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The cast grows...

I only managed about 500 words yesterday, but they were 500 words of firsts.

This beginning of a scene is from a new POV character I've never written before and the scene involves my first attempt at a naval encounter (triremes). It was mainly a feeling out of both.

Already I know where I want to go with the scene and that I have to change the last 50 words or so before continuing because the logistics just don't work. But I'm excited. Adding in a new aspect of world building by including the naval conflicts, and choosing to show most of it through a brand new POV character (she's been around in the background of the story since its inception many many years ago, but never played a real role) adds to both the challenge and the enthusiasm.

Now, this also brings up another issue. How many POV characters will this story have? I'm a firm believer in the antagonists getting their fair share of stage time in a story. So that manages to automatically expand my POV cast.

At the moment, I have 6 confirmed POV characters on the Protagonist side and 2 confirmed POV characters on the Antagonist side, with a 3rd as a real strong possibility.

Just how many minimum words are there for a POV character to actually be worth being a POV character in a book?

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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
sartorias
Aug. 5th, 2009 04:25 pm (UTC)
That so depends on your transitions and how you're handling the breaks . . . and in the end will depend on readers' tastes, of course. Me, I love lots of POVs as long as I'm securely anchored in whose head I'm in at the beginning of the scene.
cedunkley
Aug. 5th, 2009 04:40 pm (UTC)
I really do need to break myself out of the habit of starting each new scene with the character's name at the start of the first sentence. It would also be nice to do what George R.R. Martin does and simply name each chapter after the POV character, but I don't want to do that.

I've been playing around with sub-sections within chapters as a way to switch between each POV without having to use a full chapter break the way I have been.

I'm also toying with having a little header with each location and/or POV switch naming at least the place and possibly POV character. I'm not really sure yet.

All of that is secondary to capturing the proper and unique narrative voice of each character, though.

sartorias
Aug. 5th, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC)
If there are a lot of POVs, having the character named in the first sentence is to me a feature, not a bug. (Just sayin'.)
cedunkley
Aug. 5th, 2009 05:58 pm (UTC)
That's good to know. I thought it might be annoying, but if it helps to anchor the the new POV switch I shouldn't worry at this point.
sartorias
Aug. 5th, 2009 06:22 pm (UTC)
I think I might be annoyed if there was some repetitive trick, but an invisible way in wouldn't bother me a bit.

John reached for the stick shift and hit the brake as the ptereodactyl hit the windshield. He . . .

Terry gasped with laughter as her mother did the ritual chicken dance . . .

Ellen screamed at her kids, but the wind snatched away the words so she couldn't even hear herself . . .

I would never notice that each begins with the name of a character because there is immediate action--so the signal whose eyes I'm seeing through is as fast a signal as film.
cedunkley
Aug. 5th, 2009 10:28 pm (UTC)
I can see what you mean about the action of the sentence allowing the POV character to be established without it feeling repetitious. I went through my back story WIP and unfortunately in the 52 chapters it has, 48 of them start with the character's name as the first word.

Even if I make sure to have smooth action emphasized sentences like your examples, which some of them already are, I think I really need to mix up some of these opening chapter sentences. As long as I can either establish POV by setting or by mentioning the character within the first couple of sentences it should work.

sartorias
Aug. 5th, 2009 10:31 pm (UTC)
If each sentence feels different, I just do not see a problem with the first word being the POV name. No one will notice, really. Not unless you hammer it with headers or a repeated formula.
cedunkley
Aug. 5th, 2009 10:46 pm (UTC)
You know what, I think it's just me. I pulled up an old first draft manuscript of an epic fantasy story I was co-writing with an old friend. (He wrote book 1, I wrote book 2 and we were going to split book 3.)

And that manuscript has about 85% of its chapters starting with a character's name. And I never noticed it. And no one who has read it has ever mentioned it either.

You're right. Unless I do something to make the reader notice, they generally won't. Well, at least I can let that go.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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