Thursday, July 30, 2009

His or Her Story? Using Multiple Main Characters and Story Lines

illustration by Conny Jude

The Literary Lab is here for you! We know you have questions, and we'd like to help where we can. So ask away by clicking over in the Just Ask section in the right hand column. Thanks to Christopher Goodwine who recently asked:

The more I research and explore the blogosphere, the more I notice an implicit sense that there is one sole main character in stories: "My MC," "the MC," "your MC's emotional development," "the crisis your MC must face," etc..

What if a story incorporates several characters' stories interwoven to achieve its ends? I mean beyond minor and supporting characters. Would a novel be acceptable if it gives equal importance and wordage to two characters or more? Or is it essential for today's readership that there is one particular character for whom the story is ultimately about?

This is a great question, Christopher! First of all, I don't think it's essential for today's readership that there is one particular character for whom a story is ultimately about. This is the conventional way to tell a story, and seems to be the most popular. I personally prefer it, but perhaps that is because I have not read or seen many stories that effectively use multiple main characters, and because I tried to do this in both the novels I have written - and failed.

I asked Davin if he had any good examples of novels that effectively use multiple main characters and story lines. He brought up Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer and The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. I'll take Davin's word and state that both novels use three to four main characters to tell the story. Now why does this work? And how? I'll try and shed some light using my own experience.

How Are You Holding Your Story Together?
Bear with me here as I talk about my first novel. I rarely do this publicly, so consider it a rare treat.

My first novel failed. It has failed even in the sixth draft. I had this "brilliant" idea to write two story lines - the story of a girl who is reluctantly kidnapped, and the story of her selfish mother, Karen, who doesn't care that her only daughter is missing. Both story lines, completely separate for most of the book, bore the same weight for me. Both characters were The Main Character. And both had their own chapters in the book.

Chapter One - Naomi
Chapter Two - Karen
Chapter Three - Naomi
Chapter Four - Karen

You get the idea. That should work, right? Both characters are well written and compelling. Both story lines have tension and growth. Both tie together at the end. It should work. Right? Well, I thought so until I put the book aside for 10 months. I had plenty of feedback from earlier on, but decided to let two friends read it a few weeks ago. Why is Karen in here? they asked. I get to her chapters and I groan. I want Naomi's story! This is HER story! And there's plenty of it to go around without her mother interfering.

Since I wasn't as close to the novel anymore, I took a good hard look at the characters. I love them both, but I've ultimately decided that my friends are right. I could go both ways with this book - get rid of Karen's point of view and only tell Naomi's story (which I'm most likely to do) or tell both stories, but shift the themes of my novel to something bigger than character-related subjects. Let me explain. (Thanks to Davin, I can begin to wrap my head around this)

The Way It Is Now - A Character Framework
The themes in my book revolve around creating your own happiness, not relying on others to hand it to you. Great theme. It works. There's more to it than that, but that's the gist. Both Karen and Naomi take this journey, and they help each other reach the same conclusions. But in the end, nothing would have happened without Naomi's story, without her character. She is the framework that holds the story together, the one my readers root for and genuinely care about.

The Way It Could Be - An Overarching Framework
If I made the point of the novel something bigger that held the story together, I could get away with more than one story line. For instance, when I asked Davin what the point of The Joy Luck Club is, he said: "Ancestry. It was about the generational gap, between people born and raised in China and their daughters, born and raised in the U.S."

That's a pretty big idea, and if that's the point of the story, I can see how four separate story lines could easily work. So for my book I might use a larger framework to hold everything together - how partner abuse affects relationships, or how Stockholm Syndrome works. Already I can see that if I made this the framework of my story, Karen's point of view would add more depth and meaning to what I'm trying to get across. So unless Karen enters Naomi's world and fights the same antagonists as Naomi (which she never does), her story is simply getting in the way of Naomi's voice and journey.

It's up to me which way I want to go. Going with the overarching framework would mean I'd probably have to rewrite the book. Not sure I want to do that!

