1. Jason Govender

    Jason Govender Member

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    Developing a character from somebody elses perspective

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Jason Govender, Nov 7, 2017.

    Greetings!
    In my current WIP, I have two main character. I might add another main character so the answer to this question will help out a lot when it comes to character development. I have realised that for my story to work, I am not able to write the perspective of one of the main characters. He is not the protagonist, but he is still an important character.

    My question is how do I write a novel from the perspective of the protagonist whilst also developing this other character? I'm finding it hard to convey his emotions and personality while looking at it from one person's eyes.
     
  2. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Read Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. We never get Atticus Finch's POV, only that of his daughter, Scout (a/k/a Jean Louise Finch).

    In order to do it right, it takes a very observant narrator, one whose emotional reactions are closely tied to the non-POV character's.
     
  3. making tracks

    making tracks Active Member

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    I think it will partly depend on what the relationship is between these two characters.

    If they are close friends, the protagonist will have a better understanding of the other's emotions and be privy to their thoughts. They're probably also more likely to see their actions in a favourable/forgiving light.

    If it is someone they are not close to they will have to work harder to understand them and if it is someone they actively dislike they are more likely to attribute negative reasons for their actions.

    I think you have to make it clear how the narrator feels about them so the audience can decide how much bias there is and get to their own understanding of the second character.
     
  4. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    I will have to put that on my go-to list of First-Person Peripheral Narrators :)
    • Dr. Watson (narrator) to Sherlock Holmes (protagonist)
    • Ishmael (narrator) to Ahab (protagonist)
    • Bagheera (narrator) to Mowgli (protagonist)
    • Nick Carraway (narrator) to Jay Gatsby (protagonist)
    Thanks!

    @Jason Govender Are you familiar with any of these first-person peripheral narrators?
     
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  5. Jason Govender

    Jason Govender Member

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    I am familiar with Watson, Carraway and Scout but I haven't read these stories extensively. I am doing a third person limited narrative, but I could probably stand to learn a lot from these stories.

    The characters are friends and work closely together. I worry that while I'm showing the thoughts of the protagonist and his opinions, it doesn't give the reader a chance to grow more attached to this second character. Would you say it's just me being too concerned or is there a stylistic approach to this?
     
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  6. big soft moose

    big soft moose All killer, no filler. Contributor Community Volunteer

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    The Long firm by Jake Arnott is told from five points of view , none of them is the protagonist gangster Harry Starks
     
  7. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    I was also going to mention To Kill a Mockingbird and Sherlock Holmes. Another one from both literature and the movies is The Green Mile where the death row supervisor (Paul Edgecombe) is the narrator, but the story is mostly about mentally challenged inmate John Coffey.
     
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  8. making tracks

    making tracks Active Member

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    I think as long as you can see how much the second character means to the protagonist, if you care about the protagonist you will care about their friend. You get the reader to see the reasons they are friends and what the protagonist likes about them.
     
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  9. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    You can flesh out the second character through his/her interactions with the first. Moreover, if you write in 3rd limited, and your second character has a significant enough place in the story, you can switch POVs (much harder to do cleanly in 1st). In my WIP, I have four POV characters, all in 3rd limited. Their thoughts are conveyed by way of internal dialogue. Not hard to do at all.

    One other recommendation. Elizabeth Kostova's The Swan Thieves has a focal character whose POV we never see. Instead, we get to know him through three different 1st person POVs. It's a good lesson in techniques to bring out the facets of a non-POV character (although he remains somewhat mysterious even to the end). It's also a lesson in how hard it can be to do multiple 1st person POVs. The "voices" of the three narrators are very similar - not good. In fact, that was the chief criticism of the novel when it came out. But still a good and instructive read.
     
  10. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    I'm surprised no one has mentioned As I lay dying. The main character is certainly Addie, who dies quite early in the story, and there are something like 15 narrators switching back and forth which provides an extremely unique view of the family.
     
  11. RaitR_Grl

    RaitR_Grl Member

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    I learned something quite early in my writing process: draw inspiration from real life.

    First, consider what you know about the people around you.
    Try considering what they might know about you, from their perspective.

    Then think about what you as the writer know about each of your MCs. You need to know them before you can figure out what they know about each other.
    Now try getting into your POV character's mind, personality, etc. and think about what he/she knows about the other MCs.
     

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