The End of Multiple Points of View
My gut response is to say, “If it doesn’t have multiple points of view, it isn’t really a novel.”
Then again, having several viewpoint characters does lead to technical problems. I’ve read Anna Karenina a lot of times, for example, and sometimes I get all the way through without wishing one of the Levin sections shorter, so that I can get on to the next Anna Karenina section — but other times I don’t. If even Tolstoy couldn’t entirely avoid the risk of having one character become more interesting to the reader than another, perhaps this problem is unsolvable?
Having worked on a lot of (unpublished) novels, I notice a trend in my own work toward fewer and fewer viewpoint characters per novel. Does this reflect a craven bowing to commercial pressure on my part? A tempting alternative is to view it as a sign of my own increasing psychological integration. When a novel has two viewpoint characters, these tend to reflect warring elements of the author’s psyche, but there’s something satisfying about forcing these conflicting elements into a single character… This is a topic I may return to.