Multiple Points Of View Doesn't Mean Multiple Main Characters
I think there might be a misconception out there that if a story (not told omnisciently) has multiple points of view that each point of view character bears the same weight. That's rarely true, that I have seen. In my second novel I have three Point of View Characters. At first I thought I'd try what I had done in my first novel (since I thought it worked at the time), but as I neared the middle I quickly saw that the story obviously belongs to one character. The other Point Of View Characters are secondary; they add depth and texture to the Main Character that I couldn't do any other way. I'm still in the beginning drafts of this novel. Who knows what I'll decide later down the road. I'm still new to all of this!

So how do you figure out who your story is really about? How do you know if you've got an overarching framework or a character framework? It's oftentimes very hard to pinpoint these things in a first draft, especially if you don't plan everything out and begin with what framework you want to use. Many new writers sit down and say, "I want to write this idea, but I'll use this character and this character and this character to tell it all. Yeah, that'll be cool." Sometimes we do begin with things planned out, and the story takes us in a different direction! But no matter what happens, when you finish that first draft you can sit down and figure out whose story you're telling. I have different methods of doing this. One method is to ask:

Which character is struggling the most against the antagonist?

If your story doesn't have what you like to call the "antagonist" then which character is struggling most against the set of rules governing the story? Fighting against a storm, or a group of terrorists or zombies, a generational gap like in Joy Luck Club, an evil government, or whatever. That's usually your Main Character. There are exceptions, but I won't get into those in this post.

If there's more than one character struggling against the antagonist, and they seem to all be equal in their fight, you might have a problem with identifying your Main Character. If you have a problem with that, you can bet your reader will too. It's absolutely essential to know your focus. If you're using an overarching framework, you'd better know what it is and make it clear what you're doing.

As for me, I'm still trying to figure all this novel-writing stuff out. These are just my thoughts, so if you agree or have more to add, or even if you disagree, voice your thoughts in the comments. I'd love to learn from you!

~MDA (aka Glam)


  1. One problem with using multiple MCs is the readers often fall in love with the first MC they meet. (If they don't, they most likely won't meet the second MC.) What this means is your second MC might seem like an impediment. I'm sure some authors have pulled off multiple MCs, but I doubt it's a trick performed well by amateurs.

  2. Justus: So true. Which is why my first novel failed! I agree that the reader usually falls in love with the first MC. It's usually a given that this is the one they should care about. Of course it's always fun and brilliant when the story goes against that and works!

  3. Really great question and super answer, Glam.

    If you haven't read The Joy Luck Club, it's a must. So, so well done you'd swear you were sitting right in that living room. But, I agree that having multiple MC's of equal weight is easier said than done. It's an old one so you can likely find it at thrift stores or used book stores.

    btw, I like your breakaway premise so much -- you'll find your way with that novel and it will be awesome :)

  4. What about six perspectives in a story? My current Project in Query is broken into two parts - 3 perspectives (MC) in the first half, and 3 in the second half. Each chapter details three perspectives, with clear separation between perspectives so as not to confuse the reader.

    Now, after reading blogs that multiple perspectives are frowned upon, I thought . . . gee, should I just do it from one perspective. I began a rewrite until one of my readers said . . . the great thing about the multiple perspective angle is that we see the same night from three different perspectives.

    So, I've kept the multiple perspective thingy and every now and then I work on the single perspective thingy just for funsies!

    I'll also admit that projects that came after this one are all done from a single perspective. It's much easier to write. : )


  5. Oh, man, this post was tough for me.

    In my current WiP, the story is told in two POVs (two MCs) -- one is Anna's story, the other is Fatemah's -- just like your "failed novel." As in The Joy Luck Club (I agree that it's a must read), I've made my framework overarching -- artistic obsession, and I hope it will be enough to carry me through.

    I hope that readers will fall in love with both. They have unique, vastly different stories to tell.

    Thank you very much for the insight, Michelle. You've given me a lot to think about.

