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  1. Taste Of Ink

    Taste Of Ink New Member

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    POV/Character Development

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Taste Of Ink, Aug 15, 2019.

    Hey guys, first post here as I have a qestion I'm dying to know the answer to.

    I'm working on a story about a community, a strong sense of community being the theme. There are three characters I want to use for the main characters for various reasons, including a sense of community (more than one), and I'm having a hard time figuring out how to go about telling their backgrounds.

    In a first draft I wrote the first three chapters, each chapter from the point of view of each individual until their paths met, then I wrote from one charcter's point of view to keep from jumping back and forth as there was no longer a need to do so.

    There's really no need to tell this story from three different points of view, so I could tell it solely from the main protagonist's point of view.

    My question is, if I do that, how can I go about introducing large sections of the other two's back stories without changing to their point of view. It's important their backstory be told, but I'd like to keep it from a singular viewpoint.

    Thank you in advance. :)
     
  2. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Supporter Contributor

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    Approach it like this:
    In real life there are people you know whose backstories you know--best friend, parent, grandparent, co-worker...You know their backstories despite not being in their heads or inhabiting their bodies and looking out of their eyeballs. How did you learn their backstories?
     
  3. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with this approach. If they are members of a strong community, surely they will know each other's backgrounds (unless some members are deliberately keeping their past hidden.) How does your main POV character (the one you'd like to use to tell the rest of the story) know about the backgrounds of the others? Can you depict the background of the others through this character's eyes alone?

    That being said, it's also fine to tell the story from three different perspectives, if that makes it easier. It might—in that one character might be present during an event while the others are not. You CAN keep all three POV characters going, if you want.

    It does seem weird (to me) to start with three equal POVs, then drop two of them as POVs for the rest of the story, however. Your readers will probably be expecting the others to chime in, eventually. When they don't, the readers might feel that something isn't quite right.

    It's not a rule, but one storytelling convention is that a POV character who is introduced at the start of a story will have more to contribute from their POV later on. It's just one of those things that readers have come to expect.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
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  4. Taste Of Ink

    Taste Of Ink New Member

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    I wrote their back stories because they're three completely different walks of life that each influence their immediate family and community in their own way. I liked these three snapshots of human experience and wanted to use them each to illustrate three different points/perspectives about human relationships.

    The main protagonist wouldn't know their backgrounds entirely. Like the person al details. He knows of them from mutial acquaintances.

    For example. He knows a nurse who is the mother of main character number 2. But when I'm writing about character number 2 I want to include back story from out of town that character number 1 would have no way of knowing.


    And character number 1 is witness to am event that character number 2 is not because she's away from home.
     
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  5. hyacinthe

    hyacinthe Member

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    I think you should approach telling backstories with caution. they're so often a detriment to the story.
     
  6. Taste Of Ink

    Taste Of Ink New Member

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    Interesting. Why do you feel they're a detriment?

    Perhaps I'm misusing the term backstory. Forgive me, I'm very new to all of this.

    To explain; two of the main characters are in town at the time of a significant event that affects them independently at first and unique to their lives. It later brings them together.

    The other main character is out of town with friends. There's an event that takes place with her friends that will show the reader her character and determine how she responds to the incident back home and grows as a result. It also connects her to the other two main characters.

    So, it happens within the time line of the story. Not before.
     
  7. traceyphillips

    traceyphillips New Member

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    Completely agree! I'd say focus on the story too!
    Life's the story's what happens when you're busy making plans writing about characters backstory.
     
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  8. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well, the best way to handle this is to finish writing the story. And see what works and what doesn't. Write it the way you want to tell it. And see where that goes.

    Sometimes planning too much ahead of time can hamstring you as a writer. Sounds like you've got enough to go on already.

    I believe fiction comes in two parts. Part One is what the author intends. Part Two is what the reader picks up. Ideally, as a writer, you want them to match! You won't know if they do until you write the story and test it out on a few readers.
     
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  9. v_k

    v_k Member

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    May be you did not attach yourself to MC well enough. Other characters are secondary. The 3 main characters in single story is impossible format. Make it one story of one MC from his point of view all the way.
     
  10. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    You could have the nurse tell your MC a story about her daughter to fit in her backstory. Something like that where the MC learns the history of another character secondhand. That's something that might work. But if it's really not fitting in, are you sure it needs to be there?

    I have no problems with backstories or flashbacks in fiction. They just have to be done well. A slow reveal of a backstory can add tension. Try to avoid just plopping it in because you think it's something the reader needs to know. Make it part of the story even if it doesn't take place in the present narrative.
     
  11. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Having multiple main characters is far from impossible. Read more because this stuff is out there. Also, maybe is one word.
     
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  12. v_k

    v_k Member

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    Right. Maybe
     
  13. Taste Of Ink

    Taste Of Ink New Member

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    So this is what I'm wrestling with.

    A loose example of what I'm working on; Ken is spending the evening fishing at a lake outside of town. When he returns home he finds the town's residents have come down with an illness and he is unaffected.

    Jenn is away at college out of state. She is attacked by a male student whom she trusted and days later decides to go home for Thanksgiving rather than spend it alone. When she arrives home she finds her parents and everyone else ill. When out running errands she meets Ken who also isn't ill. We find out Ken and Jenn's mother know each other.

    Meanwhile Charlie and his wife are expecting their first born. The baby and Charlie's wife become ill but Charlie does not.

    Charlie eventually crosses paths with Ken and Jenn and discover their shared acquaintance. A connection within the community.

    How can I reveal Jenn's negative experience at school, as well as Charlie's experience with new fatherhood through the eyes of Ken who would not yet know these things about their lives?

    Edit: I suppose I could have Jenn reveal to Ken what happened to her once she trusts him and they've established a relationship.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2019
  14. Taste Of Ink

    Taste Of Ink New Member

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    Edit
     
  15. Taste Of Ink

    Taste Of Ink New Member

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    I understand what you're saying and I appreciate the input.

    I'm not sure I would agree it's an impossible feat though. The Stand by Stephen King comes to mind. It was pulled off extremely well in that book.
     
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  16. LoaDyron

    LoaDyron Senior Member

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    Hello friend. :superhello:

    I will advise you to write in their conversation, not as an exposition but more like a flashback or memory. And to trigger this, put the characters in a difficult situation for them to make harsh decisions. If the two characters are conected, you write that part by making them remembering something they have done. Another possible way is for example if they are in a cafe drinking coffee, why not you create an atmosphere that can make them remember a good or bad time (depends of their backstories), show us that time.

    I hope this helps. Keep on good work and have fun. :superagree:
     
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