Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Vacuum Eater, Oct 7, 2010.
I don't mind, as long as it has the main character of the first book in every book as a secondary or minor main character.
Currently writing my second book in a series with a different narrator to the first. Mine is first person as well. It is incredibly fun to write but the second book has set up a whole new set of challenges - having to get to know the characters from a different perspective has been difficult. I thought I knew my characters so the second book would be easier but then realised it was Angus my seventeen year old narrator of the first book that knew them.
My thirty year old, older brother doesn't interact with them the same way. My younger brother changes in personality because I am watching him rather than being in his head. Another character is colleague rather than mentor. And a big brother type character is now the lover.
I now am getting into my stride but it has taken a lot of work to get to this stage. If I had kept the same narrator the story wouldn't be as good but would have been a lot easier to write.
Each book stands alone. Each book can reflect different choices by the author in terms of POV, chapter lengths, mood - all the author decisions.
Consider Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow. Both tell essentially the same events, but because the POV's differ, they are different stories.
Really, though, why are you worried about a series at this point? Do you even have one book in that setting completed?
Allen Drury did this with the "Advise and Consent" series. The overall group of characters was basically the same, with some old ones dying out and new ones being added along the way. In "Capable of Honor", he focuses on two characters vying for the nomination of their party to run for President, and brings everything to a climax in "Preserve and Protect". Alas, he ultimately couldn't decide who won, and wrote two opposing sequels, each one portraying a different presidency. Alas, as the series progressed, Drury's writing became more polemic and less novel, and suffered for it.
I think it might be a good approach. Very few authors manage to keep ongoing interesting, meaningful and believable character development over a serie. If you manage to keep the feeling of the story together I think i works just fine and in many if not most cases better then sticking to the same character.
Tom Clancy tried with his Jack Ryan series, but even though some of the books in it were entertaining reads, I think he struck out on believable character development.
No, the question was purely hypothetical.
Anne Rice used this approach (to some extent) with her vampire series, and I really enjoyed it and wondered if others do too. If I'm not mistaken, Victor Hugo did the same with Les Miserables, but I read that so long ago that I don't really remember too well.
There are several examples that come to mind--the first one was the Narnia series. The main characters shift as time advances. This would obviously be a necessity if your series covered generational lengths of time.
My series is sort of partially having a different main character and partially not. Each novel in the series(after the first of course) has different main "guest" characters in addition to the main protagonists carrying over from previous novels. I guess it's sort of like that.
But no, I don't mind it at all if it's done right.(Like anything else)
'les miserables' was a single novel... how do you see it being a series?
It is 5 volumes in one book - it is at very least a series of short story/novellas, each has a different narrator.
I'm not sure I would consider that a "series". To me, a series is a set of multiple novels, such as C.P. Snow's 11 volume "Strangers and Brothers" series or John Jakes' 8 volume "Kent Family Chronicles".
It's not strictly a series but the principle of five stories told from the point of view of different main characters is certainly represented. Although personally if Michael Ball hadn't been my image for Marius I may not have read through it lol
And my vague memory is that each story is called a volume in Les Miserables and treated very much as a different stories. It is a good example for the OP.
perhaps in writing a single book of that type, but not a good example of what the OP proposed doing, which is writing several individual books in an actual 'series'...
As long as it's well written I find it an appeling style of doing a series.
the problem is, it isn't a 'series' at all... or even close to one...
each of the sections of les mis were only integral parts of the same story, not separate stories that could stand alone, which is what a 'series' is...
I was commenting on the main post of this thead, I myself have never read the Les Mis.
Do not want. To me, a big fat pillar of a story/series is its main character. For example, I follow Supernatural because Dean and Sam are so cute and funny. If they were to suddenly be omitted and this old man Bobby Singer would be the new hero, I'd stop watching. I'm a person who cares alot about the central character, even a little less for the story itself perhaps.
There are stories that might not even be that much character-based. For example, if you were to make a chronicle about, say, prostitution as a topic, not about prostitutes as people, well okay, tell of a different prosty in each story all you like, that's no problem. But when a story starts out character-based, I want to know what happens to the character I've initially warmed up to.
I love a character-based story, but I'm working on 2 different series right now.
The first is a straight-forward teen fantasy thing, 1 first person main character for each story. It's going to be very clearly laid out from the start that there are 4 main characters and each tells a novel, and the series can keep going as long as I have the will to write it - have 8 books planned so far, written 2 and a half of them. I'm not going to attempt to publish them until I've done at least the first cycle and have plots laid out for the next 4 to prove it can stand as a series and I'm gonna pull it off. (I AM going to pull it off, but at the moment 2.5 books isn't enough for people who don't know what I'm like when I start something writing-related. )
Anyway, point is, since I'm going to market it as a "one character per book" series, I'm hoping people will buy into it. I know my main character in the first one has a very distinct voice, and then the narrator in the second is very different from her, and that worries me sometimes, since she's got a very different sense of humour, and the first book is very comedic at times. I know a lot of people might switch off because they're expecting more of the same from the first book. But my characters aren't like that - I'm not going to use a whimsical voice to write all 4 when only one character is whimsical, the next is cynical, the third is straight-forward, etc. I've thought long and hard about it, and I'm just going to have to accept that some people don't like series like this, or can't make the leap between characters because they associate a writing style with the series, rather than plots or whatever...
And yes I have spent the last year or so talking about this, and getting annoyed with people who didn't like the transition.
My other series is a lot more serious, and also 3rd person and with multiple "narrators" for each story. I'm merely setting a second thing in the same place with 5/6ths new characters and one character who barely narrated a thing in the 1st one now one of the major characters in the 2nd. Since it's 3rd person I can have exactly the same writing style, and I'm not worrying about anything, since all the problems with my other series stemmed from switching from airy-fairy nonsense to a cynical, vicious narrator.
Wow, I'm really excited to read that, I can't wait!
You bring up a point I'd like to explore more.
How do most people take the transition from one main character to another one with a totally different voice? Let's hear some thoughts on this!
Personally, I don't mind as long as long as 1) each main character is interesting and non-annoying and 2) the original main character still features prominently in the sequel(s). One of my pet peeves concerning Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles is that the main character from the first book (Louis) becomes more and more absent in the sequels. Oh, and an example of what I find an annoying change in lead voice is in Breaking Dawn, in which part of the book is told from Jacob's voice. No offense to fans, but I. Did. Not. Like. That. Part.
Really, man, it all has to do with how well you portray each character. There will be more pressure put on more characters by doing it like that, however, so it would most definitely be more difficult to accomplish properly.
Terry Brooks' Sword of Shannara series features a progression of main characters and that works quite well. It's got an organic, evolving feel to it which is kind of necessary, considering he writes across generations of characters.
Like most things, I think it's a device which can work just fine if it's implemented well by the author.
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