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I'm writing a novel. At 56k words, I've become a little nervous about how I've been building the story.

BACKGROUND:

I started this book with the introduction of the main character, Jules and a brief introduction to the major character Derek.

The second chapter introduces a major character, Loren.

The third chapter introduces a major character, Kale.

From then on, I cycle through all four until I reach a point where they all finally come together. They do actually cross paths. I wanted them to have a very close and connected story line. It's just a fun sort of thing for the reader.

Jules meets Loren by chapter 5.

Derek finds Kale by chapter 8.

All four of them are brought together by chapter 10.

They stay together until chapter 13, where they split up in pairs to accomplish two tasks.

This is when the major plot comes calling and chaos (so to speak) is unleashed.

When split up, I've focused mostly on Jules as he faces the antagonist and ultimately stops them. This is worded poorly.

Most of the resolution of the conflict occurs in Jules' scenes (with Loren and a minor character). The others are not forgotten or abandoned. One is injured, but they have a chapter of what happens during the same time that Jules is working to end the chaos.

Please don't worry about my plot so much as the question below. This is only the first draft.

ACTUAL QUESTION:

From a publisher's standpoint and a reader's standpoint, assuming that the story is compelling and the ideas are interesting:

Is it acceptable to break the story up into POVs to show how their stories all tie together?

In other words, will a publisher want to publish the novel and will the reader want to read it?

  • Regardless of POV approach, do I understand it correctly that you want to start with multiple storylines that would converge together later? – Alexander Apr 4 '18 at 23:43
  • @Alexander Yes, you do. They converge, and separate, and converge again. – Loren Archer Apr 4 '18 at 23:48
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    So, kind of like Game of Thrones, or Wheel of Time, or the Storm Light Archives, or any other novel/series with multiple POVs. – Thomo Apr 4 '18 at 23:59
  • @Thomo - perhaps only Storm Light Archives is a truly relevant example. The other two are examples of DIVERGING (not converging) POVs. – Alexander Apr 5 '18 at 0:02
  • @Alexander - with all respect, I disagree entirely. The plot evolves as the story continues, Stormlight is just merely more succinct as fits the smaller format. Multiple POV's weave in and out around key points and you often see the same thing from different POV's (or at least referenced); WoT definitely has multiple examples of convergence. The Malazan Book of the Fallen is also another great example of multiple POV's dealing with the same event/story. – Thomo Apr 5 '18 at 1:38
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It is fine to do that, many authors do that. However, the question the reader will have is what happened to the other two characters? You made them prominent in the beginning, getting equal time for all, now they are sidelined while one guy finishes the story ... You have wasted my time talking about those two.

At least that is how it sounds from your description. Don't they have a job to do? Why aren't they involved in this to the end? Your story would have more suspense if you still gave them equal time, and a job to do that at least contributes to Jules finally winning, instead of making it all a one-man show.

The publisher only cares if the reader's will be satisfied enough to recommend the book to others, she wants to make sales to pay her rent. So they will not be interested if you don't keep your "promise" to the reader. The beginning of the book "promises" (indirectly) to the reader that all four characters are equally involved or responsible for the outcome, (be they heroes or villains), and it sounds to me like you break that promise after the split up.

Perhaps you fell in love with Jules and decided to give him all the responsibility. Fall out of love and make him need the help of his friends, even if it is Jules that delivers the final blow.

  • I totally get what you're saying! It's not so much I chose to not say anything about the other two, more that I made them unavailable to help. Oops, didn't mean to end it there lol. One of them gets injured while trying to come help, the other sticks by to make sure they don't get killed when they are unable to really help themselves. – Loren Archer Apr 4 '18 at 23:40
  • I don't know if that's a cop-out? But I think, in the end, Jules isn't really a hero. He just forced the issue to achieve his own goals, and another major character was forced to take action. It's really hard to describe, but I'll take a closer look to make sure I haven't fallen too much in love with Jules. – Loren Archer Apr 4 '18 at 23:44
  • Then to me at least, this is not a satisfying story. The early focus on the ":other two" means they should be involved throughout, not ditched halfway through the book. They look like just filler to make the book longer and unrelated to the story if they vanish halfway through. – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Apr 4 '18 at 23:58
  • Well, they don't just vanish. It's hard to say without you knowing the plot and the rest of the story. They are constant in the story. They get a chapter about their task, their tasks fails and reveals a greater problem. They rush to get back to Jules and Loren but crash a ship and barely escape with their lives. Jules finds them in his chapter, they talk, and Jules leaves to end the conflict before more harm can be done. They re-appear, but the conflict occurs mostly in Jules' perspective because they are helping the citizens. I do appreciate your suggestions, I will keep them in mind. – Loren Archer Apr 5 '18 at 0:14
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What you are describing is quite acceptable. G.R.R. Martin uses this method in "Song of Ice and Fire", with many many more characters: each chapter follows a different POV character, with 7+ POV characters per book. Another example would be Diana Wynne Jones's "The Merlin Conspiracy", alternating between two POV characters, or Michael Ende's "Neverending Story", again alternating between two POVs, in many publications also using different text colours for the two.

  • So I did realize that after posting (lol), and my concern is that George is a fabulous writer. I am not at his level at all. I actually read something about how multi-perspective stories could be refused by publishers just based on the premise of having a difficult time connecting with the main character. I guess that's really what I wanted to ask. :P – Loren Archer Apr 4 '18 at 23:46
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Of course. Yes. All the time.

One advantage of this approach is that the reader can (almost) always know more that the point of view character.

Another advantage is the ability to explore a complex issue from multiple sides. Imagine your POV alternating with that of whomever you imagine to be your worst nightmare.

  • Oh, that's a great point. I think I just kind of got insecure at the thought that the reader wouldn't be able to empathize with the characters well enough from all the jumping around. – Loren Archer Apr 4 '18 at 23:54
  • Empathizing has to do with how well we connect with each. (I best love a non-POV character in my story. She just forced herself into my heart.) But, my 2 POV characters - or your 4 POV characters - to get the reader to love them - make it clear what each character wants. Do that in some subtle way, early on. What is their reason for living, for telling this story? – DPT Apr 5 '18 at 0:00

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