Saturday, 10 April 2010

Separate And Unequal

So I've taken the (bold, the foolish, the unadvisable) the maddening step of introducing multiple points of view to the novel. Let me rephrase that. I have taken the step of introducing a few chapters which follow more closely the actions of a handful of other characters important to the story.

Now in and of itself, this is old rope in my chosen trade. Large multi-book epics like those which are to comprise the Secret Quarto series are full of digressive bolt holes, swarms of characters, and the frequent switching between the main (or even minor) protagonists, sometimes chapter by chapter.

However, the book Invisible City follows a central path which revolves around a single character. He is not alone, but he is the flame to which most of the others are drawn.

For a while I wondered if I should simply keep the narrative anchored to his solitary viewpoint, as after all, the story unfolds mostly (or entirely) in traditional third person narrative. There are ample opportunities to give a bit of the light over to those others who crowd the scenery without bestowing on them more.

But I'm finding that it's not enough. Other voices and other stories are demanding to be heard. Reports from places just a little to the left or right of the centre, seem to clamour for their fair share of my words. Of course, to a degree I must deny them this or risk plunging into a morass of stories and characters from which the central tale might never emerge (George R. R. Martin might be able to pull it off, but for my first book I'd like to stay paddling in a smaller pond).

If they are to have a separate voice in the narrative, it will be one that is unequal. I simply have too much to do and say with the main character of the tale to leave him absent from the stage for long. Whether he shall turn out to be the hero of his own story, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, my pages must show.

I am left feeling a bit like a ship's captain on the night of a planned mutiny. I can see it coming. I'm uncertain if I'll survive it intact or even be able to influence the course it takes; but it is too late to stop it entirely with liberal rations of rum and the lash.

Perhaps I'll just tie myself to the wheel and see where the current takes us.


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