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  1. #1
    Chris Anderson
    Guest

    Switching viewpoints with multiple protagonists

    In a story with two main protagonists, I'm wresting with the idea of writing one from a omniscient 3rd person perspective and one from a 1st person narrative. So far I've written two chapters of each protagonist each in omniscient 3rd, and I'm afraid that if I switch the "main" protagonist to 1st person, it will be a strange balance or an awkward transition from one story thread to the other. Although I like the thought that they would be very unique from each other, and the main protagonist is very personal to me and I would like it to have the feel of "my voice"....what are your thoughts?

  2. #2
    Janice W-D
    Guest

    Re: Switching viewpoints with multiple protagonists

    It's done more and more frequently nowadays. Ruby River by Lynn Pruett has a mom and several daughters narrating separate chapters. Some in first, some in third. Toward the end, one character that had always been in 3rd person switched to 1st person (or maybe it was vice versa).

    Jodi Picoult's Songs of the Humpback Whale has about six narrators doing the same thing but I think they were all in 1st person. I've read a handful of other authors doing the same thing but the titles escape me at the moment.

    In short, literature's always evolving. Anything goes, as long as you have the chops to pull it off. If you haven't yet learned how to make each character's "voice" instantly recognizeable to readers, take a break. Read authors who do it well, starting with Picoult and Pruett and then dive back into your story.

    Best,
    Janice

  3. #3
    Janice W-D
    Guest

    Re: Switching viewpoints with multiple protagonists

    OK, I thought of another one. AND SHE WAS by Cindy Dyson. 1st person POV character in present day, interspersed with 3rd person chapters set in mid-1700s.

    Janice

  4. #4
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: Switching viewpoints with multiple protagonists

    I've done it. Didn't seem to be a problem.

  5. #5
    Todd Ritter
    Guest

    Re: Switching viewpoints with multiple protagonists

    Harlan Coben does it quite often, to great effect. I'm curious about trying it someday myself if I think the story warrants it.

  6. #6
    Devin Stadeker
    Guest

    Re: Switching viewpoints with multiple protagonists

    In George Martin's highly-successful Ice and Fire series, he switches between the viewpoints of several characters, using their names as chapter titles to cue the reader in. I hate the books, personally, but the technique didn't jar me, and I was never confused as to who I was reading about.

    Switching from first to third person might be a bit more troublesome, but it's nothing that would make me put a book down if I was enjoying it.

  7. #7
    Chris Anderson
    Guest

    Re: Switching viewpoints with multiple protagonists

    I'm definitely going to give it a try. I think because it is 2 stories which eventually meet up and move forward together, it would be easier for a reader to follow which arc they are reading if the tense and perspective is different. Even once the stories join, I plan to keep dipping back every few chapters into the secondary protagonist to get a different take on the events and to sort of discredit a little of the 1st person narrative. I think that this would help build the main protagonist into a slightly more unreliable narrator, which is what I want. I need someone to show him the errors of his ways.

  8. #8
    Devin Stadeker
    Guest

    Re: Switching viewpoints with multiple protagonists

    Just be mindful of the fact that if the story arcs are separate and don't come together at the correct pace, it can be somewhat frustrating for the reader to become immersed in one set of events and then be pulled from it and tossed into another. I think what you're attempting will require a lot of work in the pacing department, especially when you consider two different perspectives.

    But, as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Good luck with your project.

  9. #9
    Chris Anderson
    Guest

    Re: Switching viewpoints with multiple protagonists

    I've thought about that, as far as when and how to lead up to the convergence. I don't think it's going to be too difficult because, in reality, the secondary protagonist is searching for the main protagonist. Once he finds him, the story can continue as one. Also, the secondary protagonist is much more passive in action and will only have about 1/3 the narrative size...his story is mostly backstory and character building that will lend him credibility for the actions he takes once he finds the main protagonist.

  10. #10
    Devin Stadeker
    Guest

    Re: Switching viewpoints with multiple protagonists

    I think the most concise advice I could offer you is 'proceed with caution'. The wonderful thing about writing is that you can take all the time you want, so be sure to devote plenty to how you craft your story and I'm sure the results will please.

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