1. Brandon P.
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    Brandon P. Senior Member

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    Showing all sides of a collapsing empire

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Brandon P., Aug 10, 2012.

    I came up with the following idea after writing a vignette and doing some preliminary worldbuilding. Its overarching storyline involves a once powerful and tyrannical empire's disintegration and ultimate collapse at its former victims' hands. The original empire has already fissioned into three sub-empires (West, East, and South) after growing too big for its britches, and each of these smaller empires suffers from attacks from neighboring cultures. What I want to ask is how I go about relating these international conflicts in the form of a story or series of stories. My idea is to use multiple PoVs, some from the leaders of the major factions (in order to show the larger geopolitical forces at work) and some from commoners (in order to show what effect said larger forces have on the populations involved). Has something like this been done before? I'm not asking whether my idea is original, but rather whether there are any successful models I can study and dissect in order to better pull off my own story (or series of stories).

    My second concern is that using so many PoVs in a book would confuse readers. As much as I would like to show all sides of each major conflict, I don't want to give my readers too many character arcs to keep track of.
     
  2. Crystal Parney
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    Crystal Parney Member

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    I agree with you, you don't want to overload a reader with too many characters. I do like the idea of having more than a single pov though. Do you have subplots developed yet? When I think of a sectioned off empire I kind of think of Lord of the Rings, for some reason. I haven't read the books, but I have seen all the films. You could have a character who has family in a different region. Or a soldier from one reason falls in love with a girl from another area. Then of course you can have leaders interact with other leaders by having conflicts, ect.
     
  3. Brandon P.
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    Brandon P. Senior Member

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    To be honest, I worry that this project may be biting off more than I can chew, seeing that I'm not a very experienced writing. I have a few short stories under my belt, but never a completed novel, let alone anything of this scale. I really do like my world though.
     
  4. idle
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    idle Active Member

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    If you tell it as a series of stories (as you've mentioned as a possibility), it might be easier to manage and the different points of view (different one for each story) will feel natural.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Do the three sub-empires conflict with each other? I would think they might, since they felt the need to break apart from each other rather than simply overthrow a tyrranical regime, but you didn't say that. If so, then I would strongly recommend E. M. Forster's wonderful novel A Passage to India. The book, not the film. Forster brilliantly weaves together into a single narrative the POVs of English, Hindu and Muslim.

    Actually, I would recommend it anyway.
     
  6. Brandon P.
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    Brandon P. Senior Member

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    Actually one of the leaders has the ambition to re-unite the three sub-empires into one under his thumb. The general situation draws inspiration from how the Roman Empire split up into two, if it helps.
     
  7. tupbup
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    tupbup Member

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    Would having a PoV from each faction be possible? That would give your reader only three main arcs to keep track of which they should be able to manage. You could have a leader from one, a commoner from another and someone from another subsection of society from the third? Jodi Picoult is nothing like the type of writing you're aiming for but she has several points of view in her books and some only last a couple of chapters, its distracting at times but its not difficult to keep track of at all and eventually the PoVs do make sense. I think three would be easy enough to follow if that would give the scope you are looking for in your novel.
     
  8. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    If you feel it's too much to chew, then it's acceptable to cut your plot down or write a "prequel" that leads up to the bigger tome. I tried that myself, found it was too complicated for my abilities at the time, and went back to write a "prequel" Phoenix Rising..when to go back to the bigger tome and knew it was too far up the timeline..now we have Die Another Day (working title) rolling through now. 15k down already.

    There's nothing wrong with adjusting a project to fit what you feel are your limits. We do it all the time in life.
     
  9. Texan Gandhi
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    Texan Gandhi Member

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    I think explaining most things would take a lot of time, and to this, I actually say to NOT explain things.

    Let the reader wonder about the mysterious South Faction, that there is no POV in. Keep the grand geopolitical to one POV, let the reader wonder why the POV wont challenge the South, and garrisons can simply NOT be taken away from the southern border. Make those small details you can glean out of it juicy. A little treat here and there. Just keep in mind that you can have an entire culture make in your mind about the South, but to the reader its a big, blank cloud. It could be anything. Make the small bits of clarity something to keep reading for.

    This takes a lot of weight off of the writing load, and makes it easier. Just remember that you don't have to explain everything. On the opposite of that, DO NOT leave the reader clueless. It's a fine line.

    In refence to how many POV's you want, keep it spread out, and maybe even cover the same areas, but from different perspectives. Two POVs know the Anderson family, the rich guy knows them as a quiet family, but another POV knows how the Anderson family betrayed him/her and how coniving and angry they are.

    Another thing is to have different POVs hate and like the same things. Don't make everything black and white, like the Anderson family.
     

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