1. musicgirl87
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    musicgirl87 Member

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    Multiple mcs and plot points

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by musicgirl87, Aug 22, 2015.

    Hello!


    After clarifying who my main characters are (I went from four POV to two), and considering them equally important for the story, I wonder what to do in the 5 main plot points, specially for the midpoint.


    I've tried to match the arcs of the 2 characters (and even the other two important characters with no POV) with the 5 main plot points, but since both characters do important stuff around each point, I'm not sure who's chapter should actually be the POV to call midpoint, and if I choose one, then the midpoint arc for the other character has to happen right after or soon the plot's midpoint, which defuses how important it is?


    I'm a making any sense? How do you deal with two MCs or more fighting for the main focus? Is it ok if the arc of one of them takes precedence in a plot point and in the next the other one is the focus?


    I know it depends on the plot's need, so I know who should actually have the other plot points, it's the female MC, but the male character has the stronger event to serve as a midpoint. By the way, if the female's POV gets 4/5 out of the plot points and the male just 1, are they really equals?


    I'm sorry I keep resorting to you kind people to clear my mind. I over-think things too much, plus I've read so much and diverse books and articles about the theory of fiction writing (each empathizing their own preferred method or theory), that sometimes it makes things more confusing that clear, since they don't always work well together.


    Thank you for reading.
     
  2. rainy_summerday
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    rainy_summerday Active Member

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    I know that people tell you over and over again that you should stick to one POV, at most you should have two POVs. But some ideas require to deviate from that. Take The Freedom Writers Diary, which is a collection of several POVs, because there are different stories put together but intertwined.
    If you feel like you need to change the POV mid-scene, then by all means. Either you mess it up or it's something that the reader will remember as one of the great moments of the novel. Deviation is always risky, but if you pull it off, it will stick with the reader. Because it is something different.
    I would not worry about the "can I/is it possible" but rather about the "how."

    About the POV and equality part... actually, the POV does not determine the protagonist of a story. Are you familiar with Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby? This is actually an I-As-Witness first person narrator. The narrator may identify as one of the story's characters, but he is only the witness of the events. His own part in the story is much smaller.

    I know, this post is not that helpful. It basically sums up to "Do what you want, either it will be good or bad." But hopefully it also can give you some reassurance.
     
  3. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I wrote the first draft of my book under one POV. I quickly realised it was a better story, and more interesting, told from two POVs. I think whoever tells each particular part best should tell it.
     
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  4. musicgirl87
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    musicgirl87 Member

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    This is why I hate how much I over-think stuff, it makes me forget basic stuff! You're both right, plus I was reminded of it in another thread of mine, the protagonist doesn't always have the POV. For me it means it doesn't matter which of the POV characters get the plot points, let the plot decide.

    How do you plan your main characters arc if you plan it at all? Do you try to tie it to the main plot points too? If so how do you do it with more than one character, since each would have to go trough their development around the same time, with shockers at the end, possibly one chapter after the other, which I'm not sure it'd work (with my skills, of course GRRM can make it work).

    Do you instead let some characters have their arc happen out of sync with the plot points?
     
  5. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I'm not quite sure what you mean, probably because I generally go character-driven rather than plot-driven. Can you give an example?

    One thing I would say is that it's more interesting to reveal each character's arc through another character's eyes.
     
  6. rainy_summerday
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    rainy_summerday Active Member

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    I fear my style is very similar to Tenderiser's. I also prefer to write character-driven stories. I am not sure if our "answers" can actually help you with this question.
    In my case, I tend towards man vs. himself set-ups. The plot evolves around that MC, and even the sub-plots will always link back to him. Other characters may get the spotlight from time to time, but it is the interaction with the MC that allows me to explore the other characters' backgrounds. I think this is what Tenderiser means with "revealing each character's arc through another character's eyes."
     
  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I've been re-reading the excellent how-to book by award-winning novelist Steven James, entitled Story Trumps Structure.

    Here's a wee quote from it that I encountered this morning. It certainly makes sense to me. I think people can sometimes get so engrossed in plot-pointing, etc, that they lose sight of what they're actually doing.

    Steven James says:

    "Don't get sidetracked by this game of identifying every specific 'inciting incident' or 'plot point.' Instead, focus on how you can tell this story best. You're not here to dissect it, you're here to breathe life into it."

    In other words, do what your story needs you to do. If you need several POV characters to tell the story best, then create them. The only real creative writing 'rule' a writer needs to pay attention to is "Always do what works best." When in doubt, test your multiple POV characters on a few openminded beta readers (once your story is either finished or well along) and see what they think. If you've created too many POV characters or the transitions between them are either confusing or annoying, your readers will tell you. If nobody mentions the subject, then you're probably fine.
     
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  8. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    I come at this issue from a different perspective. I'll stick with Steven James - do what works for the book. And I'll add one extra cavaet - one point of view per chapter. One of the problems I see a lot these days is writers wanting to switch POV mid chapter and sometimes mid paragraph and it turns into a head hopping nightmare. So if you're a plotter - I'm most definitely not - work out what the chapter's about, decide who you POV character is, and run with it from beginning to end.

    Now there are two more important rules I think I should add. The first is be fair to your character. Give them an arc, big or small. This is one of the things that trips me up from time to time. I periodically write a characer specifically for a chapter and a point of view. Often they are an outside perspective. But because they aren't main characters I don't return to them. My editor will pick these up and say something to me like "whatever happened to so and so?" And I'll say something like "but s/he isn't really part of the story". The problem is that they'd become part of it whether I intended it or not.

    Second is the number of point of view characters. There is no actual number for how many is too many and how many is too few. You have to go with what works for the story. Personally I would say the one is often boring, but really gives you an intense head space with the character. And more than four or five is likely to be confusing and jarring.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  9. musicgirl87
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    musicgirl87 Member

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    Thank you all for sharing your thoughts.

    Now I'm just confused about if my story is plot or character driven, since I thought it was the later. But fear not, I'll try to solve this one myself.
     
  10. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    If you're trying to make your character's arcs work around the plot, I would say it's plot-driven. Of course, all stories are a mixture of both, but they lean more towards either external conflict (plot) or internal (character).
     
  11. musicgirl87
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    musicgirl87 Member

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    Well, I'm confused because I have a war plot that is hardly directly experienced first hand by the protagonists, but does structure the arcs for the characters, so I consider the characters stories the main plot. The war is the heard but not seen background to the story.
     
  12. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    It's possible that your story is a balance of plot- and character-driven (my favourite: where they're integrated and feed off each other). Do you need to label your story as one thing in particular? Can't it just be what it is?

    I echo @jannert 's sentiments: don't get bogged down in the theory and lose sight of the goal. Creative writing is an art, not a science. These frameworks of 'character arcs' and 'main plots' and whatnot only exist as an aid. If you're getting confused by them, they're not doing their job, so take a step back and let your intuition take over. Simplify the questions you're asking until you can answer them without a framework.

    Instead of 'How can I make the turning point of POV character #1's development arc slot into the climax of the main plot?' ask 'Why would Alice care about the outcome of the war?' (or whatever). If you're unable to find an intuitive answer, that's when you might look for a framework that works for the problem you've encountered. There are plenty of them out there, and to borrow a medical adage, if multiple treatments are available then none of them are perfect. Think of frameworks as troubleshooters rather than recipes.

    Write in a way that works for you, and judge your story on whether you think it's good, not whether it ticks boxes on some list that only exists because somebody somewhere had an opinion at some point.

    Of course, this in itself is a framework... hmm...
     
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  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    That's the process I meant. Well said.
     

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