Sunday, November 27, 2011

On The Road To Publishville # 8 - "Multiple Voices & Continuing Adventures”

# "Waiting for the trains that just never come, beginning to believe in the disappearing nature of the people we have been - we have... begun... to change" #  - Counting Crows

As the year draws to a close, I've been starting to cast my eye back over my creative writing year and take stock of what I've achieved and learned, and it occurred to me that it's been a while since my last "On The Road To Publishville" post.  So far there's been 7 entries in this occassional series in which I attempt to document and pass on my trials and tribulations in trying to make the leap from amateur scribbler to published author by gaining an agent for my writing...




I was content to leave my “On the Road” series alone for a long while until there was some ‘real’ news to report on, but having gone on a much-needed 2-week laid-back holiday back in September where we did little but walk and relax in the sun of France, I came to a bit of an epiphany with my writing.  And that red-letter day idea was that my first adventure novel still needed redrafting (yes, the one that I’d already been sending out samples of to potential agents – doh!)  The manuscript is just overlong for the audience I’m trying to target and I’ve been avoiding admitting it for a long while but it needs some serious trimming and refining in each and every chapter… 

Added to this, though, there was a crucial new angle I also came up with (which gave rise to this new “On the Road” post) to help with this new redraft, one which would help inspire my creative approach and could potentially bring new strengths and surprises (even to myself as the author of the work) to the story… And that new literary device was to turn the book into a “multiple-point-of-view” novel.

Deconstructing a novel is good...
as long as you can put it together again!
Now, since getting back from that holiday with my notebook of scribbled ideas and a master plan of how to turn my first novel from a single-viewpoint (from the perspective of one main character) to encompass a story told from the view of 3 main characters, I’ve been doing some reading up on the subject (and this is where I’m trying to pass on my own research to any other wannabe writers out there, with this post!) 

Most multi-POV novels take the stance of a chapter-by-chapter separation, so with each succeeding chapter, you get a switch in the character that the overall story follows.   Additionally, each chapter tends to end on an event or a hook or cliffhanger (nothing new there for adventure books) but where it can get interesting narrative-wise, and where the art of writing can really come to the fore, is how the resolution of this cliffhanger is shown from a different perspective or Point Of View at the beginning of the next chapter through a NEW character’s eyes…  PLUS… there’s another clever twist that using this device gives you, and that’s that the crossover between chapters and switches in narrative perspective doesn’t have to necessarily be in “real time” – that is, with the beginning of a new chapter, you could jump back a little in time to show where the second character was at the time of the hook of the previous chapter, and then they come at the cliffhanger from a different angle and show familiar events to the reader in a new and interesting light.  This is used in TV shows a lot today and it can equally work well (with a little hard graft by the writer) on the page too, to help bring the story alive at it’s high points…
There's multiple characters inhabiting
multiple novels on the bookshelves
of my mind...

All sounds quite brilliant, right?  Well, a few months after coming up with my bright idea to inject “new life” into my first book, I still really like the idea of a multi-viewpoint novel, but ultimately, although it’s been a valuable research exercise, and after all the hot-air I’ve cast over this post, I’ve decided to stick with my single-POV for my first novel.  That’s not to say it doesn’t need redrafting and editing down (cos it does!), but I’ve realised that it depends on the story you’re trying to tell – this first novel is the story of ONE person only, not three – the themes and overall narrative I’m trying to explore is related to one character’s journey and will have more impact if they’re told from this more “honed-in” view… That’s not to say I’m not going to use the multi-view technique in a future book, it’s just that it’s not right for this one.  BUT it’s also been good to explore and report back on, here, in my “On the Road” series of posts (hopefully) for anyone else potentially thinking of setting out on a journey towards publication, but who might not have decided just how to tell their story yet…

I guess the final piece of advice that I’m going to pass on in this leg of my “On the Road to Publishville” journey is a major lesson that I’ve learned in that you shouldn’t send  out your manuscript to agents or publishers too early.  It’s something I was told and read about back at the beginning, but I guess sometimes you need to make your own mistakes and learn these lessons for yourself… (I’ll etch it up to a “classic rookie mistake”!)  BUT I do take comfort in the fact that although  I first came up with the idea for Novel #1 way back in 1999, it wasn’t until 2003 that I first seriously began to commit the story to the page and started to write the chapters out… SO if by 2013, I’ve finally finished my first novel, I’ll be content, because the old adage for scribbler-types is that it typically takes 10 years to write your first book…


By 2013, I wonder what results I'll have found in my shattered search to be a published author...
I always write way too much in these posts, so I’ll end with a look at the next things I’m going to pass on my journey “On the Road to Publishville” – namely the 3 books I’ve currently placed on my writing plate for the next year or so…

The first is “my history mystery”, which I guess I could categorise as the “past”:


The next is the redraft and edit of my first novel, which is foremost and “present” on my mind:



And last but not least is “Simulacrum”, which is very definitely the “future”:


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