I have been working closely with one of my writing buddies on a developmental edit of her fantasy epic. It’s totally unlike the stories I write, both in genre and style. I tend toward a cozy cast of a few characters and fairly structured POV changes. She has a large, diverse cast and moves through POVs as needed for the story.
In my reading, I have truly realized, and am now pointing out to her, how important POV character choice is in any scene. (Without giving anything away) Her story follows a magical traveler on a journey, when she has just picked up a companion. For much of the beginning, that companion is our POV character, and this is perfect! He doesn’t know much about her or her world, so it is easy for him to be the reader’s door into it. We learn as he does, and it’s wonderful.
Later in the story, we get more scenes from other characters’ POVs, especially as the action gets more focused on the larger group—this is necessary. Our original character doesn’t have a lot to lose in some of these scenes and therefore the tension is not his to share with the reader. As we near the climax of the story, I’m finding more scenes stuck back in his POV. I love him as a character, but those scenes consequently feel distant as he mostly observes what is going on. Now I am flagging her MS up like a Christmas tree asking for POV changes so the reader can feel the tension of those most affected by the events in the scene.
This is the big takeaway here: you are the author, and your world is yours, but the goal of writing is to share it with others, and to do that we need the best portal for that—the best character to relate what is happening, what they are feeling and doing to lead the reader into the action, the emotion, and the world overall.
While this is a benefit of fantasy, the acceptance of more varied POV than some other genres, it is something we can all do in all our writing. Understand which characters have the most to gain (or lose) in a scene and frame it around them. If you can’t use their POV, choose your POV character that is closest to them, the one who knows what they are thinking and feeling, even when they are trying to hide it.
It’s also an excellent exercise to write scenes in other characters’ POVs, even if you don’t keep it (or even ever mean for it to be) in the finished book. You can even use these scenes later as bonus material for readers.