I find that the more I write, the more I appreciate this mechanic. While it is possible for a novel to be great written from a single point-of-view (Hunger Games, Ender’s Game), I prefer to use around three. Why?
Well, I like what three does. It allows for a trend to be set up and then defied. For example: apple, banana… tomato. When two entities belong and appear similar, the mind starts to expect the trend to continue, and so when it doesn’t it becomes more noteworthy. When presented with two things (or people, in the case of perspectives), the natural response is to draw contrast, to figure out how they’re different. But when there are three, the process doesn’t work—or rather, it becomes more complex. These two are similar, but one of the two is also a little similar to the third, and the differences between the third and first are too numerous to count… Or whatever the case may be.
So the relationships seem to become more complex. Also, it seems to be the critical mass for my writing style, in terms of keeping scenes interesting. With one character, I let myself get bogged down by the monotonous events, and with two that problem still lingers. But with three people to work with, my mind finds it more plausible that something fascinating can always be going on in someone’s life. It becomes easier to skip between, and find the scenes worth telling, while also moving the story along. Which was really my lesson from Torn: it is entirely possible to tell a good story in a boring manner. The story itself might be enough to draw interest, but when the third scene of physical therapy comes around… I was bored even writing it.
Oof, these opinion posts tend to end up looking like walls of text. Sorry about that. To summarize: pick the number of perspectives and characters that works for you, and go with it. As always, if you have any questions or responses, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to reply!