Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

I'm Having A Big Problem Structuring My Novel Right Now (1 Viewer)

Status
Not open for further replies.

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I've put off asking this question because to ask it means giving away early plot points. I'm not concerned with 'having an idea stolen', just spoiling it for anyone interested in watching its progression.

I've been running several scenarios through my head in the last few days, to such an extent, I haven't been able to sleep. As soon as my head hits the pillow, my mind spikes. It's both frustrating and inspiring. The problem I have is the scenario that seems right means breaking the first few chapters into three separate POVs, and I really wanted to focus the story entirely from Yarrod's perspective to begin with. I don't think I can though without throwing out the events I've got cemented in so far. The second problem is, one of these shifts in POV is likely to be very short, but I feel it's necessary to give Fiddlesticks' POV context and meaning.

It's difficult to explain without going into greater detail so:

POV 1 (Yarrod.). We begin the story with Yarrod suddenly appearing in the desert without a horse and walking North. We introduce his sidekick Stitch (a crow), his weapon Sorrow (a gun), as well as giving the reader an idea of what he's hunting and what is hunting him. He eventually blacks out in the desert and then wakes in a wigwam, built by a new character called Fiddlesticks, a Thawl (colloquially knows as a Boneman). Here we find out Fiddlesticks is one of few people to actually remember Yarrod from other cycles. Most people don't. They merely remember him as some kind of spirit/ghost, known as the Gravedigger. He's the story adults tell their children to keep them out of harm, and told to townsfolk to make them lock their doors at night.

POV 2 (Fiddlesticks). Yarrod is told by Fiddlesticks he's carrying Riftshifter artefacts (gun/saddle) but Yarrod still doesn't know why. After Fiddlesticks tells him he's been out for a good day and a half, Yarrod hastily leaves, realising the storm, which was only two to three days behind, will now be almost upon him. He leaves for town which is a good 3 - 4 hours away on foot. Now we're in Fiddlesticks' POV. During the conversation with Yarrod certain things have been mentioned that worries him. He's one of the last survivors of his kind, driven from their homelands by the Dannuk, the very people Yarrod hunts.

Here is the main problem I have: Fiddlesticks needs to want to go deep into The Devil's Throat, a warren of caves. This is where he was originally held up and hiding from the Dannuk but bandits took control of the area and drove him out, stealing his sword in the process. For want of a better way of describing it, the sword is a vampire sword. It has allegiance to the person it draws first blood from. Something has to trigger this need to retrieve the sword, which I'll deal with in the conversations when in Yarrod's POV in the wigwam (hopefully). Yarrod will not directly ask him to come along with him but I need to plant a seed in Fiddlesticks somehow, and naturally, not forced. Something Yarrod says (or a realisation) needs to make him feel he's not quite as safe as he felt he was and he has some moral 'duty' to help Yarrod. This aspect will be explored whilst in Fiddlesticks' POV.

The main thrust of the Fiddlesticks' POV plot is simple: He goes to get his sword, gets caught and is asked which hand he wishes to keep. He tells them to cut off his right hand because he knows they'll cut off his left for spite. He begs them not to use the vampire sword, again playing to their spite. They use the sword to cut off his left hand, and of course the first blood drawn is Fiddlesticks' blood. The sword goes berserk and the bandit that cut his hand off ends up killing most of his own men. Basically that's the scene. Fiddlesticks emerges, dazed and minus his left hand.

POV 3 (Aryngroth) Aryngroth is a Dannuk and is searching for Fiddlesticks because he stole her sword. This scene is going to be the shortest scene but it's where to put it that bothers me a little. This is the sequence I have in mind:

Yarrod (desert) -> collapses in the desert -> Jump to Aryngroth POV talking about sword -> Jump back to Yarrod POV in Fiddlesticks' wigwam -> Leave for town -> Go into saloon and meet third party member, Frerraleise (a saloon whore) -> drink/eat and partake of her services -> jump to Fiddlesticks' POV in which we get the scene I explained above -> Jump back to Yarrod who has a local Dannuk he needs to hunt and kill -> after something harrowing happens during the hunt, Yarrod returns to town and Frerraleise to seek comfort -> During this scene Fiddlesticks emerges dazed and losing blood -> Frerraleise and Yarrod get him a doctor and we now have the whole troupe together -> During the night, a few whores are kidnapped and Yarrod is asked by Frerraleise to find them and save them. She knows of their fate if he doesn't but won't say what it is -> The three set off and the adventure starts proper with the chapter 'The Gravedigger, The Boneman and The Whore'.

