Monday, December 12, 2011

Working with the Vantage Point

by Chris Smith

I’ve found that writing a story can get incredibly boring if you don’t love, or at least enjoy, being with your characters. The basis for my novel is that I’m loving putting these characters through their life struggles, and seeing what comes out in the end.

There are a few things that come from writing a story with multiple main characters, or protagonists. You have to decide on the distinct voices, as well as which parts of the story to tell with each character. The unique thing about my novel is that I’ll be retelling certain events over again, but with a new voice, and therefore with a new set of views, bias, and insight.

The biggest problem will be creating each voice. I can’t afford to let any character sound too much like any other character or the story will blur together and the meaning will be lost. Readers also will not feel that they are reading into new characters, and will give up reading before the action picks up.

I find that setting each character in a first person view gives me more opportunity to make the voice unique, but it also is more difficult. The first person view can get repetitive, and is also extremely limited in scope. This is tailor-made for a story trying to leave out certain parts because each character is limited, but it
makes is harder to change the voice each time.

Writing things in a third person style would eliminate the voice almost entirely, and we’d be set with only a singular third-person narrator. This could be OK if I ended up including the third-person in the end as a first person narrative, but it would make the other characters less important, and the overall theme should incorporate each character as equally as possible.

When retelling the same story over and over again, you can’t just repeat the action and words. The new view comes with new angles, new understanding. What was one thing could be something entirely different to another person. Perhaps he did stab the guy in the back before he jumped off of the plane! Perhaps he didn’t and he really got stabbed himself! Depending on which view you see it from, it can make all the difference in a key scene. You can also use misunderstandings and red herrings to advance the plot and bring the characters closer together.

The most important thing to remember is that each voice in the story is unique. That will be the key feature in creating an interesting book. If each voice is flat and dull, then the stories will not mix well, or will mix over into something that is boring, and unreadable.

Working with the Vantage Point was a good title, as the movie Vantage Point (while not exactly being a critical masterpiece) does a good job of exemplifying this particular perspective.

[Editor's Note: Tune in tomorrow for the last two student blog posts! - Lauren Burch]

1 comment:

  1. I've never seen Vantage Point, but after reading this post, I'm interested in checking it out.

    Character voice, for me, has always been the most important and yet difficult part of writing. I have a very distinctive writing style, and I have to put a great amount of conscious effort into changing that style from voice to voice. I'm intrigued by your advice, and I'll be trying it out to see how it works!