1. Wasp
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    Wasp Member

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    Multiple Storytellers

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Wasp, Apr 29, 2011.

    I've been thinking of writing a fantasy novel with 4 main characters, and each one tells part of the story through their own perspective. It will have 2 boys and 2 girls. Does this sound like an alright setup or would it be confusing? Also are there any books out there that have a similar narrative style? I will try reading them if I can find them.
     
  2. TheSpiderJoe
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    TheSpiderJoe Senior Member

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    I've heard of this style but not with 4 characters. One of the books I've read in the sci-fi genre titled "Soon I Will Be Invincible" follows two characters, a super villain and a superhero leading up to them crossing paths at various points of the story.

    It sounds like a good concept but from here on out you're going to need a lot of good execution to compliment the substance in your story.
     
  3. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    I have heard of this technique before, but I have not read many books that involve more than four main character protagonists before. In a movie, whenever you have more than one character protagonist, this is called story parallelism. When four main characters their own story lines to tell, and there is one villain, people can easily identify the theme of the story and it does not necessarily make the story confusing. I heard that this technique is extremely creative, and writers have been successful for doing this. You may keep in mind that in order to keep the readers from confusion, the separate storylines from each character must have a link to main idea of the story. I am not really an expert at telling you this, but I heard that it is important to tie the separate storylines together, especially by the end of the book.
     
  4. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is this really that rare? My story is told by five different main characters and I never thought of it since I didn't think that was something unusual. One book I can think of that does this is Dracula by Bram Stoker (if you're into vampires).
     
  5. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    Are these characters telling the story simultaneously (i.e., Alice, Bob, Charlie, and Dorothy all speak together to the reader at the same time), or is, say, each scene or chapter dedicated to one character or something like that? I'm assuming it's the latter, which has been done numerous times before. Unfortunately I can't think of any examples off the top of my head besides the classic movie Rashomon and the other movies it inspired, which, in case you don't know, is a story revolving around the possible murder of a samurai, and then four people afterwards each give their own perspective of what happened: the bandit who killed the guy, the guy's wife, some other guy (maybe a monk, I think) who witnessed the entire scene from the background, and the dead spirit of the samurai (I think). I don't think it's exactly what you're looking for, but it might help.

    Anyhow, when doing this kind of thing, I think it's important you clearly indicate when you're shifting from one character to another, even if that simply means titling a chapter with the character's name or something like that. It would be very jarring for readers if you switched between two very different personalities without explaining what it's all about.

    Ultimately, this is going to be a bit difficult to do - but not impossible, of course - because you have to juggle not just one MC, but four at a time.
     
  6. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Im doing something like that right now, basically there are 4 characters even though the story is mostly told from the perspective of two of them, the other two has a little less space even though they are still very important for the story. In the first draft I used three perspectives and they were all three equally 'important' (frequency-wise), but now I have reduced one of their parts and augmented the other. this because there was a significant change from the first draft and, what is this? fourth? draft, so I think I had to do that for the sake of the story, to improve it. I see no wrong in i, actually I hadn't even reflected upon it until now because I have read so many stories told by three or four perspective that I considered it normal, i guess.
     
  7. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    Well there is "The Canterbury Tales" which used 10 different short stories of the pilgrims. If you like reading old English. *Gag*

    Current books that I have read out side of College that had multiple points of view are the "Witch and Wizard" by James Patterson. Kind of young readers book. He uses the chapters to switch points of view. The chapters are simply titled with the name of the person speaking.

    There is also the "Eldest" (Inheritance, Book 2) by Christopher Paolini who writes the first few chapters from one brothers point of view then a bunch from the other and in the end merges them.

    Stephen King has done this in his "Under the Dome" which by the way I do not recommend. The ending is horrible and after a 1000 pages you really want more.

    Herman Melville was notorious for this. I personally think he did when he had writers block.

    There is a lot of books that constantly have switching points of views. They usually do it through sub-Books or the chapters.
     
  8. Laurel
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    Laurel New Member

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    An excellent example of this is the 'A song of Ice and Fire' books by George RR Martin. Each chapter is from a different characters view point, and the chapter names are simple titled with this characters name.

    He really does an amazingly good job of weaving these different viewpoints into a complex and fascinating story. I highly recommend you read this if you are thinking about writing this kind of thing. (Actually, everyone should read this, it's amazing!)

    The first one is called 'A Game Of Thrones'.

    Lx
     
  9. teacherayala
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    teacherayala Contributing Member

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    One of my favorite writers, Tracy Chevalier, does this in her book Falling Angels. It's really well done, and I enjoyed it immensely. I think it may have even used a couple of secondary voice as well, though. For fantasy, though, I think I would find this a bit confusing because fantasy characters tend to have difficult names and it's sometimes difficult for me to follow storylines in fantasy stories if there are too many characters.
     
  10. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sure, it can work. It all depends on the execution.

    Examine the reason for doing it. Is it the best way to relate the story to the reader? Would two characters work better, or three, or one?

    A novel I read not too long ago Spirals of Destiny: Rider (you can read a review here) that alternated between Kayleigh, a battle maiden in training and her unicorn mount Majherri. The POV alternates from chapter to chapter. It is a good example of multiple character POVs in the same events/timeline, if that's what you're shooting for.
     
  11. Charmichan
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    Charmichan Member

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    Amazing! I've been contemplating on posting the same question for days now, you beat me to it! I'm trying to do the same for my story but I find it very challenging to make each character sound different in writing (the language they use, the way they see the world). Probably its because I'm still a newbie but still.... sinking oneself into four different personalities (three in my case) and writing their POV down, pretty exciting but also exhausting. I'll most likely end up having a multi-personality disorder after I finish it.
     
  12. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    That is one of the things I love the most about what Im currently writing; the possibility to see the same events from multiple point of views and how its affecting them. I find it it really challenging not to mention stimulating to create individual characters who doesn't have the same voice all over (=my voice) but their own expressions and way of speaking. I like to try and 'hear' their voice in my head to get a better idea about how to write their pov's.
     

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