Monday, 23 April 2012

Characters Need To Be Where The Action Is

I always write from one character's viewpoint.  I've tried multiple viewpoints but I get caught up in one person's story and that becomes the only story I want to communicate.

One of the problems with writing always from one person's point of view is that the character has to be where the action is most of the time.  It's fine to have a certain amount of reported action ie the main character hears about something dramatic rather than actually being there as a participant or witness, but if there's too much it will seem as if the story is taking place off stage.

The exception is with stories where there's a mystery in the past that a character in the present has to solve.  The detective story would be the classic example, but many historically based novels. such as AS Byatt's Possession, are also essentially mysteries .  The main character finds out what happened in the past through being told by other characters who were actually there when the action happened, or by reading previous narratives and accounts such as letters and diary entries.  The reader's attention is held because they are also working the puzzle out at the same time as the main character.  

Generally though, viewpoint characters should be present when exciting stuff is happening because they are the reader's window on the narrative world.  We're reading to feel we're part of an exciting world where stuff happens - we can do the ordinary at home.  We want a ringside seat at the drama, so don't let your viewpoint character get the drama secondhand.

PS Blogger has changed format which I'm finding hard to get around.  Forgive me if things are a bit disjointed while I get used to the new format.

1 comment:

Philip C James said...

Absolutely necessary too if you want to weave two or more threads and bring them together later in the narrative. Thanks for clarifying my thinking, Sarah.