1. Shadow Dragon
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    Shadow Dragon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Timeline and pov question.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Shadow Dragon, Oct 3, 2008.

    Ok, since I have like four mcs in my novel, I want to show the story from all of their points of view. Which would be easy enough, if they were together through the majority of the novel. In the first novel of the series, they don't start working together until near the end. Also they are born near the beginning of the novel, and its ending is when they are in their early twenties.

    So I was thinking about doing it like this, in chapter A I would show a few years of Character A's life and then in chapter B I woud show charater B's life for a few years. So on and so forth until they meet up.

    Though I have a couple worries about doing this. One is that it might end up reading like four different stories put together. The other one is that like for example, chapter A and chapter B would be happening in the same time frame. They would both be showing the same five or so years of their respictive character's life. Now I wouldn't be really repeating the same stuff, since they're in different areas, but I'm worried about confusing the reader. Also I might have to include the time and date at the beginning of each chapter.

    So what do you guys think of this idea.
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Robert Silverberg's The Book of Skulls is set up in this manner. Four MC's, each chapter told from the POV of one of the MC's. It worked really well. Like so many things, it's all in the execution. In Silverberg's book, each change of POV and associated chapter change had a reason. It wasn't just, "Ok, I'm done talking with this guys brain, time for the next one." See?
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'd avoid stamping each chapter with a date, personally, although I have seen that on occasion. I'd prefer to synchronize mores subtly, for example by events observable by more than one character. It might be world events in a modern setting, or a major storm's arrival. Once the reader is aware that you replay the timeline from different perspective, the cues can be more subtle; a scuffle in a tavern heard in passing by one character, another character in an earlier or later chapter is involved in that fight, etc.

    In the novel I'm working on, the action is linear for each of the main characters, but chapters alternate between the distant past for an extremely long-lived character to a time in our future for other characters, until their lives intersect in that future. The context makes the time jumps very apparent without using dates - in fact, the earliest times aren't even reckoned in terms of any modern calendar. When the timelines converge, I will be using events to synchronize the characters. Besides, events are easier for the reader to keep track of than dates and times.
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Absolutely. And for the love of Sliced Bread, don't make me refer to a table or a chart of times, dates, names, or places. I see that in a book, the book goes back on the shelf at Borders, unpurchased.
     
  5. Shadow Dragon
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    Shadow Dragon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ha, believe me I know enough not to do that. :p
     
  6. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    I never thought about that. I too have a novel that has a few different MC's, although their's really only one primary MC that the stories plot is built around while the other MC's are directly connected.
     

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