All About POV Sequels

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How are you all doin’? No seriously. How are you? That question carries a lot more weight during these days of COVID-19. Isolation has become my new normal, and I wish I could say I’ve taken advantage of the circumstances to focus more on my creativity. To be honest, I spent the first few weeks of quarantine without reading, without listening to my favorite podcasts, and only minimally writing. I thought Camp NaNoWriMo would spur me to action, but I wrote less than 3,000 words last month.

Ugh. But I feel myself coming out of the funk, albeit slowly.

For me, this year started off not-so-great even before we were facing a pandemic. I know, lame excuse for going so long without a new blog post!

It’s certainly been awhile, readers. Where’d we leave off? Ahh, yes: POV Sequels.

POV? Sequels?—No, it’s POV Sequels!

What is a POV (Point Of View) sequel? A POV sequel is an additional book in a series that tells the story from a different character’s point of view. Generally, this type of sequel does not move the story further along. Instead, it’s meant to add additional depth by re-examining the same events through the lens of another character.

Some well-known examples of POV sequels within the romance genre include the fourth and fifth books released in the 50 Shades of Grey Series by E.L. James—Grey and Darker—and the unpublished/incomplete (though not for long) fifth book in the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer—Midnight Sun. (For some fun writerly drama, read up on the few-years-ago drama that is Stephenie Meyer vs. E.L. James.)

If you’ll recall, my sudden interest in POV sequels stems from the idea I had related to my current work-in-progress. My current WIP is a historical romance novel told solely in 3rd person POV from the female main character’s perspective. In my mind, this particular POV/voice is what fits the story best for a variety of reasons. However, I also love the male main character I’m writing, and I think he deserves his story told too. So, I thought, what better way to accomplish my goals than to keep my WIP as is and write a follow-up novel from my MMC’s POV?

But is the POV sequel actually a common thing in the romance genre? Could I find any examples beyond the two I mentioned earlier? Well…no. That’s not to say they’re not out there and I’m just not finding them. The romance genre is HUGE, after all! It’s impossible to navigate all the books published, especially when, fostered by the accessibility of self-publishing, that number continues to grow every day.

I think it’s safe to say, though, if I’m not readily finding other examples, the POV sequel is not overly common in the romance genre. At least not yet! Maybe the publication of Midnight Sun will dawn (see what I did there?) another trend of angsty teenage vampires…and POV sequels!

Maybe the reason the POV sequel isn’t as common as I thought is because it’s currently very common for romance novels to be written in 3rd or even 1st person from the perspective of each of the main characters in the romantic arc (e.g. the female and male main characters—often called ‘dual POV’).

In Hate to Want You, the first book in Alisha Rai’s Forbidden Hearts series, you read parts of the story from Livvy’s perspective and other parts from Nicholas’s perspective. Often times this separation is handled in alternating chapters, like in Hate to Want You, but not always. Another example is The Guy on the Right by Kate Stewart. The story is told by the two MCs, Theo and Laney, but this time in 1st person POV. These are just two of many, many more examples within the romance genre of dual POV handled in the same novel.

Though I couldn’t find many examples of the POV sequel in the romance genre, I did find additional examples elsewhere. Select scenes of certain episodes of Lost—one of the best TV shows of all time (in my humble opinion)—present a story line from multiple character perspectives. In the written world of science fiction, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Shadow is a retelling of Ender’s Game from another character’s perspective.

My impression of the POV sequel is that it can work, and it can be a hit with readers when it incorporates a few essential components.

  1. It’s written for a purpose. – A POV sequel shouldn’t be written just to sell another book or because the author wants to push out another book in a series without putting a lot of effort into a new story. It should be written for a specific purpose. If you’re considering writing a POV sequel to your novel, I encourage you to think about why you’re choosing to do so. Then, consider if there is an alternate and better way to accomplish your goal. If not, then maybe the POV sequel really is the right move for your story.
  2. Your new POV is a worthy one. — You want to choose a strong, complex character to outfit your new novel. Why would a reader bother to pick up a sequel that is not moving the story along? Because they were intrigued by that character from the last novel, and they want to know what the hell said character was thinking when that thing happened!
  3. It has the element of surprise. – Hopefully your POV sequel will not just rehash every single thing that happened in the previous novel. Borrrrring. Instead, it will hopefully provide extra depth to that same old story line—granting your new MC a more defined backstory and introducing new subplots to keep it interesting and real for the reader.

Listen, if you’re totally lost, just know that POV sequels are a new concept for me too. I’m sure I’ve missed some great examples of POV sequels in literature, and I’ve probably left out some essential elements to crafting a stellar POV sequel. So help me out, and let me know what I’m missing and what you think about POV sequels in the comments!

It’s good to be back.

-AW

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