Stealing from my Inbox.

Some other writer friends and I recently took on the topic of number of main characters in books, whether multiple main characters were a good idea in general, or if that was the kind of thing someone really had to have a gift for in or to pull it off.  Here's what I wrote about it.

As for viewpoints, I'm with Phi* and this reader person, if for no other reason, as a reader I am extremely loyal to the first character I identify with. If there are two potential (good guy) heroes, I root for the first one, and I invest myself in him wholly, resenting any intrusion on my hopes for him. I'm like this with pretty much all story-related things; books, movies, actors portraying characters.

As for WRITING viewpoints, multiple or otherwise, it's weird, but I look at it like a video game. A good game doesn't just have the game-play itself (the fighting, strategizing, reaching a goal, etc), or just one storyline. A really pleasurable game has one main storyline or plot and several (sometimes optional, sometimes not) "side quests". Now, the idea of a secondary storyline, or side story, isn't new, but done well, with connective tissue with the main storyline, it works brilliantly for the making of a full-bodied, wholly immersive** tale, which is something you want, either as a player or a reader.

I enjoy writing this way. I enjoy large casts whose stories--either as the main impetus or a sideline--carry over through multiple books. Not everyone in the 'cast' will have a huge amount of screen-time, but their every interaction should do one of two things: make something happen, or make more sense of something that has already happened.

Writing in first person, it's very clear who the 'main" character is, who her love interest is, and the tier-style of importance of each supporting character. Joss isn't only the main character of the Dionadir books, but she is also the filter through whom we understand the books' world and populace.

And that's pretty much how I feel about structure regarding emphasis on characters and viewpoint. It's kind of a shading system; You have your darkest lines, your main character, but you need entire gradients to create an accurate perception of someone or something.

* Phillipa Fioretti, author of The Book of Love, out now, and the upcoming  The Fragment of Dreams.

** Apparently, I've made up my own word, here. Please take note and add it to your dictionaries, digital, mental, and paperback Webster's, if you've got one. *grin*


Robb said...

Nope, 'immersive' is a real word. Pertaining to immersion.

Amethyst Greye Alexander said...

Darn, and there I was hoping to be original. I knew I was smarter than the three spell-checks which "corrected" me.


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