1. Joe King
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    Joe King Member

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    Something different

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Joe King, Nov 2, 2014.

    I'm not sure if anybody here has seen the UK television series skins? Surely someone would have, it's amazing. In this series, each episode follows a different main character, then usually the last episode everything comes together and it's a shared episode with them all. Well, with the current novel I'm working on I've taken a page out of the shows book. I write about one character for every three chapters or so, getting you to know that character mostly, while also slowly including others, introducing you to them, the surroundings, what's going on and what not. I was just wondering, do you guys think this is a good idea? Or would you as a reader get annoyed or frustrated by this? I personally find it easier to write as I can focus on one character at a time, furthering their story while still maintaining everything else that is going on. It's a simple way to build characters. This way, the reader can see what's going on directly through each characters eyes, see things from each of their point of view and get a better feel for them. Any thoughts on this? Please tell me if there would be any concerns about writing this way. Cheers
     
  2. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    Are you writing first or third, and if you are writing third, is it omnipotent or limited? I can understand how this would work with the medium of television, but as I reader, I can tell you, I hate it when authors switch perspectives. As a reader, it takes a little bit to get comfortable with a character's voice, and to then switch POVs and characters, readers will be hard pressed to finish the book.

    If you are planning on doing this frequently, you're going to run into major problems. Keeping parallelism is hard enough from one or two perspectives, but if you're going in on multiples, you had better be good at multitasking. It's not a format I would ever condone, but that is just my opinion.

    One major exception to this format is the RPG forum, but there, the voices of the characters are truly diverse being written by different people. In something like this, I can't help but wonder if it will be a chronic retelling of the same event with only minor variences in character voice.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2014
  3. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Like @Darkkin, I'm not fond of getting yanked in and out of characters' heads during a story, and there is always a period of adjustment whenever this happens. But using several POV characters, giving each of them a couple of chapters, is actually quite common in books. It needs a bit of skill so you're not just hopping all over the place, but it certainly can be done.

    Just work at making the transitions between characters as smooth as possible.

    The only real mistake you can make is not making ABSOLUTELY clear to the reader who the POV character is at any given moment. Whenever you change over, make it immediately clear who the new POV character is. If you're writing in third person, that shouldn't be too difficult to do. Just indicate their name in the first sentence, and you're on your way. If you are using multiple first persons, however, then probably chapter headings will be the best way to pull this off. Title each chapter with the character's name.
     
  4. Joe King
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    Joe King Member

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    Thanks for the feedback, guys. You pretty much hit the nail on the head, Darkkin. I wasn't sure how a reader would react going from character to character to character, but the way I've been trying to write it is so the jumps haven't been to frequent, giving enough time for the reader to get a feel for each character before moving on to the next. I'm writing in first person so I've actually done exactly what you said, jannert. I've been putting the characters name right up there with the chapter title, to avoid confusion. Do you feel third person would be better suited for this type of writing or should I go ahead and continue with first person? I originally chose first person thinking it would give a better feel for each character, making them unique and clearly different to the next. I thought that might have been a little more difficult doing through third person.

    Cheers for the feedback.
     
  5. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    I'll spare the rant of first person narrative, that is over on the first vs. third thread. All I'm going to say is:

    I...I...Captain.

    First person in a project like this could end up seeming like a case of Disassociative Identity Disorder, formly known as Multiple Personality Disorder.

    I can't stand first person narrative, but to each their own. :agreed:
     
  6. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I suggest you read Brett Easton Ellis' The Rules of Attraction. It's in 1st person and there're several PoVs. I can't remember how simultaneous exactly the PoVs were, but most likely there was some overlapping. Also, one chapter is entirely in French 'cause it's from a French character's PoV. He uses the character's name as the title of the chapter, so we know whose head we're in. George R R Martin used the same technique in The Song of Ice and Fire, and it makes it easier for the reader -- but it's not a must. He writes in 3rd person, so basically use whatever works for you, and learn the techniques for both methods to make it as effective as possible.

    But keep in mind you're writing a novel, not a TV show. It's easier to follow several PoVs with the latter. It is doable with the former, though, so my suggestion would be to read how others have done it and analyze why it works/doesn't work. I had zero trouble with e.g. the Rules of Attraction. No need to underestimate your readers either.

    Good luck!
     

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