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  1. novemberjuliet

    novemberjuliet Member

    Feb 11, 2014
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    Seoul, Republic of Korea

    Dos and Don'ts of multiple perspectives?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by novemberjuliet, Jun 12, 2015.

    I'm writing what I'd describe as a modern military epic. It will span multiple continents cover many perspectives and could even cross genres a bit. I'm wondering if there is an effective way to do this without losing focus of the main plot while still making each perspective unique without distracting too much frm each other. If you guys know any examples of this in published works it would be appreciated.
  2. Lewdog

    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

    Dec 9, 2012
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    Williamsburg, KY
    There are all kinds of movies that do this with no problem. I don't see why you wouldn't be able to do it with a novel. In fact I'm sure it has been done in a novel all the time but I can't think of one right now myself.
  3. BrianIff

    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

    Apr 26, 2015
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    For anonymous narration, multiple POV:

    The Boarding House, James Joyce
    The Idiots, Joseph Conrad
    Fever Flower, Shirley Ann Grau
    The Suicides of Private Greaves, James Moffett

    They're all short stories so they might be free online.

    War and Peace, Vanity Fair, and Ship of Fools are also done in the same manner.

    From, Points of View: An Anthology of Short Stories, Mentor,1966.
    novemberjuliet and Lewdog like this.
  4. Marie Frebronze

    Marie Frebronze New Member

    Jun 11, 2015
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    One name: George R.R. Martin, author of the Song of Ice and Fire series.

    Granted, he kills off every single character he creates. It's a very good example of what you seem to be emulating.
    Spencer Rose likes this.
  5. sidtvicious

    sidtvicious Contributing Member Contributor

    Jun 6, 2009
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    Inferno, office 752. Take a right turn at the wat
    A question needs to be asked with regards to your overall goal. You say "war epic", this leads me to believe your goal to tell the sides of a major conflict from differing povs. So, is your object to provide a multifaceted playbook of each nations participants or a mere glimpse of the goings on in day-to-day life amidst a changing global theatre? Is this strictly from a military pov or also civilian?

    If it's the former I suggest analyzing different historical perspectives of a well known conflict examples can be: All Quiet on the Western Front (German perspective of wwi) vs. A Farewell to Arms (fictionalized American/Italian perspective)/ Human Smoke (sympathetic to axis ww2 history) vs. Rise and fall of the third Reich.

    If you're going for the latter I'd seek out more individualized and specified tales. O'Brien's The Things They Carried, Ellie Weises' Night and other in the moment pov could inspire.

    Just suggestions trying to determine what a contemporary "military epic" would look like. Books about war tend to need a strong emotional core, more so if you want to show multiple sides of the conflict, so that should play a key factor in your pov and style.
  6. Bryan Romer

    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 26, 2014
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    Red Storm Rising - Tom Clancy (Modern)
    Hammer's Slammers - David Drake (SF)
    The "Sharpe" series by Bernard Cornwell (Napoleonic War)
    sidtvicious likes this.
  7. Eliza Rain

    Eliza Rain Member

    Jun 19, 2015
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    London, or any of Edward Rutherford's books, sound perfect for you. He focuses on five family's or so starting at the pretty much the cavemen of England and goes all the to world war two. Each generation has different troubles, focuses and goals between every family and I think it might be a great example for you!
  8. The Mad Regent

    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

    May 26, 2015
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    Wirral, England
    I would say planning is key with anything of that size and complexity. You'd have to plan carefully how perspective A would influence perspective B, and the results and consequences associated with each action.

    Plan thoroughly, and once it's coherent, then start typing. :)
  9. drifter265

    drifter265 Banned

    Jan 29, 2013
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    There is no do's and don't's but if you ask a specific enough question there will be wrong answers and right answers. You have to experiment. Start writing out your story. Just start in three or five or whatever many different places you want and just start from the there, each having the same or a different message to tell. And hopefully, in the end, they'll come together. You might mess up, you might add too much or add too little in some places, but that's a job for analysis in the editing process not the drafting process. We all have questions about what to do with multiple perspectives in a story. What you have to ask yourself is why? What do you want to say? Why so many? These aren't questions I'm asking you. These are questions I want you to ask yourself.
  10. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
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    Massachusetts, USA
    My recommendation is to stick to one POV within a scene. It's not a firm rule, but few authors can switch viewpoints within a scene without leaving the reader stumbling to keep up.

    Frank Herbert was one of those authors who could do it successfully. His son Brian, trying to emulate his father's style, was not.

    Many authors only flip POVs on chapter boundaries.

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