Friday, June 3, 2011

Viewpoint

I'm writing along last night and bam! Roadblock. End of chapter.

Now what? I've been comfortably settled in Gavran's head for a while. Feels natural. Do I stay there or jump to Shah, my psyonic? Readers might enjoy her empathic perspective.

"Who tells the story?" It may be the first decision a writer makes, right after "What story do I tell?"

In Star of Justice, all views are Caissa's, except for a tiny bit with Merritt at the end. In Elementals, four people share storytelling duty, and I forced myself to add Spidraax for balance. I mean, Cahnar got some head time, why not the other guy?

I've written from four viewpoints so far in Past Ties, with the likelihood of an additional two or three.
Why does this matter?

First, viewpoint determines what information gets shared. If that character doesn't know it, the reader doesn't, either. This leads to the question "Does any character have information that must be shared or cannot be shared yet?"

Second, some viewpoints are more fun to write. This is entirely dependent on what the author perceives as fun, but I have noticed a resistance when I try to write as certain characters. I'm guessing this happens to other writers, too. 

Of course, each character has a unique perspective. Some have special ways to process the world, like the psyonic Shah whose talent allows her to see past and future snippets of people's lives. That must be considered when deciding who tells what best.

Some readers don't like multiple viewpoints. I don't mind them, as long as the reason for switching is sound and obvious. On the other hand, I prefer getting to know one or two characters deeply rather than ten on a surface level. That's smacking of a short story or anthology and those annoy me.

I don't know that I have a reason to switch at the moment, so I'll try staying in Gavran's head. I can always rewrite later.

I hope this book is worth all the trouble, but I fear the only lesson I will take from it is when to quit.

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