I have an idea for a novel that is told from two, first person viewpoints. One of these viewpoints would be Character 1's and take place in her past, and the other viewpoint would be Character 2's, which would take place in the present as Character 2 falls for Character 1. I would love some feedback on whether or not this plot would be weirdly constructed or difficult to follow. Thanks!

  • Is there one or two timelines? Would C1 and C2 viewpoints describe the same events (one as happening in present, another in the past), or C1 would be reflecting on something that happened years before C2 fell for him/her? – Alexander Jan 19 '17 at 20:23
  • @Alexander C1 is speaking about the past—before C2 fell for her, that is. The two characters would be describing completely separate events. – pbjtoast Jan 19 '17 at 20:32
  • Something similar was done in "Exit to Eden" by Anne Rice. She used two alternating first person narrators throughout the book. In her case, there wasn't the idea of timeline switching as well, but on the surface, having two first person narrators can definitely work. – Roger Jan 19 '17 at 20:39
  • Isn't this essentially the structure of the current TV show This Is Us, but with parents and kids? – Lauren Ipsum Jan 19 '17 at 20:56
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    @LaurenIpsum Oh I see what you mean, yeah. The structure I'm thinking of is really similar. Nice to know that someone has executed it successfully! – pbjtoast Jan 19 '17 at 23:54

It had been done before, and it had been done well. The juxtaposition of the two contrasting viewpoints can be challenging to pull off (regardless of the specifics: first person, third limited, etc.), but it has its rewards also. Give it a try, I am a fan already.


Yes, it can be done. But I would think twice about it. A novel should be about telling a story. It should not be about seeing if you can pull off an unconventional storytelling technique.

People read novel for stories, not for technique. Generally speaking you should use the most straightforward and conventional technique that you can to tell the story you want to tell. Only if you can't tell you story effectively using a conventional approach should you use an alternative technique, and then only to the extent needed to tell the story, never for the sake of the technique itself.

Many aspiring novelists get obsessed with technique and with the felt need to do something original. These are traps for the unwary. This is not what people want. They want stories. They want good stories honestly and plainly told. Focus on that.


This sounds a lot like the way the movie "The Lake House" works? If you haven't watched it, I would suggest you do. Although the movie is done quite well to begin with, it gets rather complicated toward the end, and I somehow always manage to get confused.

I think you can achieve almost anything in writing, but you need to really go slow and think carefully about how to do this.

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