Today I’m going to release a little secret.
Those who know me in-person might find this to be nothing new, as I am capable of blathering about topics that most folk tend to otherwise be averse to bringing up. And yet, to the contrary, I am extremely secretive – almost to the point of paranoia, especially when it comes to my writing. It’s a good front – when people tell me secrets, I bloody keep them, but the way I’ve gone on about subjects (personal or taboo), I like to imagine that people perceive me as somebody who has no secrets.
Well, it’s akin to what Bill Cosby once said: “Fathers are the geniuses of the house because only a person as intelligent as we could fake such stupidity.”
So, the post’s titular ‘snapshot’ is how I am structuring my book-in-progress, through Points of View. Because I read/heard somewhere that it’s good to share your work, and the progress, your plans, your tribulations, what-have-you. I’ll attempt to keep it brief.
In essence, the Novel is – currently – divided into twelve chapters, following the experiences of three main characters. It is planned to have four chapters dedicated to each of the main characters, each of whom follows their own storyline, but is connected – in ways they don’t quite see – rather closely to one another. Think A Game Of Thrones in how George R.R. Martin divides each chapter by character perspective. He even goes so far as to entitle the chapters by the characters’ names, doing away with numbers altogether.
So we have twelve chapters, three main characters, four chapters each, interwoven. I’ll even give you names – Radh, Zayne, and Jacquel. For my own organizational purposes, I label the chapters RA, ZA, JA, then RB, ZB, JB, and so on. Here is a literal snapshot:
This kind of thing on its own is not particularly unique, I am aware. But I’m not shooting for unique chapter layout here, this is just what I’ve come to like in my reading and how I’ve come to enjoy organizing this novel.
I’m also fond of quick, non-main character PoV’s, sometimes as short as a page or two, just to give another … perspective … on the events at hand. Peppered throughout the work are shorter chapters the follow the PoV of some minor character who has something to do with one of the three named above. I think that most written work that follows the perspective of one single character walks on thin ice, but as with all things, there are exceptions. Epic fantasy by definition often has an extensive cast of characters, and denying a reader the chance to see things elsewhere can really make the piece feel… small. Or at least constrained.
**Edit: Having added some of the nonMain character PoV shorts, the actual total chapter length will be more than twelve.
The first three “intro” chapters begin with a non-main character PoV, which serve to inadvertently introduce the character of this storyline. I do this in part because it’s fun, and in part because it is different; it sort of flies in the face of what I’ve read how most stories “should” be written. That is, in the first page/paragraph/sentence, the readers need to know who the main character is. If this were true, then that guy in the beginning of A Game Of Thrones would not have been executed in Chapter 2.
Personally, I think that action, pace and story take precedence. The readers are smart and can figure out who the main character is soon enough without having the name be first or second word in the first sentence of the first paragraph. The beginning of a book does one thing before telling you who to root for: what kind of book it is you’re reading. Martin did an excellent job of telling us his Song of Fire and Ice series was not going to show mercy for his characters. Tolkien showed us that his book is long-winded and extremely in-depth straightaway, and Herbert (Dune) showed us pretty early on that humanity has come a long way, and what that entails.
Memory plays a big role in my Novel-in-the-works, too. While I don’t like to use flashbacks solely as an excuse for exposition, each chapter (with the exception of the first three “intro” chapters) is prefixed by a memory of something relevant to the events about to transpire, such as “where the character got their martial training” or “how this character fell from grace.”
It’s a joy to plan, and occasionally it’s a bit arduous to write, but it’s a labor of love, as they say.
That’s all for now, dear readers.