Is that shifting POVs too much in the opening of a novel?
 

Lawless

Senior Member
Is that shifting POVs too much in the opening of a novel?

I visualized myself reading the novel: first POV1, then POV2, then POV3, and then POV1 to the end. I tried to imagine myself finding it weird. Quite frankly, I doubt I would find anything wrong with it.

So I'd suggest you just go for it.
 

KeganThompson

Senior Member
I would go for it and see how you feel, if later on you think its not quite working you can find other ways to change it if need be.
For now just go with your instinct. :)
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
For me, it's hard to know what is too much without reading it. I've beta-ed a bunch of novels recently that have one POV per chapter, and the chapters weren't overly long, so it can work but it will likely leave (or demand) a particular effect. My gut feel is to have Aryngoth's scene a little later, largely for reasons of beats. I think your style might require a good few scenes'orth of bedding in before switching.

As for Fiddlesticks, I think there's a great opportunity here to not do a standard POV switch but really change the whole style and method of delivery of this character's POV (you may already have handled this of course). In my view that can help the POVs complement each other rather than havig them be too samey, demanding we accept the switch without nudging readers towards it, the former of which I do see a lot in multi-POV works and which is one of my pet peeves about the style.
 

KatPC

Senior Member
Is that shifting POVs too much in the opening of a novel?

From the outline, for me it is okay, it is very dependent on how manage and pace the details. Different POVs is fine, if done well, very rewarding and intriguing to a reader. I do have a few questions. How long is this opening scene? Is this a few chapters long? In your description you stressed the importance of POV 3 Aryngroth, and as a solution, I think a standalone, short few hundred word chapter would be perfect. It will carry maximum effect and the shortness of it will stick in a reader's mind.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
From the outline, for me it is okay, it is very dependent on how manage and pace the details. Different POVs is fine, if done well, very rewarding and intriguing to a reader. I do have a few questions. How long is this opening scene? Is this a few chapters long? In your description you stressed the importance of POV 3 Aryngroth, and as a solution, I think a standalone, short few hundred word chapter would be perfect. It will carry maximum effect and the shortness of it will stick in a reader's mind.

The opening scene with Yarrod is currently 9 pages and will likely be around 10 - 12 pages, but the POV shift I intend to add hits at about the 4 page mark. Having gone through it again to check if I could add it in smoothly, it's looking problematic because everything runs smoothly from Yarrod finding the alcove to rest, finally passing out, having a dream/vision and Stitch waking him up. I don't think it's the right place to put it.

Yarrod nestled in as deep as he could—back pressed against the rough stone—and slumped down. His knees and feet still protruded, baked, burnt, but his sweat slickened back and nape began to cool. He closed his eyes as the sensation spread. Cramps in weary limbs slipped away, as if he had turned to dust and joined the endless sea of sand. Lighter, formless, he fell, thinning into nothing: a done man’s whisper.

Annabel

Split lips tried to form the word from beyond the fugue.

Annabel

From somewhere out of nowhere an image formed, mercurial and vague, enough for the mind to grasp but not enough for the eyes. A gentle hand took a child’s, graced it with tenderness and lightly patted away a tremble. Again, the hand patted, this time with more urgency. A pat and a pat and a tap, tap, tap. The image dissolved, the here-and-now re-emerged and the tap became a peck.

“Wake, wake, Yarrod wake.”

Yarrod prized open his left eye, his other buried in the sand, mouth gasping like a banked fish. As the world disentangled, he found himself staring into the two dry caves of the steer. Its one unbroken horn rose from it as if a talon searching out its prey. At its tip, a piece of red material wriggled and fluttered.

I could move that POV shift to the very end of the scene after Yarrod leaves Fiddlesticks. That gives me a clean break and still allows me to add in the details about the stolen sword (Bloodfang?) and so still set up Fiddlesticks' journey into the Devil's Throat.

I visualized myself reading the novel: first POV1, then POV2, then POV3, and then POV1 to the end. I tried to imagine myself finding it weird. Quite frankly, I doubt I would find anything wrong with it.

