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Creating balance between multiple POVs

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Devouring Wolf, Jun 20, 2016.

  1. Devouring Wolf

    Devouring Wolf Sage

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    I've realized one of the major problems with my story is that it has three major characters, but one of them is introduced so late in the story that while he's sympathetic he feels more like a major obstacle than a major character which is not what I wanted. Its very important to the story that he be not just someone you understand but someone you root for even if he's opposing the other MC so I need the amount of time we spend with each character to be much more balanced

    However, his story is one of revenge against the other MC, so what he's doing in the earlier scenes is trying to track down the other character, which would be a great plot-line, if the reader didn't already know exactly where the other character was because he had his own POV. Conversely I've tried writing this story initially from his perspective and introducing the other POV character much later, but it had the same unbalancing affect on the narrative. There just doesn't seem to be a way to track both plotlines without killing tension.

    Anyone faced a similar challenge and overcome it?
     
  2. La Volpe

    La Volpe Sage

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    In general, I think you should introduce your main characters in the first quarter of the book if you can help it at all.

    I had a story where my main character is looking for her brother. Then I introduce the brother character with a POV as an obstacle to her finding the brother. I.e. I'm hiding the fact that he is her brother. And later on, his true identity is revealed. In this case, neither knew what the other looked like, so they could interact without giving away their familial relationship.

    So, I don't know if you could perhaps do something similar. I.e. is there a way you could disguise the fact that <the guy upon which vengeance is to be exacted> is the target of the revenge? For example, you could have him also looking for someone, and be vague enough that the reader might suspect they're looking for the same person.

    Alternatively, you might try to play up the tension by allowing yourself to reveal that one of the POV characters is the target of your first MC's revenge. In a lot of cases, the dramatic irony is enough to spike up the tension, especially if you keep almost bringing the two together. Something to consider, perhaps.
     
  3. Holoman

    Holoman Troubadour

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    Does it not work to introduce the MC you want the reader to root for first, tell them he is looking for person X, then switch to person X and use the fact the reader knows MC is hunting for him to build suspense while you spend a lot of time in person X's perspective?
     
  4. Devouring Wolf

    Devouring Wolf Sage

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    This is actually pretty much what I did. The story starts with a prologue which explains why my one MC wants to kill the other one and then it switches over to the other one until they finally meet much later, but I just didn't feel like it makes him enough of a character. I think what I've decided to do though is to take it out and give him a plotline of tracking down the other MC, but rather than focusing on where he is since we already know, I'll use the time to slowly reveal why he's after him.
     
  5. I have a similar issue, in that I seem to want to write using free indirect discourse. I have found some aren't all that fond of it from a technical standpoint, but there are several classics and master authors that have used it.

    My feeling is that if you are concise and don't confuse the reader, why not?
     
  6. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

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    In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo- Lisbeth Salander is introduced halfway through the book. What helps the reader make a connection with and cheer for her is that her personality is highly interesting and she suffers a great deal at the hands of her new guardian. If you show well enough why the reader should be on the new character's side it is okay if they appear much later in the book.
     
  7. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    I'm sort of going through the same thing right now, except in the first draft, the antagonist wasn't a POV character. In this rewrite, I'm making him a POV. So, at the climax of act 1, the antagonist has the protagonist in his grip, but she escapes. And so she knows he's looking for her, after, but he's not sure she's the person he's looking for. When he finds out it's her, they meet again at the end of the book. Not sure that's much help to you. SO I guess if one of them is aware of the other, but not the other way around, it could work well?

    Best wishes!
     
  8. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Devouring Wolf, what exactly is the problem? I know you said something about killing tension, but is this feedback you are getting from beta readers, or is it your own assessment? Do you have a completed draft? Can you identify where the story goes off the rails?

    These questions can be filed in the "author as his own worst enemy" drawer. I'm asking just to see if that might be the case.
     
  9. Devouring Wolf

    Devouring Wolf Sage

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    The story's not finished yet so its mostly my own assessment but I do thin its a real problem. Right now one of my major characters is introduced so late that he doesn't have time to properly develop, but I think I solved the problem when I realized I really needed to start the story way earlier and actually have a lot of the "backstory" become part of the story proper (even if this does leave me with the even bigger issue of dealing with a major time skip).
     
  10. Helen

    Helen Sage

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    You could define each character arc and progress them in parallel. Almost like Harry, Ron and Hermione in one position in the Ordinary World, each a step change further in the First Threshold and so on.
     
  11. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Well, attack it as makes sense to you, of course. All I will say is that I have wasted mountains of time solving problems that weren't really problems yet because I had not actually written the story yet. When the story actually got written, a great many of those imagined problems simply no longer even existed, but were replaced by any number of real problems. Since those problems were right there on the page, actual words, I was able to deal with them in a practical way.

    Lately I try not to worry much over pre-writing problems. I concentrate mainly on butt-in-chair problems, word-count problems and discipline problems. Also known as stop-looking-at-social-media-you-fool problems.
     
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