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February was a pretty hectic month for me while I finished the first draft of 'Evermore Archives'. It was a good experience as well, and one of the things I came away with was the sense of dynamics you can get into a novel with multiple points of view.

I'll try to explain this without giving away too much of the action--the downside is that the story may sound pretty generic, but please bear with me. The action isn't the point. The interactions are.

Basically the novel has three main characters. The main focus is on Julee Prost, who is a new addition to the crew of the starship Evermore. On the planet Ventibia he becomes a sort of trophy for different factions, who want to capture him and use him for their own political ends. Julee, however, has little regard for the idea of being used, and he has his own plans for political stability on the planet.

This bit -- the creation of his own political plans -- is something that evolves gradually through the story in connection with another character, Penelope Smita. Penelope is a Fringer, a loose alliance of people who have adapted to life under extreme conditions on Ventibia. They're marginalized in political society, but Penelope has managed to claw her way to a position of power. Her position is undermined when the Evermore arrives, though, and she has to seek new allies -- and reassess her position in society.

Together, the two viewpoints (ideally) give the reader in-depth views of two sides of the political conflict on Ventibia--that of the newcomer, and that of the marginalized people on the planet. Penelope knows the dangers and opportunities, and Julee is able to add new perspectives to them. The two characters are also able to supplement each others' ideas, change their goals, and evolve as persons. (Ideally, of course. Whether I pull it off is another matter. But this aspect of the story works, I think).

Enter the third Point of View--the missionary known as the Hellchaser. His experiences follow a different path than the other two, and the discoveries he makes increase the stakes for everyone involved.

It's worth noting that Julee and Penelope don't know what the Hellchaser does. The reader knows, however, and he or she will also recognize how important it is for Julee and Penelope to succeed. That adds urgency to Julee's part of the story, and that should ideally make it a more exciting read.

So in short, the lesson I learned and was finally able to put a finger on while writing Evermore Archives is that widely different perspectives give readers a deeper understanding of the world the author invites them into.

Any epiphanies you've had while writing recently?

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
jennygordon
Mar. 23rd, 2012 08:39 am (UTC)
I agree that multiple pov writing is a great way to flesh out the world the reader sees. One problem I've encountered when writing multpile pov novels, however, is the word count absolutely BALLOONING! Just like George RR Martin's 'Song of Ice and Fire' series! It's a tricky balancing act to manage to tell each person's story thread, while not losing sight of the central premise. Not to mention keeping it all straight in my head!
jakobdrud
Mar. 23rd, 2012 11:26 am (UTC)
The wordcount is a tricky part, which I learned in my first (200K) novel. But sometimes, different POVs also make it possible to sum up events that a first-person POV would have to go through in order for the reader to understand that world. Example: Character A may hear a comment in passing that the forces of Y do Z to helpless citizens in the wilderness. If Character A is old and experienced, he may have seen such things before, whereas Character B, the young newcomer, would have to leave the city and travel through the wilderness to understand the same thing.

Eh... probably not the best example, but I hope you get the idea.
jennygordon
Mar. 27th, 2012 08:47 am (UTC)
I do get the idea, and I agree that multiple POV can be a useful tool for all sorts of reasons - whatever a particular book demands is best in my view.
karin_gastreich
Mar. 23rd, 2012 02:13 pm (UTC)
No epiphanies to share, but I love multi POV stories. For all the reasons you mentioned, and also because it allows me to reveal the 'backstory' -- the history of the world -- gradually and from different perspectives. This is great, because the reader learns 'history' much as we do, as interpreted by the eye of the beholder, and somewhat different even in the important details, depending on who you talk to. It's one of my favorite dynamics to play with when I'm writing.

Jenny's point about Martin's voluminous word count is well-taken, but multi-pov novels do not need to be mega-word count novels as well. The trick is focusing on a handful of crucial pov's (as you did), and making use of them in critical moments, as opposed to fully developing the story threads of dozens of pov's (as Martin has done, though he has done it very well).

I could go on about this, but I do have to get to work this morning...Thanks for your thought-provoking post!
jakobdrud
Mar. 23rd, 2012 03:24 pm (UTC)
Thanks for your input! It's funny that you mention history, as it is one of the things the characters are really involved with in this novel.

I must admit that I like those monstrous novels of Martin's -- I'm a big fan of Peter F. Hamilton too, and his stories usually don't fit in on less than 2000 pages. I have a dream of writing something along those lines at some time in the future, but for now I'm limiting myself to a more manageable manuscript.
karin_gastreich
Mar. 23rd, 2012 09:33 pm (UTC)
Is that where the title "Evermore Archives" comes from? It sounds like a cool novle.

I love Martin's work, but I can also see how it would be overwhelming for some readers. And I'm not particularly tempted to take on that approach as a writer. But -- haha -- check back with me in another 10 years. If I'm still doing this writing thing, I may have changed my mind by then. ;)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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