Friday, June 17, 2011

Al goes nuts about POV

My post of the other day has got me thinking.

I talked about writing in a non-linear fashion. That is something that most people who commented did not generally do. It seems that people will generally swap POV as they go rather than jump around like I am at the moment.

That got me thinking about POV and how many I have in my current WIP. It’s quite a few. In fact my WIP Veiled in Storms has no less than five narrators.

But then I sat down and counted how many voices contribute to my first novel Veiled in Shadows. It is, wait for it… eleven.

That’s right no less than eleven characters contributing in some way to the narrative flow.

Now to be sure there are (only) six main narrators. Then there are…

Wait a minute it’s actually twelve voices. I went to count less important narrators and realised I’d missed one!

Six major narrators, all of whom narrate as if speaking. But then it gets a little more complex, two of the minor narrators also speak, but the third ‘talks’ through the medium of a record of interrogation. He is one of a few real historical persons in my book and his ‘voice’ is based in part on his actual interrogation as a prisoner in 1945.

One of the three extra voices speaks as a narrator, another takes the form a of a one page letter and the third is presented as a two page police report.

By now you must think I have a serious case of multiple personality disorder.
So what do you think, does it sound too complicated?

From my perspective it was a challenge to write, but an enjoyable challenge. Interestingly none of the people who have read or reviewed the book have said (at least to me) that it felt fractured or disjointed.

Two piccies from my archive. And given I am talking about writing I am going to feature libraries today. The first is a small rural library in the gold-rush era town of Clunes.The second is a suburban Melbourne library. The Fitzroy Library is in the suburb of Fitzroy. It is a grand structure built with gold-rush money in the nineteenth century.

8 comments:

Linda G. said...

I think the danger of having so many POVs is that the reader might not have enough time in any one character's head to feel a strong connection. That said, it can work well, lending an almost cinematic atmosphere to a novel.

Kathleen Jones said...

I definitely thought that you had too many povs in Shadows. It was one of my only reservations. And it does distract from the main push of the narrative. I think 5 or 6 is probably the maximum you can get away with, so your current decision seems good. Most commercial fiction keeps within that limit (dan brown?). Very intrigued to see how this WIP comes out! Personally I like books with several different voices - you never get bored with just one character!

C. Pinheiro said...

I think that POV is important-- it needs to be handled in a way that makes the book pleasurable to read. The only way to really know is to get some beta readers out there, let them read the manuscript, and let them tell you what they think. I usually stick to one POV in my books-- it's just the way my mind works.

Jenny Maloney said...

If twelve narrators is what the story needs, then twelve narrators is what the story needs. As long as you're clear in your head, and the writing is clear on the page, twelve can work just fine. A lot of thrillers have multiple views like that--and it adds to the tension because you can see where the bad guys are, where the good guys are, and the reader is in the position to see "Uh-oh, this isn't gonna be good when they all get to X."

Fantasy also lends itself to multiple characters--you've got a whole world to fill, after all....

Again, it's that old rule of thumb: Do what works. You got skills and I've got faith. =)

Old Kitty said...

I say hey!! If you can pull it off - why not?!?!? Good luck!! Take care
x

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I think it would be a daunting challenge to adequately carry twelve POVs. Not saying it can't be done, but it would be extremely difficult, and could run the risk of presenting each character in such a superficial way, the reader may not properly identify with any of them.

Theres just life said...

The good thing about the different POVs in Shadows was the short chapters. You never got lost as to who was speaking. I think the different POVs enriched the story.

I can't wait for the new one.

Pamela Jo

Anonymous said...

Great post, I admire the writing style :) A little off topic here but what theme are you using? Looks pretty cool.


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