Rebecca Day

Viewpoints and such

Posted by rwday on October 12, 2007

Fimbulvetr is now up to about 23k words and I’m wrestling for what is essentially the first time with multiple POVs. The closest I’ve come before was my very first foray into novels, Spirals, which has one main POV and three supplementals. That was pretty easy, plus of course I had that sort of beginner’s luck thing going where I wasn’t educated enough to know I was supposed to have problems, hence, no problems.

This is another kettle of mahi-mahi. Here I will eventually have 6 viewpoint characters, all more or less equal, each telling different aspects of the story. Their individual stories will intersect at various places. This is essentially what George R.R. Martin does with Song of Ice and Fire. (Not comparing myself to Martin, who is a frelling genius, in any way other than the technique I’m currently using, mind.)

First problem – giving each POV character a distinctive voice, because I’m using a fairly deep POV technique. I don’t want my reader picking up the book and not being able to tell from the narrative whether the story’s being told by a 30 year old priest or a sulky 15 year old girl.

Second problem – continuity. I’m telling each character’s story, but sometimes the telling of it is separated by 2 or 3 chapters of other people’s stories and I forget what I’ve already said, what’s going on, etc. I have to do a lot of re-reading and referring to notes that’s bogging me down. I’m beginning to think it might be easier to just write all of character A, then all of character B, etc., then break it into chapters later. The issue with that is I’m not sure with certain scenes whose POV I will end up using. For example, I recently rewrote chapter 5, switching it from sulky girl to priest. If I do the all of A, then all of B strategy, I’m guaranteeing myself a good bit of rewriting. Which I hate.

Third problem – redundancy. I don’t need six different people explaining to my poor beleaguered readers how the dynasty was established or what magical powers the tyrannical kings had. I need different POV characters to reveal different parts of the worldbuilding, and they need to do it in character. What sulky peasant girl thinks about the institutional church is going to be very different from what the priest thinks from what my noblewoman thinks, and because some of the narrators are a little unreliable, the truth lies somewhere in between. I’ve never actually planned how to incorporate my worldbuilding before. In Thaw, it just sort of dribbled out via David’s rambling. That isn’t working here – I need to plan a little more.

Planning. *sighs* Yeah, guess I’d better go do some of that.

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3 Responses to “Viewpoints and such”

  1. Renee said

    Wow. Good luck with that. I’m currently keeping to one POV after nearly having a brain meltdown with two POVs in Gods Falling. And I used alternating third person POVs there. What more with multiple first person?

    A plotbunny that I currently have in outline mode is supposed to be an epistolary novel, and the prospects are frightening. I’ve written epistolary fiction before, a couple of them coming from multiple POVs, and they were a bitch to write. Like you noted, it was a matter of avoiding a repetition of events and also creating distinct voices for the characters.

    You’re at a greater advantage, I think, since your characters are vastly different from each other. It’ll be easier for you to “find” their voices. The epistolary pieces I wrote involved characters who were the same age and shared similar backgrounds. Not sure if I want to do that again.

  2. rwday said

    I should be okay once I get things sorted out and actually force my butt in the chair and WRITE – am having a bad case of procrastination-itis.

    I love epistolary fiction – but yes, if the correspondents are similar, it makes creating distinctive voices hard.

    I had a story rejected once because the editor didn’t like epistolary fiction. There was ONE letter in the story, about 50/3000 words – not exactly what I’d call epistolary.

  3. Renee said

    I had a story rejected once because the editor didn’t like epistolary fiction. There was ONE letter in the story, about 50/3000 words – not exactly what I’d call epistolary.

    *dies* Are you serious? Thank God, then, that you didn’t send them a full-on epistolary piece.

    I love epistolary fiction – but yes, if the correspondents are similar, it makes creating distinctive voices hard.

    The best and worst experience I had was writing an AU fanfic in which five schoolboys wrote alternately snarky, whiny, horny notes to the Virgin Mary. It was fun as heck, but they were all the same age, and despite the divergence in personalities, I still nearly killed myself in creating distinctive voices. Two of them ended up being so similar that I just gave up and let the fic go as is.

    Good luck with yours! Your descriptions sound really fascinating (and challenging). Hope the process works out smoothly for you. 😀

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