Thursday Thoughts: Changes in Point-of-View


My blog is getting a lot of hits this week, so I thought I’d bring this up while I have your attention! 😉 Also, I’ve been meaning to announce a new series of posts, Thursday Thoughts, as a home for my more opinionated posts and for my posts about writing. (I feel like I’m probably borrowing this title from another blog, but I don’t remember whose…)

Anyway, how do we feel about changes in point-of-view in books? How would you feel if most of the book is written in first-person but the epilogue is written in third-person? I’m asking because my current story is written in first, but I’m considering including an epilogue that focuses on another character in the book, only it’s on a different world, so Siobhan isn’t there. Since the short scene will be separated out as the “epilogue,” I feel like it might work, but I’d like to know what you (as a writer or reader) think. Have you ever seen anyone do this?

Another reason I want to include an epilogue is to leave a bit of a cliffhanger, which is a whole ‘nother point of discussion. I want there to be a sequel, but then again, I don’t want there to be too much of a cliffhanger. Not because I don’t want to leave readers hanging (I love doing that, lol), but because a potential publisher might be more willing to commit to one book than a series from a new author. So perhaps I should go for mostly wrapping the book up while leaving just a little teaser…

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12 Responses to Thursday Thoughts: Changes in Point-of-View

  1. A change in POV has been done before. The Handmaid’s Tale was written as a first-person narrative from Offred’s POV. The epilogue was written as a symposium of a group of scholars discussing what happened in the story. I thought it worked well.

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  2. Heidi says:

    I think it’d be fine as long as the pov change is within a new chapter (which the epilogue will be). My only concern is that you mentioned it was about another character in the book, which might be a bit awkward if your entire novel was based solely on Siobhan. It’s probably not a good idea to have a whole book about Siobhan and then in the epilogue talk all about Jane (fictional name) because I don’t think it would mesh well and would confuse the reader. Sequels come from readers having unanswered questions or wanting more. You don’t even really need an epilogue like that if you’ve stirred up some interest from the readers already about Jane’s past. If they read your first book and liked it and then see you wrote a second about Jane, they’ll be curious enough to read that too. Also a lot of readers hate unanswered questions or cliff hangers so if your epilogue is a tease of what’s to come don’t make it a huge one or it might anger some readers. I don’t know if that helps but that’s just my opinion. I’ve never written an epilogue so I don’t have much experience in that department.

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    • S. L. says:

      Thanks Heidi, and I agree with you – I wouldn’t want to leave the reader angry, maybe just interested enough from the “tease” at the end. Maybe after I’m finished posting the chapters I will post the epilogue to show everyone what I really mean, what I have in mind, and get people’s opinion then too.

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  3. Charleen says:

    I’ve read some books that switch between first-person and third-person throughout the entire book. It drives me nuts! It’s always at a chapter break, but still… why not stay in third-person for everyone? Much less confusing/annoying for the reader. But some of these have been best-sellers so clearly it doesn’t bother most people as much as it bothers me.

    That said, as someone who is typically annoyed by unnecessary switching between 1st and 3rd, I’d have absolutely no problem with the scenario you’re describing. Prologues and epilogues are meant to stand apart. As long as there’s a good reason for them to be there, changing POV wouldn’t bother me there in the slightest.

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  4. Tuan Ho says:

    You an never have ‘too much of a cliffhanger’.

    I’d say go for it. As long as the ending before it is quite good, then tease the heck out of them.

    I know when I read a book, the cliffhanger is what stays in my mind for years and years.

    I just remembered the last line of Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama and it really makes you want to read the sequel. And I’ll do just that! 🙂

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    • S. L. says:

      I have to say I am definitely a sucker for a good cliffhanger, even those at the end of every chapter because then I can’t stop reading. I do get frustrated when there’s a cliffhanger at the end of a good book, but it’s a great feeling -it makes me impatient for the sequel! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  5. I think you have to very careful about throwing a reader. BUT a good cliffhanger does no harm. having said that I wouldn’t agonize. I would write the book. All books need edits so and a publisher won’t make a decision based on the end alone.

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  6. I do the same. just keep on track.

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