Deciding to Write Dual POV

Hello! Hope you’re having a great month so far. We have all our decorations up, and I’ve already begun the holiday baking spree — first up: cranberry white chocolate scones!

Apart from baking, playing lots of Hyrule Warriors and wrapping gifts, I’ve been working on the latest revisions round for my latest WIP (which I’ll lovingly refer to as Adventure Book). This almost feels like drafting 2.0, though, because I’m writing quite a few brand new chapters.

Why? Because I’m switching Adventure Book to dual POV!

Dual POV essentially means that I have two main characters now, each with their own voices, goals, needs, and character arcs. They each have a major story to tell, and while I don’t quite switch off every chapter from one character to the other, it’s pretty close. My book is also written in first-person POV, so it’s incredibly important to give my characters distinct voices.

When I was first planning out Adventure Book, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write dual POV. I’ve never written dual POV before, though I’ve read a lot of books featuring multiple perspectives. I did a bit of research on it and spoke to several writer friends, but I decided to keep the first draft to only one perspective, the one I *knew* I wanted to write and felt the most comfortable with. I didn’t want to write the perspective of a character I didn’t understand yet — I didn’t feel like I had a clear vision for his arc or his goals.

By the midway point of my first draft, I knew I wanted to switch to dual POV. There was just so much about this other character that I wanted to explore, which I felt I could only do from his perspective. The idea of writing his voice became really exciting to me, but I decided to stay the course and finish the entire book’s first draft still in only one perspective.

You might be asking, “Why didn’t you switch to his voice while drafting if you knew you were going to write dual POV by that point?” Or, “Why didn’t you pause and go back to the beginning instead, adjust the chapters you’d written, then finish the draft with both perspectives?”

Fair questions! I knew I wanted to switch to dual POV, but it’s hard to just do that without a clear plan. I didn’t have his entire arc figured out yet, and I knew some of the chapters I’d written in one perspective would have to change, but I wasn’t sure which ones yet. So switching to his voice without having a clear plan felt like it might cause me more problems in the future.

As to the other question: pausing, adjusting my outline, adjusting what I’d written already and then finishing the rest of the book with both POVs was absolutely a viable option. But I opted not to because I was fast drafting: I wrote the entire full draft in 30 days, and I didn’t want to pause that momentum to go back and regroup. It’s possible this would’ve been the better move in the long run, but at this point, I made the choice I’m happy with.

Another big question: why do dual POV at all? What are the benefits? 

Ultimately, dual POV is great when you have more than one story to tell, and if each story can deepen the other. After my first draft was complete and I’d taken a short break, I started figuring out my second main character more thoughtfully. Did he really have enough of a story to tell on his own? A clear voice? A satisfying arc? Did he feel different from my other main character? Once I figured out that yes, I could make that happen in a way that was also satisfying for me as a writer, I started adjusting my outline for this revised version.

It’s also amazing seeing my original lead character through the lens of my second lead character’s perspective. She’s such a tough cookie, but my second lead can now comment on the moments where he sees her exterior crack. It’s different from having my lead character think to herself “I’m going to be tough but I’m not going to show it.” No, instead she’s doing her best to not let anyone see, but my second character can see through her act. It adds a whole new layer of nuance to her character, which I absolutely love!

I’m sure there’s a lot left for me to learn about dual POV, but so far, I’ve spent a lot of time making sure I can do my second character’s arc justice. So far, I’ve mostly written brand-new chapters for him, but I’ve also started rewriting some existing chapters to switch to his voice. That’s been really interesting too, because it’s not just switching to his POV. It’s re-framing the entire chapter through his lens, to the things he would personally pick up on, to how he’d react to what’s happening, and everything in between. 

So every time I come upon a chapter I’m going to rewrite in his voice, I make sure I’m really in his head for how he’d react, especially because he’s so, so different from my other main character. She’s like a lightning bolt; he’s like a calm sea. It’s a challenge, but such a fun one!

If you’re also doing dual POV or have questions about the process, please feel free to reach out!

Sending lots of candy,
Valerie

2 thoughts on “Deciding to Write Dual POV”

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