This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Most novels use one type of POV throughout, but you can mix them. This is often seen in dual narratives in which there are two (or more) distinct storylines, which are linked intermittently, or at the end, or only by theme.
Different types of POV are also popular in mysteries or thrillers. For example, when most of the book is written in close third person POV, following the detective, but there's a first person prologue from inside the mind of the killer.
Even when you are writing the whole story in close third POV, you still have to decide which characters to give a POV. Obviously, your main character will have one; they are our lead into the story and the person we follow and care about most, but how many others should you include?The thing to remember about giving a character a POV, is that it takes time and effort to do it well. Each time you introduce a POV, you have to ensure the reader bonds with that character, wants to spend time in their head. You want to be sure the trade off (the character's perspective, the additional information given) is worth it.
Introducing a new POV is, of course, distinct from simply introducing a new character. Here's a quick illustration. First, we're in Anne's POV (using third person):
Anne sat up in bed and wished her husband would hurry up and make a cup of tea. He was lying next to her, messing with his iPhone and oblivious to her raging thirst.
We're viewing Anne's husband through Anne's eyes. We will only ever see and hear what she experiences: his facial expressions, his actions and his words.
Let's say you want the reader to know how he feels. Assuming this is an important part of your story (everything in your finished story should be important), you might be tempted to switch to his POV. It is, after all, the most obvious way of giving the information:
Mark knew by the way Anne was impatiently flicking the pages of her magazine that she was irritated. Well, he wasn't going to get out the nice warm bed, she could get the tea herself. For once.
The narrative remains in close third person POV, but the POV character has switched from Anne to Mark. However, by jumping into Mark's head, you're forcing the reader out of the POV they've become accustomed to and have bonded with (Anne's). Unless you are going to use Mark's POV lots more throughout the novel and consider it to be vital to the story, you're asking your reader to make this switch for no reason.
While it's tempting to think that multiple POVs add depth (because you're able to explore more thoroughly what everybody in the story is thinking and feeling), it actually tends to make the story feel more distant. By being inside lots of different minds, you make it harder for the reader to connect to the characters (as they have so many to connect to).
In this illustration, you could easily show the way Mark is feeling through his external actions. Perhaps he sighs and, when finally making the tea, bangs the mugs on the counter. Perhaps Anne sighs and he ignores it and she asks him why he isn't making the tea and they argue …
Introducing new POV characters is, like any other decision in the writing process, something that you need to do mindfully and with consideration for the pros and cons of each choice. There's nothing wrong with using a multitude of different POVs, but you must be aware of the difficulties and have good reasons for doing so.