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Multiple lead characters 3rd person

The novel I've been working on for more time than I care to confess has a fracturing family at its heart.
Its in third person narrative but the third person in question varies, so the lead voice shifts from chapter to chapter.

Its not an overlap of the same situation re-told by different people .. each has their own problems.
It would be like Jo in Little Women dealing with her love for the professor; the next two chapters might be Meg's story.
is this too hard for the reader - or - anyone know of a novel that follows that style?


  • I remember a Marian Keyes novel written like this and there have been thrillers too. Sorry can't name them off the top of my head.
    I don't think it's too hard for people - I suppose depending on how many characters - and I would expect there to be some overlap/linkage so that there is cohesion to the novel not just several completely separate stories. But otherwise, why not?
  • Third-person narration is very common and isn't a problem in its own right. More of an issue could be the distribution of perspectives between chapters. If the storylines aren't connected across perspectives/chapters, the novel could see fragmented.
  • edited April 2020
    I'm reading a book right now that changes the pov chapter by chapter. I'd say switching works best if you do it that way and don't get tempted to switch mid chapter.
    I'd go one further than Heather and say that I think you still have to have a protagonist even if you're telling the other characters' stories around him or her. I'd do that by opening the book in the protagonist's pov and making sure that the other characters' chapters all show a strong link with the protagonist. 

    p.s. next time I go upstairs I'll check the author and title of the book I'm reading (never read her before and can't remember her name offhand!)

  • Book in question is Whatever it Takes by Adele Parks.
    I've never read this author before and I won't be rushing to do so again. The book is pretty rubbish, but it does show how to change points of view in the third person, so you will find it helpful.
  • I have written books that switch pov between two groups. I think it works better, for me at least, if the timelines are continuous - ie. no backtracking.
  • I wonder if Jo Scott came back to read our replies?

  • Probably not!
  • I will never understand why someone would take the trouble to log in, start a new thread to ask a specific question and then not bother to return to read the replies.
  • Perhaps they just read but don't comment. Even worse in some ways.
  • Yes, well either way, it's a bit impolite. 
  • It is.
  • They may also have found the answer elsewhere and forgotten where they posted - or the password. i know because this has happened to me! 
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