So I'd suggest you just go for it.

My main problem is the length of the Aryngroth's POV shift I think. I need to make it substantial enough to warrant the shift. If it's just a shift to tell the reader about the sword she lost and the Boneman she's searching for (Bloodfang and Fiddlesticks), then I fear it will feel arbitrary. That scene grew in my head last night after posting this and I think I have more meat to play with as well as characterisation of the antagonist to add. It'll also give me the opportunity to show the reader what Yarrod will be up against.

For me, it's hard to know what is too much without reading it. I've beta-ed a bunch of novels recently that have one POV per chapter, and the chapters weren't overly long, so it can work but it will likely leave (or demand) a particular effect. My gut feel is to have Aryngoth's scene a little later, largely for reasons of beats. I think your style might require a good few scenes'orth of bedding in before switching.

As for Fiddlesticks, I think there's a great opportunity here to not do a standard POV switch but really change the whole style and method of delivery of this character's POV (you may already have handled this of course). In my view that can help the POVs complement each other rather than havig them be too samey, demanding we accept the switch without nudging readers towards it, the former of which I do see a lot in multi-POV works and which is one of my pet peeves about the style.
The style will alternate slightly depending on the mood I want to set. It's thick and figurative in the first scene because Yarrod is trudging through the desert and slowly weakening. I wanted the reader to 'feel' that journey as well as read about it. I can't make the Fiddlesticks scene too light though. He gets caught and has his hand severed. But Fiddlesticks has a certain cartoony quality about the way he talks and I intend to make the bandits a little stupid to add at least some light relief amid the darker elements of the scene. If I was to liken it to Tolkein, I'm thinking 'Riddles in the dark'. 'Please don't cut my left hand off!', 'please don't use THAT sword'. etc. I game of wits so to speak.

I have decided to move that POV shift for Aryngroth to the very end of the Yarrod scene. I can still have a natural break and still show the sword Fiddlesticks intends to retrieve is the sword he stole. Do you think Bloodfang sounds cliched? The very fact I'm asking suggests to me it is. I'm pretty sure it's been used before.
 
Last edited:

Lawless

Senior Member
My main problem is the length of the Aryngroth's POV shift I think. I need to make it substantial enough to warrant the shift. If it's just a shift to tell the reader about the sword [---] it will feel arbitrary. [---] I think I have more meat to play with as well as characterisation of the antagonist to add. It'll also give me the opportunity to show the reader what Yarrod will be up against.

Indeed, I see your point. I think it's a good idea to let him give the reader some more background information while he's at it.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Indeed, I see your point. I think it's a good idea to let him give the reader some more background information while he's at it.
Aryngroth is a she but that mistake has answered a question I had about the name. I may change it. What you've got to remember is Yarrod has no memory and so everything you'd normal broaden a story with such as asides to do with his history, the world's history or events that have happened in the world he inhabits, have to be filled in by other characters, at least until he gets more of his memory back.
 

KatPC

Senior Member
From somewhere out of nowhere an image formed, mercurial and vague, enough for the mind to grasp but not enough for the eyes. A gentle hand took a child’s, graced it with tenderness and lightly patted away a tremble. Again, the hand patted, this time with more urgency. A pat and a pat and a tap, tap, tap.

This is beautifully written, I would have put '... am image formed; mercurial, vague, enough for the mind to grasp, but not enough for the eyes.'

Is your pierce in the workshop? I feel it is very unfair to comment and point.

To reply to your comments above, about your opening scene about change in POV around page 4, my suggestion is TRY! Write, read and compare. A lot of times a good idea can catapult an intro, or a good idea can complicate too much and sadly the only way to see if another voice in the opening works, is to give a go.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
This is beautifully written, I would have put '... am image formed; mercurial, vague, enough for the mind to grasp, but not enough for the eyes.'

Is your pierce in the workshop? I feel it is very unfair to comment and point.

To reply to your comments above, about your opening scene about change in POV around page 4, my suggestion is TRY! Write, read and compare. A lot of times a good idea can catapult an intro, or a good idea can complicate too much and sadly the only way to see if another voice in the opening works, is to give a go.
Yes, it's in the workshop area https://www.writingforums.com/threads/the-sixth-chamber-chapter-one-w-i-p.194432/

I've decided to put the jump at the end of the scene and start the next chapter with it.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top