Melissa Marr (melissa_writing) wrote,
Melissa Marr

Pondering narrative structure

[NOTE: I'm still aiming for blogging semi-faithfully. I think the key is using this space to ponder & be random--which is what I first used it for. Any & all are free to comment, ignore, etc. I read all comments.]

Every so often, I see remarks about books (including my own) on the difference point of view and "head hoppping."  Head hopping could be multiple point-of-view (my preferred way to write), but more often it means an unspecified narrator who has the ability to be omniscient (know all characters thought & feelings at once). I think there are benefits to both--and to various other types of narrative structure. Right now, I only enjoy writing one way: 3rd person, past tense, with multiple limited point of view narrators. Most days if you ask why I write, my answer boils down to point of view. What I like about stories is that hazy space between voices, the sense that truth in stories is completely impossible because all stories are told via subjective stance.

Why I write so many povs . . . I write because who tells matters, because who doesn't tell matters, because several tellings change everything. I don't know if absolute truths exist. In the real world, we have the illusions of truth. "What happened?" is a question that can only be answered from the voice we possess. Our voice is filtered through our beliefs, our experiences, and the physical space where we exist. It's filtered through memories . . . which are further filtered by emotions . . . and by any number of factors.

When I write a book, I choose several characters with disparate experiences, conflicting motives, and the story is left to unfold through those narrating characters. If the chapter is in Kaleb's point of voice, the emotions are filtered through his world-lenses. HIS opinion of the other characters is what conveys.

His chapters are in his head. Other chapters are in other characters' pov. Multiple pov is the narrative structure that makes sense to me (& yes, in my personal belief structure I'm pretty wide-open as a result of this).

One thing that I sometime do is rewrite scenes in several characters' pov. Over on my website, I have posted a excerpt from Radiant Shadows that is originally in Ani's pov (ie in the book it's in hers), but I rewrote in Irial's pov. It was helpful to me to see what the same exact events and words mean when in different skin. 

The difficult part is that in doing this it's always pretty clear that there are very few villains. In most cases, if we understand the villain's pov, we might realize that they're not as bad as we think.  This is why I never wrote Beira or Bananach's pov in the WL novels. It's why when we see Keenan through Leslie's eyes he's a lot less good than when we see him through his pov OR through Donia's eyes.  It's why Seth looks so perfect in Book 1, but by Book 3, we know he's NOT. In that first book, we saw him through others' gazes--a girl who loved him, a faery who admired him, and a faery king who saw him as a threat.  

I'm not interested in "head hopping" in the sense of an omniscient narrator, but I'm rarely content with the idea of only one narrator. Maybe a story will present itself one day that requires omniscient or even first person, but for now I'm happy writing multi-pov 3rd but reading the other types of books .  

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