  6. I considered writing my next book from multiple view points but settled on an omniscient narrator's point of view- mostly because I'm afraid that readers won't enjoy secondary characters as much as I do!

  7. Tess: I need to put that book on my TBR list. That list is so long I'm feeling a little dizzy. Perhaps I'll take a year off from writing and just read. That might work for me!

    When I finish Breakaway for the five billionth time I'll send it over for you to read. I know it's one you'd really like.

    Scott: There's nothing wrong with 6 perspectives if it works. But I'm wondering if you have 6 MAIN characters??? That seems like a lot for your reader to care about and follow. Are you telling 6 completely different stories or are they all connected? It's difficult for me to comment on your book, of course, since I haven't read it. But I'm a little wary of 6 points of view. Would it be best to tell the story with an omniscient narrator? I've seen that work really well. Almost always, however, there's at least one character we care about the most. May I ask who/what your "antagonist or set of rules" is? And do all 6 of your POV characters "win" over that antagonist or set of rules in the end?

    Weronika: Sorry this was so tough! I'm glad it gave you some good things to think about, though. Your novel sounds incredibily intriguing! It reminds me of the movie, "Girl With a Pearl Earring" for some reason, from what little I know. So do your two story lines converge at all?

    Mariah: That's an interesting decision! I hope it works out for you. Still, with an omniscient narrator (who is a character in their own right), you need to identify your Main Character and make it clear who that is. I've seen omniscient narrators fail at this, but since I've never written omniscient, I can't say much about it. I just know that it's difficult!

  8. The second story begins 18 years after the first one ends, so no, not really. It would be impossible to converge them, which is why an omniscient POV is out of the question.

    I think it's unique in that sense -- a decision made by a mother in the '70s will make a huge impact on her daughter in the modern day. They stories are dependent on each other. :)

  9. Weronika: I love the sound of your idea! It sounds like an overarching framework would work best for a story like that. But I'm confused as to why an omniscient narrator wouldn't work? If the omniscient narrator is YOU then it would work. You're the storyteller after all, and time doesn't matter, right? Once again, I'm far from an expert on omniscient writing!

  10. Hmm. Now I'm not so sure why I said. I've always considered omniscient to be the POV you would use with a variety of different characters interacting in the same scene or time period -- around the same conflict.

    If I used omniscient in my story, it would be odd, because the time periods are so radically different that my voice would have to change to encompass the niches of the time period, wouldn't it? Both stories now are set in 1st person, present tense, in order to account for the voice, which I consider a huge defining factor in what the characters so approachable.

  11. Weronika: Omniscient simply means "All Knowing". That means you can have a different omniscient narrator for the different parts of your book, I guess. I don't think your voice would have to change at all. But that's just me. There's a lot that goes into POV and narrating.

    I think first person sounds like a fun choice to tell the story. I'm not sure an omniscient POV would even be necessary if you're dealing with mainly one character for both sections.

  12. Weronika: And by "your voice" in my last comment, I mean YOUR voice, not your character's voice. They are two separate things to me.

  13. Lady Glamis - the stories are all connected and follows the journey of five friends, plus a newcomer to their group. The reason I broke the book into two halfs was to focus on 3 perspectives per half, rather than trying to tell one story from six perspectives.

    And no, not everybody wins in the end. Some of the characters find happily ever after, and others don't. The story is really about the struggle between a perceived notion of happiness and the reality of happiness, which is often a semi-happily ever after.

    I also thought about the omniscent narrator, but I often get confused when reading such a narrative.

    If you want, I can email you the first chapter.


  14. Stop me if you've heard this before:

    It all depends on the execution.

    (Sound of many voices yelling stop)

    Dang. And I had so much more to say!

  15. Scott: Like Rick says below, it's all about the execution. Have you finished the book yet? Sometimes I have to finish before I can see if the execution worked or not, if each character is shining brilliantly and carrying the right amount of weight. Like baking a loaf of bread, I don't know if it works until I take that first bite!

