Changing Point of View Mid Scene: Yes or No?

Many books on the writing craft agree it’s best to stay with one point of view throughout a scene and this is what I strive for, but somehow I managed to find an exception that belies the rules.

In Camilla Lackberg’s (Swedish crime novelist) book The Ice Princess,  she changes point of view regularly within scenes.

The novel is engaging, with a strong story and interesting characters. And to be fair, if I hadn’t been working hard on writing from one POV I might not have noticed the switching.

Now I’m thinking it’s okay to change POV is the writer is skilled and can pull it off.

Any opinions out there or other examples of where this works?

Thanks for reading . . .

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11 thoughts on “Changing Point of View Mid Scene: Yes or No?

  1. I went to a play in Los Angekos , CA that was held in a large home. The audience meets the characters in the main foyer as they introdice themselves. As you listen to them you have to decide who you are following through out the play as they go through the house.. Then you leave the rooms as they do. Depending on who you follow gives you different prospectives of the story. The person I went to the play with took a different character and we had plenty to discuss at the end. The story ends the same for all the audience but with different information. This allows the audience to go to the play several times and still see things that are new. It also keeps the audience active. Having different prospectives in this case made the whoile experience exceptional

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  2. A skilled writer can break all the rules! I’m currently reading 419 by Will Ferguson (great read if you get the chance, it won the Giller last year) and when I read your post,I thought, Ferguson does that, switches POV within a scene. But I checked and he doesn’t. The novel is written from the omniscient POV so I get the sense of different characters’ POVs. Now I can’t even imagine what it would be like to follow a scene with multiple POVs. Lackberg must be a very good writer.

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    1. I’ll have to check out 419. It’s interesting that you thought he was changing POV and wasn’t. I guess omniscient can do that. I think I’ll stick to one POV per scene. It seems to keep me focussed on what I want the scene to do. Thanks for commenting. K.

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  3. I can’t think of an example where that happens … well, except in Harlequin romance books. They flip flop POV like nobody’s business. I don’t mind POV changes so long as they don’t really stick out. As in, if I notice the POV change and I have a hard time figuring out what POV we’re in now … that annoys me. But if I can follow it, no problemo, regardless of where the POV switch happens.

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    1. Michelle, you make a very important point. I guess if a reader is taken from the story because of a POV change or is confused then it was the wrong choice for a writer to make. Thanks for commenting.

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  4. I just finished reading ‘Bel Canto’ by Ann Patchett, and the point of view seemed to switch from character to character quite randomly. Now that I reconsider it, it might have started with omniscient … but later it moves into the characters’ points of view. Anyway, it was so well done that I don’t think the story could have been told any other way, because each character was so distinctly drawn and sympathetic. The only way to get inside all of their heads was to write from their points of view in rapid succession. (I loved this book, btw. 🙂 )

    I definitely think this can work if the writer is up to the challenge. Personally though, I like to burrow deep into one character’s point of view and stay there. I love to watch a character grow and change as the story events unfold.

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