New? Begin with lesson one.
Perhaps one of the most important elements of writing a draft is deciding which point-of-view to use. It flavors your word choices throughout the piece and determines both the timing and scope of the events you describe.
Start by considering the scope of your story.
Does the plot impact an entire society or just one character? The larger the scope of your story, the more likely it is you will want to shift point-of-view at some point in the narrative. When events happening all over a particular city, nation, world, or worlds impacting the plot, being able to write chapters from the perspectives of different characters allows you more freedom to show those events than sticking with the protagonist's point-of-view alone.
No matter the scope of a story, both multiple and single character perspectives can work. The Hunger Games trilogy is an example of a large scope story told from a single perspective executed well. The Harry Potter series would also fit into this category. The Acorna Series by Anne McCaffrey, Margaret Ball, and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough is an example of a large scope story told from multiple perspectives. They all work well because the voice and perspectives chosen enhance the story the authors wanted to tell.
Why does the single perspective work so well for stories like Hunger Games and Harry Potter when it wouldn't for much of McCaffrey's work or say the old Star Wars novel franchise? The answer lies in the needs of the series. Hunger Games and Harry Potter are both series centering around one character's coming of age within the larger plot of the series. Limiting the point-of-view to that of the protagonist highlights their growth into adulthood throughout the series because their mind is the lens through which the larger story is told. By contrast, Acorna covers the fate of the title character's race, the Linyaari. Acorna herself serves not only as a window into understanding this race for the reader, but within the plot, she acts as a liaison between the Linyaari and humanity since she was raised by a group of miners who found her as a child. While still as important to the plot of the series and main protagonist, it's not her story alone. Having multiple perspectives allows the authors to create tension between the two species and the individual bridging them as well as show events happening across the galaxy first hand.
Think ahead. Is your story a stand alone or part of a larger whole?
Whether you are writing a single story or the first of a trilogy or series can impact your choice of perspective. I'll once again use my own writings as an example because I know the thought process behind them.
Right of Succession itself is Chantal's coming of age story. If I intended it to be a stand alone novel, I would have written it from her point-of-view alone. However, I also have around ten more solid ideas for the larger Yekara Series, and Chantal will fade into a secondary character's slot in later novels. Having multiple perspectives within RoS not only allowed me to set up plot lines to carry through the next four to six novels in the series, it works to keep the tone and voice consistent throughout the series.
I'll be using the same technique in the Icarus trilogy because although Pyrha Deadalus is the protagonist, the trilogy centers around the project as a whole rather than her as a character. On the other side of the spectrum, I wrote "From the Ashes" from Deirdre's perspective because I plan the upcoming Of Secrets and Stones trilogy to be her story.
Consider your voice and style.
Although it can take a while to find your writing voice, every writer has their own unique voice and style. Consider yours. Are you more comfortable writing in first or third person? Do you prefer a limited or omniscient narrator? While it's great to go outside your comfort zone, it's near impossible to keep up a voice that's difficult for you to write for a novel length piece. If you want to play with a new voice, short stories make for good practice until it becomes second nature.
If you decide to use multiple points-of-view, don't go nuts.
Multiple points-of-view using limited narrators can be a terrific tool. However, it's easy to go overboard, especially with complex storylines with lots of characters. Reign yourself in, and try to keep it to a relatively small number of points-of-view to avoid confusing your readers.
Looking back, I had a too many perspectives when writing Right of Succession. At different points of the novel Maya, Chantal, Lanre, Zalier, Ralic, Usarn, Brigton, Tricon, Valiance, Jadrick, Falcon, Eugrin, and even an unnamed Tembar soldier all act as narrators. I had my reasons at the time, but if I were sitting down to write it again, I'd limit myself to no more than five or six points-of-view. I'd been playing with these characters for more than a decade, so the swaps made sense to me. However, some readers have complained it was too much, and on a fresh look, I see they're correct.
I started out planning The Icarus Project with almost every character in the main group narrating at least one chapter. After becoming aware of the issue with too many narrators spoiling the read, I've gone back through and reworked my outline to limit them as much as possible. It was a challenge at first, but it looks like it will strengthen the plot and descriptions while increasing the pace of the book and making it easier to follow.
My apologies for this being a day later than planned. I became caught up in preparing for Con Kasterborous last week and forgot it was scheduled for the 20th versus the 27th. Over the next two weeks, I will be translating this course into a high school elective course for the school where my husband works, so that should force me to write and schedule the remainder of the course ahead of time since it must be completed before the start of school on August 5.
Thank you for reading, and as always if you have comments or questions please speak up in the comments below.
Continue to the last lesson in the description series: pacing.
A. B. England is a small business owner, mom of two, novelist, all around geek, and avid crafter. She loves mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
Yekara Series Book 2
The Icarus Project
Rough Draft Progress
70566 / 75000
Myth & Science Collection
Icarus Trilogy Book 2
Yekara Series Book 3
Myth & Science Collection 2
Intent Only at this Time
Icarus Trilogy Book 3
Supers Collection 2
Intent Only at this Time
Yekara Series Book 4