    Rick: Oh, true! But vague at the same time... Care to expound?

  16. This is a fascinating post and comment section. I'm writing strictly in the POV of my MC. The only negative part is sometimes I struggle to release information she would not readily know.
    The opposite problem arises when an author withholds information that a POV character would know; for me, that is a huge trust-breaker (the subject of one of your earlier posts).
    I think voice is a major component of multiple POV. They must be distinctive or the reader is pulled out of the story, wondering who is speaking. One example of really good voice is Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus Trilogy. It's complicated how he pulls it off, and I think I need to go back and deconstruct that has a lesson.

  17. Tricia: I agree with you about the voice. I nailed it in my first novel with different voices, but as I say in the post, the POV didn't work. Urgh! I'm struggling with this in my second novel now - with the three different POVs it's been a little difficult to make them all unique. They are such different characters, though, that I think it's working pretty well. Sometimes it's just hard to see that when you're in the middle of it all. It will be a layer I work on once I'm finished with this draft.

    Keeping information from your reader when the character would readily know it is tricky. It's usually a matter of focus for me. If the POV character knows something I don't want my reader to know, I focus that character on something completely different so they have no reason to even think of that information I want to hide. I know that sounds stupid here completely out of context of any example, but it has worked so far. We'll see when my beta readers pick up the book. Haha!

  18. So, if I understand this right, it all depends on what the main thrust of the story is about... the theme. Right? If it's more about character development, then you wouldn't want multiple POVs. But if it's theme oriented, then mulitiple POVs might work, is that right?

  19. Amy: That's a part of it, but I think multiple POVs works with character frameworked stories as well. My second novel uses three POVs, and it's working so far. It certainly doesn't use an overarching framework.

    Since you write children's stories, as you said in your comment over on my blog, this all might be really confusing! It's easier to understand if you've tried writing both single POV and multiple POV and can see the challenges that both provide.

    Do understand, though, that multiple POVs doesn't mean multple Main Characters. Two of my POV characters are Secondary Main Characters who support the Main Character. If a story bears the same weight on different characters, then I think an overarching framework works best.

  20. Michelle: You make some good points here, especially that "main character" and "protagonist" are not necessarily the same. Stories can be told from the POV of multiple main characters ("Lord of the Rings" for example) but still only have a single protagonist (Frodo). Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying" is another good example of this, as is Salinger's "Franny and Zooey."

    Successful multi-strand stories, with more than one protagonist, also are out there. "War and Peace" is really two books in one, alternating seemingly at random. Bulgakov's "The Master and Margarita" may or may not have a "frame story" but it's hard to say which story is framing which. Iain Pears' "An Instance of the Fingerpost" is essentially the same story told sequentially by four different first-person narrators, each adding more information and a different spin to the events.

    I think the problem arises when people try to use the techniques of multiple POVs or multiple protagonists as a substitute for a solid story and workable dramatic structure. I also think that often people flesh out what's essentially mere back-story into a second storyline that just gets in the way of the real story.

  21. Lady Glamis - I'm in the final revision stage of eliminating words so I can market the book as a whole, and not as two separate books. From what my beta readers have said, the multiple perspec is working. I'm trusting them on this.

    I think my ultimate question to myself was . . . if this can be written from a single perspective, why not write it that way?

    There's a part of me that would love to do that, and then I check w/my beta readers and their response is always: leave it alone! So, I trust their opinions on that one, while secretly rewriting it from one perspective just for fun, even though I plan on querying the multi-perspective manuscript. I'm sneaky that way sometimes.


    p.s. great post and comments.

  22. Scott, you should do that! I'd be curious as to what you discover.

  23. Scott B. I love your comment, thank you! I knew you'd have some great examples for us. As you know from the model I sent for different role functions, I firmly believe that a Main Character can be different from a Main POV character, and both can be different from the Main "Action" Character. It's essential that the writer knows who is filling what function, and if one character is filling all those functions, then the writer needs to be aware of that and make it clear. Otherwise you run into the "substitute for a solid story" as you say. It gets to be a huge mess, which is exactly what happened with my first novel.

