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Focusing on 1 character at a time?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by cak85, Apr 17, 2021.

  1. cak85

    cak85 Minstrel

    So I am thinking of the most efficient way of writing and finishing my WIP.

    My story is about lady giant from a small archipelago in the middle of the ocean. She eventually ends up on a quest to bring her forsaken father back to the island.

    Anyways - I am planning on having 3 POV characters with the Lady Giant (Simta) being the MC. Since it takes me a significant amount of time getting into the head of each my characters. I was thinking I could write each of the three characters plots and then weave them together when I am finished with the whole story.

    Has anyone ever tried writing different POVs separately? If so, are there any pitfalls I should look out for?
  2. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

    That's what we're doing for our third book and it's making things a bit easier. I have a bit of a time getting into a character's headspace, so for this book, which has three interconnected plotlines that eventually converge, it's helps keep my head in the game.
    skip.knox and cak85 like this.
  3. MrNybble

    MrNybble Sage

    I have over a dozen POVs in most of my stories. It changes with each chapter most of the time. There is a hint on who's POV it is because each chapter starts with dialogue. Whomever is speaking at the start of a chapter is the current POV. As an example of how to make multiple POVs work depending on the story.
  4. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    My longer tales tend to feature multiple POV's. Rule is, one chapter, one POV, each chapter being a sort of mini-story in it's own right. I don't have the same POV in back to back chapters.
  5. cak85

    cak85 Minstrel

    Thanks! This is a very helpful response.
  6. cak85

    cak85 Minstrel

    Thanks for the ideas! My question is not necessarily about how to weave together multiple POVs but about pros and cons of writing 1 character POV at a time.

    My plan is to write my MC's (Simta) chapters first. Mostly because her story drives the plot of my story. Then I plan on weaving in the other 2 POVs who are more rogue/wild-card characters into the story.
  7. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Inkling

    I have 4 POV characters. Everyone has different ways to label/organize them in outlines/scrivener/what have you and you gotta figure out what works best for you. If that means writing 4 separate stories and then putting them together in editing, then do that! I used the same colors for each character across programs/phyiscal notebooks/etc to help keep track of stuff. You gotta remember that everyone makes their story look nice and coherent in editing, so don't worry about the flow/being perfectly logical when you interlace the chapters together.

    I also have the character doing an action within the first paragraph, ideally the first 1-2 sentences; they may think something, they may observe something, they may do something, or they may be the target of some dialogue ("y'know, for a giant talking bird, you're really bad at eating french fries off the ground!" I think this can be a good way to connect chapters and where they're in relation to each other. POV1's chapter had them seeing POV3 struggling to eat a french fry half way through the chapter, so when it's POV3's turn that it was something that happened in the past. Or maybe a friend came over just after POV1 was out of sight to help them with the fries. I wrote it in a mostly (time) linear fashion, never jumping back too far in time when we go to another character. But for how my brain handles stories, it works the best for me. You have to experiment and see what's best for you!
    cak85 likes this.
  8. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Inkling

    Yes, I normally have several POV characters in my novels, 2 or 3 main characters and up to 6 or 7 minor characters. My experience is that the main characters should have the most detailed points of view descriptions, but that you can and should also give your minor characters their own points of view if it advances the story. As for separate chapters, that depends. If my main characters are in separate places then yes, they'll each have their own chapters. If they're in the same place at the same time then I tend to switch between points of view within the same chapter. Minor characters don't get their own chapters, but when neccessary they do get their own sections within a chapter. No matter how you structure your points of view I think its important to ensure your timeline is consistent for all the characters so that things happen in the right order.

    I also have several POV characters in my short stories, but that is much harder to handle. I find that in short stories there is a limit as to how many POV characters you can have - 2 or 3 seems to be what is possible without the story getting too complex and choppy in its structure.
  9. Yes, I do this often.

