How Many POVs?, CRAFT
QUESTION: How many point-of-view characters can I have? Must I have the bad guy?s point of view? If I don?t, how will the reader understand him?
The number of point-of-view characters (POV) depends on genre needs as well as the story you have to tell. If your choice of POVs isn't mandated by the market, category romance only allows two, for example, you use the number of POVs you need as long as you aren?t over-explaining the plot.
In STAR-CROSSED, I used six POVs because my story was so complex, and the novel was big enough at around 140,000 words to allow so many characters. One of the POVs was my villain.
I have also created complex suspense plots with only one or two POVs because the plot was so tightly connected that those POVs were enough. None of those had the antagonist's POV.
If the antagonist doesn't have a POV, the reader will still get a sense of the person because of what he does.
If this person's crimes are methodical, this gives the reader a bit of information about him. If he cuts off the victims' fingers with a surgical knife, the reader learns something else about him.
Meanwhile, the main characters are also discovering who or what this person is by following the clues of the crime or the situation.
By the time the bad guy is unveiled, the reader should have a very good sense of this character without a POV. At the moment of unveiling, the reader will usually be given the final pieces of this character's emotional puzzle.
Some writers have trouble creating the bad guys and their evil plotting because they are concentrating on the good guys and the plot needs of the novel.
I always suggest that these authors write a summary of the plot from the point of view of the bad guy starting with the reason for the crime and moving from that point to the final unveiling of the criminal.
The bad guy's choices and his story must be as logical for his personality as the plot choices and story of the main characters.