    Scott: My only concern is that you are doing what you KNOW is right for the story, not just relying on your beta reader's advice. I've done that and gone in wrong directions before. It's a dangerous balance of knowing what really works for the story and what our feedback suggests.

    For example, I think some of my readers for my first novel said they loved Karen's story and thought it worked really well for the story. Some of the readers said they hated her. I'm not sure if anybody suggested that I cut her out, but if they did, I didn't listen. I did what I thought was right for the story at the time. But I was also too close to it. Now that I've set it aside, I can look at it more objectively and make a good decision for what works best for the novel, not for ME or my readers, but the NOVEL. That's a hard distinction at times!

    In the end, have confidence that you're choosing the right way to tell you're story. It's one of the hardest things to learn as a writer!

  24. This is the kind of post I need to read periodically as it seems I'm always having trouble with this.

    My first novel I tried to write from 3 main characters and their 3 POVs, but now I'm thinking only one character is really the main character. It makes me sad, though, to rewrite the whole thing! I think this is because it was the first (and only) novel I'm completed.

    I consider Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections to be an effective use of multiple main characters and storylines. To me the overarching theme is dysfunctional family.

    I also think David Mitchell's Ghostwritten is told the same way, with many characters' separate stories, like 8 I think, and they're not even related, but somehow they are. I can't remember the theme anymore. It's been a long while since I've read it.

  25. Scott: I'm going to second Michelle's caution. Sometimes your beta readers are wrong, even if they're supporting decisions you've made about the book. If you have ideas about changes/fixes, then you have to trust yourself. Maybe the book is fine the way it is, but whenever I have ideas that can make something good even better, I go with it no matter what my trusted readers say about it, because I trust myself more.

  26. This is a great discussion and a very nice post, Michelle.

    A lot of great points have been made already, so I'm going to try to bring up some new ideas.

    First, sushi! Sushi almost always has an odd number of ingredients in it. That's because if you only have two, then eaters compare the two. They like the salmon but not the avocado, for example. But, if you have an odd number, that comparison happens less often. Eaters tend to look at it as a mix rather than as an opposition. I think the same thing can apply to stories. With two main characters, readers, like eaters, choose one over the other. With three or more, it's a different reaction.

    The second point is length. I think some people tend to like novels because they are longer, they allow a person to be immersed in a story rather than just getting their toe wet, like in a short story. That's why I personally like novels more than shorts. Given that, if a book has too many main characters, I'm never allowed to linger with one long enough to enjoy it. It feels like I'm reading a bunch of short stories instead of one long one.

    Having said that, I'm a fan of multiple POV. My story follows three "main" characters although I eventually brought one to the forefront because I thought his story was the most dramatic, as Michelle says.

  27. Davin: Now I want sushi! What a great point you make. It's a perfect comparison for what we're discussing. I think that might have been the reason why my first novel didn't work so well, either - because of the two main characters. Neither of them is extremely likable at the beginning, so of course Karen gets the boot. She's the selfish mother after all, and her story isn't nearly as exciting as Naomi's. At least from a certain perspective.

    I think your comment about length is the reason I get concerned about so many POV characters in certain novels. For LOTR there are many POVs, but (1) the story is a loooong epic, and (2) it's clear who the main protagonist is, even when he's not present for huge chunks of the book. There's room to do that. Also, if a book is intended to be a series, I feel that more POV characters can work.

    Thanks for a great comment and good lunch idea. Sadly, there are no sushi places within walking distance here. Or in my price range. A girl can dream!

  28. Of course I care to expound, glad you asked ;-)

    First, I think there is a difference between multiple points of view and multiple main characters and/or story lines.

    In both of my works in progress, I divide the manuscript into numerous scenes. Each scene is told from a specific character's POV. A chapter may be made up of several scenes. In a few select instances, the same scene is told from the points of view of more than one character. This effect is used very sparingly.

