How many cameras do you need on set? How many POV characters in a novel? What is the benefit of having two dozen characters a la George R.R. Martin vs. just one, a la Patrick Rothfus? How wide the angle of the lens, how broad the scope of the tale, should one strive for an epic or settle for quiet meditation?
I’ve never written a novel with more than two points of view. I tend to possess a character like Captain Howdy and then ride them all the way home to the conclusion. I tried writing a 3 POV novel entitled Mother Maiden Crone, and ended up chopping off the Crone section 20,000 words below the sea because it just wasn’t working. The result was 2 POV and a novel entitled THRONE. Which worked.
But now, ah, now, my next novel, my next challenge, a true desafio! How many, my friend, how much is enough? One novel or a series. One main location or several cities. A continent? A world? Do we start small and view the world through a limited eyeglass, or pull back and gaze upon its vastness with a view non parallel?
I could have the rebel priest. I could have the orc silverback. I could have the high caste noble. That’s 3. Do I need more? One for the people, one for the enslaved, and one to wear the crown. Each sympathetic if properly drawn. Each…
What if… hmm.
Gene Wolfe gets by just fine with one POV.
3 POV could easily become 6. The rebel priest and the slum lord, the orc silverback and the captain of the guard, the high caste noble and his Machiavellian other. 6 could become 18, 18 could become…
Do I want to write A GAME OF THRONES? Do I want to write THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN? Do I want to write PERDIDO STREET STATION? Why is it so hard to write a novel that is nothing but my own?