Once more, I’ve reached the waiting stage. I’ve sent out the manuscript for my last novel and am hoping to hear back. Quite a stressful time. Writer’s block.
In the meantime, I thought I would post an old article I wrote on the subject of viewpoints. Generally, I like to introduce a second viewpoint in my work or, at least, a different time frame to add greater texture to the writing. Of course, this technique can backfire, producing complexity and unnecessary details.
Currently, I’m writing a psychological thriller about two guys who last met when they were ten. A serious crime occurred in the woods near their home and the main character managed to escape, but he has no recollection of the events or the person he ran from. Twenty-six years on, he is reconciled with his former best friend, also present at the crime scene. Soon, however, a set of disturbances occur, triggering a set of flashbacks about what really happened twenty-six years ago.
The central character’s wife has recently run away with someone, leaving him with a vulnerable eight-year-old son who has become withdrawn after a stint of bullying at school. At the start of the novel, the central character moves to his sister’s country cottage. The story is told from three viewpoints – the central character’s (first person), his sister’s (third person) and his best mate’s (third person). Each chapter is limited to one viewpoint. The viewpoints rotate.
The advantages of rotating viewpoints are:
- Greater psychological intensity and immediacy;
- The viewpoint characters might have different interpretations of the same events;
- By introducing back story, the varying viewpoints and time shifts expands the story, giving it a fuller feel.
However, watch for the pitfalls:
- Story runs the risk of becoming laboured and repetitive;
- The constant moving between character viewpoints and past and present could prove confusing.
In all, I’m enjoying this form of narration and feel it best tells the story I’m writing.