1. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    Multiple Main Characters - Viewpoint

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Thornesque, Aug 6, 2012.

    I'm writing a series with a friend in which, in the first book, there are 3 main characters that later split up and go into their own books. What we were wondering is what point of view would be the easiest to follow, considering that we would be going through the different characters, occasionally viewing one before moving to another.

    Along with that, the characters are in a setting where there is a large number of minor characters that are constantly being viewed and there are some details that are needed from them that they won't actually be saying to the MCs. (I don't know if my wording of that was understandable; if not, just let me know and I'll try to re-explain.)

    So yeah: just wondering what your opinions are on this. First or Third is the main question.
     
  2. MeFe
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    MeFe New Member

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    Third is IMO the easiest way, but of course not the most challenging.

    The problem with first person narration is that you'd have to create 3 different personalities to narrate the story with, so that the characters could be distinguished. Choosing one of them to narrate the story would also have the problem of concentrating too much on that character.

    But it also depends on what kind of story it is.
     
  3. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    Well, just choosing one character isn't an option for us. Each character is equally important and their individual thoughts are important to the story.

    From a writing standpoint, neither of us would have a problem with first or third person. We could do either. I was just wondering, from a reader's standpoint, would you guys find it easier to read multiple POVs in third or in first?
     
  4. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    THIRD THIRD THIRD.

    Combining first and third person, even with appropriate breaks, is jarring to a reader. First they're in the all seeing, all knowing position, then WHAMMO! Now they're limited. I'd stay third person all the way through.
     
  5. Blique
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    Blique New Member

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    I think it's not really a problem of what the reader finds easier, but of which would add more to your particular story. Look at the unique traits of both first person and second person and see if a particular one matches up with what you want to convey through your story. For example, if you want the story to have a deep focus on internal conflicts that connect emotionally with the readers, first person might do. If you want the story to have an old epic feel, third person might fit better.

    If you need any "research material", Baccano is very good with the switching viewpoints technique. It's a light read, and free online. The author uses both first person and third person as the viewpoints change, so you can compare and see which might best suit your story.
     
  6. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I completely disagree, Blique. I read at a very high level and found the book "Bitter Angels" jarring because it switched back and forth. This isn't about what the AUTHOR wants but what the READER wants and I can guarantee you that's going to be an issue with them. For some people, they'll put the book down, either on the shelf or their table, and never pick it up again. A consistent first, second or third throughout the book is easier for the reader to follow.
     
  7. Blique
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    Blique New Member

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    You completely misunderstood me. I did not say at any point that the OP should continually switch up viewpoints.

    I said that she should not pick a point of view solely based on which one readers prefer; rather, she should pick a point of view based on what kind of story she wants to write. I agree that keeping the readers in mind is a must, but the story is ultimately hers, and the narration is something she should decide with that in consideration.

    Also, I think a continually changing point of view can work, but it very much depends on how the rest of the story is written. The series I mentioned in my previous post is written like that, and I absolutely love it.
     
  8. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    Yeah, switching view points isn't an option for me, with the exception of the Prologue and Epilogue of every book, which are going to be in third person, regardless of what the rest of the book is in.

    I think the biggest problem that we're having right now is deciding whether or not the thoughts and emotions of the minor characters are important. Like I said: the setting that we have contains quite a few minor characters, so obviously they have an influence, but a couple of them have fairly major roles as far as moving the plot along. So if we went with third person, we'd be able to make that motion a little easier; maybe do a little less explaining and more showing, which in many cases would be good.

    Alternately, the internal conflicts that all three of the main characters are going through would be really nice to have to give a bit more background. There's quite a few flashbacks and dreams throughout the story that help give character background, and I think that the impact would be made all the greater if they were done from first person.

    So, right now, I'm left at the same point I was at. Either way would work; both have their benefits, both have their downfalls.
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Third person limited, switching viewpoint characters as need be. I think that you can get all the inner thoughts and conflicts that you want with this, and it would be far less jarring than repeatedly switching first person narrators.
     
  10. auntiebetty
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    auntiebetty Active Member

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    Is it possible for the book to have a chapter devoted to each character near the front so that the development of each character is done up front as narrative by the author, perhaps using some of the important quotes from the inside of the book to show how the character talks, thinks, etc.? That leaves the remainder of the book for them to interact and carry the story by way of your narrative and their dialogue. It's something I'm wrestling with myself. I've just about decided this should be my approach. I anticipate a Prologue announcing the setting and the main characters. Although I will describe the characters and their bios in their individual chapaters, I won't tell why they are important to the story or how they are going to interact with each other. Is this fair to the reader??? Does this sound like a crazy approach???
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sadly, I think that this is risky. People want to see things happening to your characters - until they do, they're probably not going to care about them.

    You can tell me for pages that Jane is a dedicated gardener, she plants a thousand tulip bulbs every fall and takes a week off to plant them, she has tanned skin and chapped hands, she has a nice little chat with the lady at the plant nursery, blah blah blah, and I won't be interested. If instead Jane walks out her front door to see a family of deer nipping off the very last of the tulip flowers, _that_ will make me feel for Jane. And I don't need the dedicated gardener thousand bulbs vacation blah blah blah - all I need is the sight of Jane's fury.

    Though you'll still have to somehow tie that tulip massacre to your main plot - if I detect that you only presented that scene as a way to introduce me to Jane, and for no other reason, you'll lose me again.
     
  12. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    Yeah, to be honest, auntie, I'm not really keen on that particular idea.

    In the end, I might end up having to write a couple of chapters from each pov before I can decide. I'm just that way.
     
  13. luna claire
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    luna claire Senior Member

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    I know that George R.R. Martin had chapters devoted to what his characters were going through at the time in his Game of Thrones series. I don't know if that helps. It was written in third person.
     

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