0

A lot of my procrastination in writing my story is coming from anxiety over making the finished product come from one "head." I have perspectives from a couple first persons, and some 3P Deep parts with no observer, that want to come together into this story.

I have been beating myself up over deciding "who is telling this part" to the point that the story is not getting down to paper.

I am at the point where I just want to get the story out, in the way that builds the intended arcs, and worry about the narrator after the fact.

For example,

Chap. 1

It wasn't the weather, or the age of the plane that would be bringing this story into our history books. No, It was nothing more complicated than a 5 millimeter grease fitting. It was clogged with dirt, so there would be no lubrication to one critical bearing. How ironic.

Chap. 2

I found myself drifting along the river, wet and cold, clinging to that log. What ever became of my good friend I may never know.

"Help!" I cried out with what little energy I had. It may not be enough. My mind raced over being lost and forgotten. Over never being found. Over my family never knowing where I am. Over never knowing why.

Chap. 3

"Officers, we have a witness over here. They said they were driving down 64 and saw a plane coming down. It was trailing black smoke."

The tall sheriff held up her hand to stay her partner, "How many were in the car?"

"There are two of them. Husband and wife, she saw it first and pointed it out while the husband was driving."

"Do me a favor and run their tag, would you?"

"Sheriff?"

"There may be more to this than meets the eye."

Just leaving this as is, it becomes the author's story, compiled by whatever resources (s)he had. I prefer wrapping a book into some singular in-world narrator however. In the example case, perhaps a forensic investigator was compiling a report and created the story from interviews, diaries, personal investigation, etc., which became the final compilation (I am certain there is writer's jargon for what I mean but I don't know it).

My question is about the difficulty of "wrapping" your story into an in-world narrator like this. To me, the story seems to flow out very naturally if I just hop around the different POVs as they fall into the plot; whereas taking Chap. 2 for example, and making it a diary entry acquired by the investigator/narrator could be done either in real-time or at the end as a "clean-up" step.

All else being equal, is it more work to maintain a consistent narrator focus during storytelling, or to integrate your POV shifts under a consistent narrator as a clean-up step?

4
  • "I have perspectives from a couple first persons, and some 3P" - I have a fear that this can be a mess. Related: How to switch between characters in a first person story?
    – Alexander
    Mar 28, 2022 at 17:41
  • @Alexander Not really, like Stoker shifts from Jonathan Harker’s journal, to Mina’s letters, to Dr. Seward’s Diary, newspaper clipping, etc., all compiled by Harker in Dracula. Ultimately you’re reading “Jonathan Harker’s” book rather than Bram Stoker’s. World War Z and The Color Purple also do this. Stephen King hops around a lot in The Stand.
    – Vogon Poet
    Mar 28, 2022 at 19:20
  • I'm not saying it's impossible, just very difficult to give the reader an unobstructed view.
    – Alexander
    Mar 28, 2022 at 20:17
  • @Alexander OK revise my last: The Stand is technically broken into three “books” within the immense novel and I think he stays in 3rd omniscient covering different stories. But like you said, there should be one unobstructed “head” the reader is looking through. My question’s not about how to switch, but where in the writing process you build the switches in. Would be great if all stories laid down linearly the first try!
    – Vogon Poet
    Mar 28, 2022 at 21:32

2 Answers 2

1

I don't think it is unusual for every chapter to contain a different POV; I would just write it that way.

You just need to be religious about it; make sure the reader somehow knows, by the chapter title, or a subhead, exactly who is telling the story from the first line of the chapter.

Chapter 7

Susan's Journey to Seattle

Or something like that.

Readers can keep track of multiple POVs, it just gets confusing when you try to mix them and be in the heads of Susan, Mark and Little Billy all at the same time. Pick a POV and stick with it. If it is Susan, and Mark and Little Billy make an appearance, then you stay out of their heads; Susan cannot read minds.

If is important to reveal Mark's thoughts about his encounter with Susan, then reveal that in his chapter.

"I wish I could have told her David is dead, I just couldn't, not in front of Little Billy."

You mention The Stand, but King stays pretty religiously in one and only one POV at a time. Do that.

I believe he also writes in the third-person limited; which I prefer; I hate books written in first person. It is also easier to introduce the POV character in 3PL, the narrator just references them in the first line of the chapter:

Susan stands at the gate for her flight.

This is it, honey, if you get on this plane you can't come back.

Stuff like that.

1

Write the way you find natural.

It may turn out that you find revising that so much more work that you do not try it again, but it is impossible to know whether it works for you until you try it. And if it does work, you have an easier way to write.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.