Two Characters Talking In My Head - One Novel

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DMM86
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Two Characters Talking In My Head - One Novel

Post by DMM86 » June 4th, 2012, 11:48 pm

I was hoping to get some advice on a dilemma that I have been having with my work-in-progress YA novel. I have been writing this novel for over a year now (time is an issue with me) and the more I write, the more my main character's best friend finds a way to "speak" to me. I often find myself thinking and seeing things through her eyes and it is clear that she wants her voice to be heard. This would be all well and good except that my novel is written in first person and my third person skills aren't all that strong. Has anyone else ever had this problem, and if so, what did you do?

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klbritt
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Re: Two Characters Talking In My Head - One Novel

Post by klbritt » June 5th, 2012, 12:11 am

I read a series of novels recently that had multiple first person point of views. Each person had their own heading (either it was the entire chapter dedicated to that person, or occasionally there were mulitple headings in the chapter) when it was their turn to take over the story.

Maggie Stiefvater's "Shiver," "Linger," and "Forever" series are fun quick reads that are great examples of what you are talking about.

Here are a couple examples:

Chapter One: Grace
I remember lying in the snow....

Chapter Two: Sam
They snatched the girl off her tire swing...

Sometimes the chapter starts - Chapter 6: Grace .... then after her thoughts are over it switches to Sam...or other characters as the series progresses.

Another great example of Multiple First Person POV is the George R.R. Martin "Game of Thrones" series!

Good luck, enjoy!
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polymath
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Re: Two Characters Talking In My Head - One Novel

Post by polymath » June 5th, 2012, 1:15 pm

Young adult readers generally prefer one viewpoint character. Two challenges their reading and comprehension skills, which can be beneficial, but outside their comfort zone. Multiple viewpoint character narratives are also challenging to write.

The question I have is this: Is the first-person narrator-protagonist the one to report the narrative? Or is the friend the one? Making that change could solve the dilemma. One way to resolve the question is to ask and answer who's most central to the action, what's that persona's role: observer, protagonist, or other. A protagonist is a character who's most influenced by a dramatic complication, the conerstone of a plot, which is a major problem wanting satsifaction: problem and want. Then who's the one with the most dramatic complication, who's most transformed by the dramatic action.

For example, Katniss in Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games is observer, first-person narrator, and protagonist and most central to the action and most transformed by the action. Keeta [Peeta] is a distant deuteragonist, also central at times to the main action, also transformed by the action but not as much as Katniss. His thoughts are largely given verbally or from his expressions and gestures Katniss observes or speculates upon. His speech is given, of course, in dialogue or conversation mode, direct discourse, and at times in indirect discourse Katniss reports. Two character voices, in other words. Keeta's {Peeta's] voice mediated through Katniss'.
Last edited by polymath on June 7th, 2012, 1:07 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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writersink
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Re: Two Characters Talking In My Head - One Novel

Post by writersink » June 7th, 2012, 8:16 am

Haha Polymath, do you mean Peeta?

I've read loads of YA books with multiple points of view. Some of them are really good. It is down to your ability as a writer, and whether you feel comfortable with multiple POVs.

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polymath
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Re: Two Characters Talking In My Head - One Novel

Post by polymath » June 7th, 2012, 11:13 am

Yes. I guess Peeta is not as memorable to me as Katniss. Her name is memorable from Gale first hearing it as catnip. Excellent character development feature of Katniss and Gale from that.
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Re: Two Characters Talking In My Head - One Novel

Post by Sommer Leigh » June 7th, 2012, 12:42 pm

Multiple protagonists are becoming quite popular in YA and I suspect we'll see more of that as we go forward. I'm hearing from librarian friends that the multiple progags who are boy/girl pairings are easier to sell to boy and girl readers.

However, and this is a big, neon flashing lights however, there needs to be a good reason for the multiple points of view. There needs to be a reason both characters are telling this story and they need to have equal and well defined plot lines for both that some how speak to each other. You don't want to add a second point of view because they happen to have a good view point to things. Both characters need to be equally weighted - one cannot be the obvious favorite to the story. Always with multiple points of view you run the risk that readers will prefer one character to the other and will hate and skim the chapters written by the other character. This is very hard to pull off, though incredibly successful if you can. Legend by Marie Lu did an exceptional job telling one story through the eyes of two separate characters.

And of course, the exception. There are exceptions to this rule in which a story is told primarily from one character but other first person points of view butt their way in from time to time, but is not necessarily a protagonist. And sometimes this works, especially if the type of story you're telling lends itself well to that sort of head hopping. I'm thinking The Rules of Attraction by Brett Easton Ellis did this very, very well. I can't think of any YA off the top of my head that does this well. I can tell you Twilight, especially the 4th book, does this very, very, very poorly. That's not a commentary on the series itself, I mean that we get random interjections of first person narratives by other characters primarily because Bella's storyline stops being very interesting to follow during the pregnancy months. Jumping heads because the main character gets boring or can't be at a place where interesting things are happening is a bad reason to do it and means there's something wrong with your main character's storyline. On the flip side, I always believed the 7th Harry Potter book would have been a lot more fun to read if we knew what was happening with the students still at Hogwarts.

My advice is to go back and look at your outline and decide if the story can genuinly be told through the eyes of two characters, if the story benefits from two protagonists, or if you just have a couple of cool ideas brought to you by another character. If the story doesn't benefit from it, you can always write short stories through the other character's point of view and offer them up on your website when you publish. That's always a cool option.
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Re: Two Characters Talking In My Head - One Novel

Post by Mira » June 9th, 2012, 4:20 pm

I like what other people said here, but I had another thought.

What about the sequel?

Maybe this first book is through one person's eyes, but maybe the friend is telling you she has her own story to share...

Just another direction to go.

I always think it's good to trust your instincts. Good luck! :)

DMM86
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Re: Two Characters Talking In My Head - One Novel

Post by DMM86 » June 13th, 2012, 11:44 pm

Thank you for the advice. You have given me a lot to think about. :)

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