    I sometimes use different POV ( first person for one character, third person past/omniscient for another) to help me keep my storytelling fresh as I explore the world and find the best voice for the whole book. Since this is usually during a first draft I am doing this, I know I'll be rewriting a ton anyway so I'll align the story POV once I've settled on what works best overall with the characters/world.
  10. I remember hearing that Brandon Sanderson writes this way, so focussing on 1 POV at a time and writing the complete story that way. So it can definitely be done. The only way to find out if it works for you is to try it. Every writers process is different so give it a go.

    As for things to look out for this is what I can think of:
    - pacing: since you write all story lines separately and only during editing put them together, your pacing may be off. You could end up with 3 slow chapters in a row if three different character go through a quiet moment round the same point for instanvce. So, while editing, pay attention to the pacing of your story.
    - plot-holes: make sure that you tie up everything (though this is good writing advise in general of course). But I can imagine that you're writing one POV and think to yourself that you should write something in another POV to foreshadow what happens or something like that. And then when you get round to it you've either forgotten or your mind thinks you've written it already so you skip over it.
    skip.knox likes this.
  11. Vel

    Vel Dreamer

    The book i'm working on right now has multiple POVs as well. Try not to switch POV each chapter or too much in one chapter. i've read books where it goes like,
    (MC 1 POV)
    *insert 3 paragraph dialogue between mc 1 and mc 2*
    (MC 2 POV)
    *insert 5 paragraph of the continuation of dialogue*
    (back to MC 1 for 5 more paragraphs)
    All in one chapter going back and forth. It gets a little confusing for some people.
    When switching POV you can start off a chapter with a thought, or an action that lets your readers know whos POV it is. Or you can simply let your readers know straight foward, whichever you enjoy best! My MC 1 is more professional and sophisticated than my second MC, so for her POV her thoughts are more elaborate and alert. She pays attention to more details. MC 2 has a more lazy and apathetic attitude, so his POV and thoughts are more scattered. Get to know your characters and what tells them apart. Try to make sure each character has their own different "voice"

    Another thing about multiple POVs is choosing whos POVs to do for certain scenes. When writing an important scene with all characters in it think about whos POV would have a bigger impact on the readers. Think about which character is most effected by what happens in the scene and why.
    Overall just see what works best for your story!
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2021
  12. That sounds like it's in omniscient POV instead of third person limited. Both of them are valid POV styles, they're also very different.

    In limited you are in a single person's head and only in that person's head for a specific amount of time. You only get to experience what that person experiences. In omniscient you either get all important thoughts which are going on all the time or you're getting the story "told" to you by a narrator, who choses to focus on specific people. In omniscient you can get told everything you need to know, even if it's happening in a different country or it will happen in the future.

    Third person limited is the current standard (in so far as such a thing exists in writing) for a lot of genre's (or first). But there's still great books being written in omniscient which is amazing if it's done well but can be terrible if not. And a lot of the clasics were writen in omniscient.
  13. Malise

    Malise Scribe

    I'm currently doing a story that has a 1st person omniscient unreliable lemony narrator, who half-heartedly pretends to be a 3rd person limited multi-perspective narrator. The very early plot twist is that this narrator is really a spirit who slips into people's minds and messes with their emotions so it can eat their suffering, and thus very purposely obfuscates their narration with the thoughts of the people that they possess to gaslight them.

    If this all sounds odd, I guess I'll TDLR this POV that I'm writing in as the 'reality TV narrator with an F- in professionalism' POV.

    This is the first time I'm doing this type of narrator and I'm only at the beginning of my story, so I can't give you any certified tips and tricks at the moment. So, I'll you what I'm planning to do.

    I'm giving every character that is getting possessed by the narrator their own unique speech pattern, so the reader can get a hint on what thoughts are characters and not the narrator's. One character speaks and thinks entirely in run-on sentences while another emotes a lot while talking. Along with that, the narrator can only switch perspectives when two characters are beside each other physically. Lastly, since I'm writing a dramedy, the narrator will usually only switch perspectives when the narrator thinks it would be funny to do so.

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