    That being said, all points of view are third person limited. I don't switch from first person to third or anything like that (although I have read novels where that was done effectively).

    I have three dominant characters. My protagonist, the antagonist, and the person who is helping the protagonist. The protagonist is still the main character.

    My novel FATE'S GUARDIAN has characters that have reincarnated. The primary story is the present struggle between the dominant characters, but the secondary story of a past life they all shared is woven into the narrative. I do it in tandem to the present day story, i.e. when the protagonist is young, I tell of the younger days for the past life of the antagonist. When my protagonist is older and falling in love, I tell about the past life love story that includes all three characters. The past has a very different outcome, so that section starts on similar paths but they diverge.

    Right now I'm reading NEXT by Michael Crichton. I'm more than halfway through with it and I can't tell you who the main character is. There are multiple story lines, and I have a feeling they will all converge, but at times I struggle to remember who the heck so-and-so is. It's a pretty confusing read from that perspective.

  29. Rick: Thank you for expounding! It sounds like you and I write very similar story-structure wise. I also have 3 POV characters, I weave in backstory, and I tell the story in 3rd person limited. I only share POV characters within a chapter once, though, and that's the last one.

    Crichton is generally that way from what I've read of his work. It all does come together, though, but it's not my preferred style to confuse the heck out of the reader and make them feel like they have to keep a list just to keep track of things. Although I think War and Peace comes to mind... and a few other classics. Oh well.

  30. Annie: Thank you for those examples! Wow, so you're going to rewrite the whole book? Trust me, I know what a huge undertaking that is! So was it this post that spurred your decision or have you been considering that for awhile?

  31. In my WIP, I alternate chapters. For me, the most important thing was to have two MCs with different goals, but whose goals interacted with each other. By that I mean, they both had different goals, but they both had to work together to make each separate goal come true.

  32. Thanks Michelle for posting this and to all who’ve commented. I’m having my own POV crisis at the moment so this comes at the perfect time.

    This may sound like Captain Obvious but having a good story is a waste if you can’t tell it properly.

  33. Charlie: Captain Obvious should be quoted often. As should the corollary: fancy writing won't save a bad story.

  34. What a great response and dialogue in the comments! This has been very helpful already.

    In my current project, I'm working with more than one POV character. It was nice to have a reminder that a POV character does not necessarily denote a "main" character. Thanks, Scott Bailey, for the LOTR example.

    I've got two characters that could be the main, but as I've been writing, I found out don't like the one I originally thought would be the main as much as I like the other, who is essentially an escaped convict. It's not that the first guy is a bad character; he's just kind of a slob and I wouldn't want to be friends with him. At least, not at first. I figure that the readers will likely stick with the convict both because he is introduced first and he is initially more likable than the other fellow.

  35. Side note: George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books get you intimately close to about a dozen characters who phase in and out of being "main." He does it well, but his books are, like, 1,200 pages long.

  36. Wow, great post. I have that tendency to fall in love with the first MC I run into... so I struggle with multiple MC's. I'm not tempted to write them, but this is really interesting.

  37. Beth: I usually stick with the alternating chapters as well. Your description sounds like a great way to have to two MCs working together!

    Charlie: Oh no! I hope your crisis isn't too severe, and I hope the discussion here has helped. I think a POV problem in a novel is one of the worst you can have. It usually requires extensive revision or rewriting altogether.

    Christopher: Ah, so you're in the middle of trying to decide which is which, huh? Just be careful with who you choose based on which one you like more. Do you plan on making revisions based on your decision? In my second novel I had two secondary characters that I made into one character. Talk about moving stuff around! So that's why I'm rewriting instead of revising.

    Good luck, and thanks again for your question.

    Jenn: Lucky that you're not tempted to write them. It really complicates things as you can see!

