting for the End – Linkin Park

15. Legends Never Die – League of Legends

16. Paint it, Black – Ciara

17. Robot Boy – Linkin Park

18. Dear Agony – Breaking Ben

19. Soldier – Fleurie

20. Gallows – Katie Garfield

21. Here I Am – Tommee Profitt

22. Love Hurts – Incubus

Can you tell I’m a Linkin Park fan?😉


Happy Reading!

~ETJ

THORUNN by Esther T Jones

THORUNN, a tale of trust, doing all in your power to look out for those you love, and trusting your sense of self above all else to do the right thing

THORUNN by Esther T Jones

Hello Friends!

Just popping in quickly to share this lovely ARC review for Thorunn. So excited for the rest of y’all to be able to get your hands on the novel in less than two weeks!

Until then, Happy Reading!

~ETJ

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