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Juggling POVs...too many?

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So I'm 55k into my novel (looking like it'll be about 80k total) and am switching POV every chapter. My question is, how many POVs is too many? I have four who are what I'd call the 'main' characters but several others get a chapter or two when I need to show things that don't directly involve the MCs. Is there a point where switching POVs gets tiring for the reader? I know I enjoy getting multiple viewpoints when I'm reading a novel, but I'm not sure how others generally feel about this sort of thing.

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Sounds like a reasonable number to me. The surest test will be your Alpha Readers and what they think, but four M.C.s and a few additional characters every now and then is a pretty good balance.

However, if the four main character are set up on a strict rotation I would refrain from just throwing in new POVs willy nilly as this can make them feel super out of place. But I don't know the exact structure of your book so it's up to you.

Good luck with your book! Writing is hard and getting even this far isn't nothing.  

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There's no hard & fast rule that Ive ever found, just that it gets increasingly difficult to keep things coherent with each additional POV.   All I can do is share some methods Ive seen used:

First, any POV change is a little jarring as there is a voice and location change to deal with, so as a general statement fewer is better.  If there is a way to work events so that one of your POV characters is present for the event or is filled in on it after the fact (possibly with full flashback scene), it's worth considering.  

Past that, some of the smoother transitions are when you can have the same scene passed off from one of the POV characters to the new one; like when the PovC is doing something in a bar, and they switch to the bartender noticing him then (or maybe remembering him while cleaning up after closing and then we follow this new person as they go out into the ally and get assassinated or whatever.  Basically if you can bridge continuity with the scene and/or location it becomes less jarring when you change voice.  One of my favorite classic series, the Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay, did this fairly often when events were happening away from the main five MC's (all the proverbial "Yankees in King Arthur's Court).  

If there are no nearby POV characters, or it doesnt work for whatever other reason, as I reader I find it helpful it the 2nd-tier POV section of the text is entirely and obviously separated, rather than switching between POVs on the run within the chapter as you can get away with on your established mains.  This could be separated chapters like the Interludes like were used in the Stormlight Archive for secondary POV's.  I've also seen it done well where there are short, obviously segregated sections at the beginning of each chapter that gave you visibility outside the main POV.  I see that most often used in 1st Person POv's where there are fewer options, and offhand the most famous example I can think of is Ender's Game.  Though I think to use that you really have to make sure to include something with every chapter. One interesting thing Ender's Game did was for those POV-breaking sections to be entirely dialog with none of the participants named, so the readers had to work out the person from voice and context clues.  It gave the reader a glimpse behind the POV curtain of that particular story, but with the added game that the conversation's real significance could be hidden from the reader until later when they know to know who was speaking and what the context is.  

 

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