Multiple Viewpoint Novels

A writer-friend of mine has been thinking lately about the possibility of having multiple viewpoint characters in a novel she is working on. Since she’s been wondering what that might look like, I sent her a copy of Fish House Secrets which is told from two points of view, as a trade for her book of poetry, The Bridge that Carries the Road.

Now I want to tell her about the book I started reading at the CNIB Recording studio this week because it has five point of view characters. (I’m reading aloud only the sections of the story that are Amelia’s. A male narrator will be reading the male characters’ sections.)

Ragged CompanyRagged Company tells the story – stories – of four homeless people and one “Square John” whose lives intersect in a movie theatre one bitter cold winter day. It’s one of the most beautiful, sad, beautifully written, funny, wise, and moving books I’ve read in a long time – and I’ve been reading some good ones.

One of the other reasons I liked the book so much, I think, is because its author Richard Wagamese accomplished something I’ve been struggling with in the writing of my current novel-in-progress. Each one of his characters has his or her own distinct and wonderfully authentic voice. Read any page in isolation and there’s no mistaking whose version of events you are reading.

I’ve got the voice for one of my pov characters. The other two, after numerous drafts, seem still to be eluding me. Inspired by Richard Wagamese, though, I intend to love those two characters more, as he clearly loved each of is. And maybe if I can do that – instead of wishing as I sometimes do that they had not chosen me to tell their stories – maybe then I will be better able hear them speak.

In the meantime, if you have any suggestions for multiple-viewpoint novels you have loved – for kids or for adults – I hope you’ll let me know.

Want to read more?

6 Comments

  1. Caroline Pignat on October 29, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Interesting! I enjoyed Wagamese's other books, are their first nations' characters in this one as well?

  2. Kathy Stinson on October 29, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Yes. The character whose sections I am reading is Amelia One Sky. A great choice of name on Wagamese's part, I think.

    Another character has native blood in him too, but the reader doesn't know that right away so I won't say which one.

    I'm glad you've discovered this remarkable writer too, Carolyn.

  3. Kathy Stinson on October 29, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Oops. Just spelled your name wrong, CAROLINE! Sorry!

  4. […] Stinson presents Multiple Viewpoint Novels posted at Turning the Pages: Kathy Stinson’s […]

  5. ann severn benedek on February 24, 2012 at 5:57 am

    Hello Kathy:

    Your posts are tremendously informative and helpful . . . and reading them has often stopped me from carrying out the threat "I'm never going to write another word !!!!!" (LOL)

    Recently met Peter Carver when he stepped in for Ted Staunton at workshop Writing for Children II (terrific learning experience) and heard about your Nova Scotia retreat. It's on my 'must do' list for sometime in the near future . . .

    Looking forward to reading further of your posts. Thanks

    Ann Benedek

    • Kathy on February 24, 2012 at 7:51 am

      Ann, I'm glad to know that you're finding my posts helpful (in the funniest way), that you're learning lots in Ted's class (he's a good teacher and a good writer), and that our Seaside Retreat/Workshop is on your 'must do' list (soon it sound like, and that would be good).

      Thanks for reading my posts. If there's a subject you'd especially like to see me write about here sometime, please let me know and I'll add it to my 'must do' list. 🙂

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