  38. Excellent post. I have four POV characters in my WIP, but the story is really all about Shar, the heroine.

    Lynnette Labelle

  39. Lynette: Wow, four! That's would be hard for me. Three is a lot for me. I might like to do four at some point, and my next idea for a book might include 6 or more, but for a very specific reason so I think it would work well. Good luck! I'll bet it's great. :)

  40. Hmph. I just realized that, like always, I have chosen to pick the most complicated execution-this now applying to my first novel.

    -epic fantasy

    -first of a trilogy (not trying to be cliche, I just really like the beginning, middle and end format)that can in no way be classed as a self-contained story since it ends with a cliff-hanger.

    -only TWO points of view/main characters, one male, one female

    -four secondary characters (one of which becomes a main character when one of my MC's, ahem, bites it at the end of the first book)

    -a dreaded prologue (haha, had to throw that in there)

    I know. What have I gotten myself into? *deflates*

  41. Morgan: You gave away the ending of your first book! Good for you. I think your format looks like it works nicely. Is this your first book/series?

  42. Great post! I agree that multiple POV's doesn't mean multiple main characters. A reader desperately wants to identify with a character and a storyline. I think they'll easily identify with a few characters if they share a storyline, but the reader won't care as much about a book with several distinct storylines and characters.

  43. Great post! I have bee wrestling with this a little myslef as I work on my current WiP and try to decide the best wat to tell the story. Nice job!!!

  44. Jill: I think that in the hands of a skilled artist like Amy Tan, the reader can care for the characters as much as in one storyline, but I know I couldn't pull that off right now in my writing career!

    I like your point, though, that readers are usually fine caring about more than one MC if they share the same storyline. Didn't think of it exactly like that before.

    Christine: Thanks you! I wish you luck. This is a huge, tough decision for any writer.

  45. Lady Glamis: I debated whether to add that little extra bit of information and decided that it probably wouldn't hurt. Unless one of you becomes one of my beta readers...then there is that anticipation. At least I left out who it is and how it happens :)

    I haven't even written that scene yet, but I still get tears in my eyes thinking about it. It is actually the climax of that first book and I wonder how readers will react to it. They may hate me :(

    It is nice to hear that you think the format works nicely. Yay! Yes, this is my first novel. I didn't mean for it to be a series, but as suiting my personality, of course I went epic. It has taken me about two years to come up with the theme, plot and characters. Over the last year I have found my voice, or rather, my two MC's voices, by rewriting the first five chapters at least ten times. What a process!

  46. Morgan: Wow, so you're a planning girl! I really admire that. If you're getting tears over that scene now, you're probably going to be emotionally tortured when you actually write it. I've heard the reader only gets 10% of the emotion that the writer actually felt when writing the scene, so I can't imagine what you'll go through if that scene works!

  47. I've heard the reader only gets 10% of the emotion that the writer actually felt when writing the scene.

    Oh my gosh! This makes me wonder how some authors survived the writing of their books.

    I'm still not sure if I'll rewrite my whole first novel. I may just abandon it as is. I've been thinking about doing that since I read it about 5 months ago and realized what was actually happening in the book.

  48. Annie: I know! Can you imagine what Stephen King goes through???

  49. I was introduced to Lit Lab by Tricia O'Brien, who commented on my post (more just some casual musings)on POV.

    Your post is really helpful. And timely for me. I am working on a new YA that currently has two MCs who deal with guilt in two different, yet equally unhealthy manners. It would be very interesting for me to find out just whose story it really is as I work on the first draft. Or if it is truly both their stories, and if so, I sure hope I have the skill to pull it off.

    (BTW, I love just how interactive and civil this blog is. I'll be back!)

  50. Yat-Yee: So glad you stopped by! And I'm glad this post was helpful for you. Coming from experience, I know how hard it is to pull off two separate stories. But from what I've seen, if the stories converge for most of the book, it's usually one character's story overshadowing another.

    Either way, I wish you luck in figuring yours out. Every story is unique, and I firmly believe a skilled writer can pull off most things that "break the rules of convention".

    Hope to see you back!

  51. Thanks for this post. You saved me some writing time.


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