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Wondering if anyone with great wisdom can help me...

I have 2 problems really that have pretty much stopped me writing anything decent for a few weeks. I'm on my first ever novel and have no experience with writing apart from trawling the internet for advice and articles.

1) I feel my story will span over a few books because there is so much to tell. So I don't really want to "present" my antagonist until near the end of the first novel. Instead she tricks another character into doing her bidding as the world she wants to take control of is protected from her, but only for now.

However, as I write I'm finding the antagonist's story goal less than intriguing and if I'm honest very samey and cliché in comparison to so many other stories: She wants to destroy the institution for what happened to her as a child as payback. Now, one of the MCs will ironically share this passion to destroy the status quo, or at least part of it after what she goes through herself so I think that's a decent link there. However, the antag has to murder the last living heir in order to take full control of a state that has wronged her so she can run it better.

2) This is the "In over my head" part: I have a good few characters who are geographically separated throughout the story. I have been writing the chapters as multiple POV's (Every chapter sees a diff POV - like GRRMartin) I'm just wondering if this is ridiculous to try and manage for my first ever book?

I have no prior writing experience but now that I've been mulling this over for over two years, writing bits here and there, it's like I owe it to the book and myself to finish it now. There's no question, I have to finish it.

I really don't think I can write it any other way other than using multiple POVs. It seems to be working fine up until the point where I suddenly realised my antagonist's goals started to feel flat and boring. (See point 1 above) I want her to be feared tremendously, with an air of mystery what with not been seen in years etc. and I don't want to write her POV as to give away what she is thinking etc but there are at least five to six other characters that are or will be linked together. This seems like a good sign to me although they are not linked together by the antagonist but will turn out to be.

So I suppose my two questions boil down to: Is there possibly a way to spice up my antagonist's goal? I have her backstory tucked away in the corner of my brain somewhere but I think revenge has just been done to death at this stage or am I being too hard on myself?

And

Am I being completely crazy to attempt multiple POVs on my first novel?

If anyone has any advice I'd really appreciate it.

Thank you very much!!

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    Crazy? No. There's no reason you can't do multiple PoVs for your first novel. That being said, I wouldn't recommend it unless you feel like you know what you are doing. Search on this site for how to write multiple PoVs. Do you agree with the answers? If you disagree, can you explain why clearly? If the answer to either question is yes, then I would say you are plenty qualified to write multiple PoVs. It comes down to confidence in your ability. – Thomas Myron Aug 25 '17 at 22:00
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Don't spice up the goal, spice up the antagonist. Pinky and the Brain had the same goal every week: to take over the world! It mattered not a whit. It was just an excuse for mousy mayhem. Taking over the world is just a McGuffin, the thing everyone wants that provides the impetus for the plot.

It does not matter what the MacGuffin is. It is what the characters are willing to do, or not willing to do, to get their hands on it. In Casablanca we are asked to believe that there are a pair of magic passes that the local Nazi authorities cannot cancel, even with a known resistance organizer walks out to the plane. It is an absurd conceit, and it doesn't matter, because what really matters is whether or not Rick is going to stand by his word that he does not stick his neck out for anybody. What choice will he make? It is the heart of the story. It is the heart of every story.

What is the moral question that your protagonist and your antagonist must face? All of your plot should be about forcing them to face that question. Often new writers invent a ton of fake history with no real idea of what story it is supposed to support. And then at a certain point they realize that their characters and their motivations are not very convincing or interesting. And that is because they started from the wrong end of the problem.

All stories are moral. The are all about a choice of values, both for the protagonist and the antagonist. Everything else is a McGuffin.

  • Thank you very much. And you are totally right. It's the character that I need to work on more. I can literally picture her but evidently not much else only frail backstory. – DOC2017 Aug 23 '17 at 21:56
  • Or — if I may provide a more worldbuilding–esque perspective on the Casablanca example: something unexplained does matter, but so long most possible explanations do not disturb the rhythm of the story, then they aren't significant to the narration. Also, people are people, and sometimes even Nazis have a heart; additionally, many will tend to add a slightly supernatural hint to such occurrences in a story — even if only implicitly: ‘Someone up there must like me.’ – can-ned_food Oct 9 '17 at 4:28
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You can use a sidekick as the POV for your genius villain. Think of Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes; by Arthur Conan Doyle. Doyle's stories are ruined if told from the POV of Sherlock alone, but compelling if told from the POV of Watson, because Watson can't tell us what is going on inside of Sherlock's head.

Your villain has minions, taking orders. Promote one to the post of Minion In Charge Of Minions (MICOM); and from MICOM's POV you can relate what is happening; something about the plans and jeopardy being created. This can create concern for the heroes, or anticipation if it becomes clear the heroes have an edge the villain does not know about; etc. All without revealing the whole plan or mind of the villain. But of course the villain can drop clues to the MICOM and share details. Make that MICOM:Villain relationship as intimate or distant as your story needs it to be.

B) Multiple POV (MPOV) is fine, but you do have writing mechanics to consider when using it; in deciding when to switch POV. MPOV will seem to the reader to imply a timeline; either "Meanwhile," or subsequent.

You do not have to switch POV like clockwork; that wastes some of the utility. Characters in uneventful travel across the world do not need to be visited "in turn" every time. from your God's Eye View of the story as a whole, MPOV is useful because of all the story threads in your weave, you can pick the one most interesting, and talk about that POV next; while letting other threads progress without explicit description.

The primary difficulty with MPOV, in my view, is what to do when two POV collide: Alex and Beth, both POV characters, come face to face: Whose POV dominates the crucial exchanges? (Of bullets, information, bodily fluids, or whatever they meet to do.)

Or two POV remain separate but meet turning points in their threads at the same time? (You may be able to invent a problem to delay one by a chapter).

But MPOV does let you have one POV character make progress on some aspect of their goals while your focus is on others. You don't have to invent all kinds of minor problems and dialogue to hold the reader's interest while Cindy works at her office job, or lies in bed for a month recovering from her gunshot wounds. The reader (or viewer) presumes if the character is off screen they are continuing to do whatever they planned, without any plot-changing difficulties; or they are still doing what they were last seen doing, living their life without important incident.

So as an author, you can "skip ahead" to the turning point. I bring this up to address your problem about flatness: Anytime you switch to Character X POV, it should be a turning point in their story, something must change that puts them on a new course, or wakes them up, or has an emotional impact (positive or negative).

It is boring to read about John and Karen having a peaceful domestic life in Chapter 5, and then in Chapter 10 we come back to them --- having the same peaceful domestic life but this time John broke his favorite coffee cup.

Oh. The horror.

  • What? John broke his favourite coffee cup? Not the one that says "Ask me tomorrow!" surely? Thanks for the advice! Much appreciated. – DOC2017 Aug 24 '17 at 13:19

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