Writing multiple point-of-view involves making choices. How many viewpoint characters should your novel have? I've read books that shift between a dozen or more characters. I chose to limit my narrators to five, the number I felt would produce the optimal suspense. I also wanted readers to engage with them all, so I introduced him or her early in story, made sure each one appeared regularly and gave each a story arc that peaked in the climax scene. My five narrators were an effort to juggle, but fun.
Do you start a new chapter or scene with each change of voice? My writing instructors taught me this was essential for reader understanding. In my reading, I find that when stories shift viewpoint mid-scene, I sometimes feel jerked in and out of characters' heads and confused by whose viewpoint I'm in. So while drafting my multiple viewpoint novel I started a new chapter with each point of view shift.
But last fall I read The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, a novel that shifts between about 20 characters, often mid-paragraph. I always knew who I was with and connected to them all, and now think this fluid style works when it's skilfully done. I'm not ready to try it in a novel, but might be some day.
My one problem with The Nest is that I wasn't clear on who was the story protagonist. Ensemble cast novels are rare, probably because most readers prefer a main character to engage with. In Two Catch a Fox, I gave Julie's point-of-view the most page space. She is present in the most scenes and all the other characters want something from her.
For novel structure, is it better to set up a fixed pattern of narrators, rather than have them randomly appear? With three POV characters, a chapter pattern might be A, B, C, A, B, C …, with A-the-protagonist's chapters longer than the others. In general, I think readers like to get comfortable with a pattern, so that the structure remains in the background and they can focus on content. For the same reason, I usually prefer chapters in a novel I'm reading to be roughly the same length, so I'm not jarred by an unexpectedly short or long one.
But with five POV characters I didn't consider an orderly pattern. Usually the story determined who would come next, but I sometimes brought a narrator in because we hadn't heard from him in awhile. While his scene contributed to the story, he didn't always have a lot to do or say at that point. As a result, my chapter lengths were all over the map until the last draft of To Catch a Fox. In my final revision, combining scenes into chapters helped even-out the chapter length, cut the number of chapters in half, and, I think, make it easier for the reader to get into the story.