As I am still buried in the endless edits for The Prince’s Son, this will be another short(ish) blog, reflecting on how I’m tackling the multiple viewpoint characters in the book – and perhaps then I might find out how others do it as well.
When I began this book, I had 6 viewpoint characters. I quickly realised that 2 of those could easily be told in a separate book, and indeed that would work better, because although the event occur concurrently in real time, after the opening, the action does not intersect. So those 2 viewpoints now have their own book under construction, which will be no. 3 in what has now become a quadrilogy.
The 4 remaining characters were all necessary to this tale, so I set off as usual, then discovered I was having a hard time keeping track of each of the individual character arcs I’d planned.
My solution? I created 4 separate files, one for each character, and wrote their individual stories in isolation. Of course there were times when they were involved in the same events, and although I didn’t write strictly to the timeline, I found jumping between characters not such a challenge when I could look back over a single file and see the events and progress of that one character alone, without having to skip through multiple chapters of other characters to trace the individual evolution of one.
When it came to putting it all together, I used the Scrivener cork board feature (if you haven’t seen this, I recommend taking a look). I created one virtual card per scene, with a one sentence summary, and colour coded to each individual character. That meant at one glance I could shuffle scenes around to distribute the viewpoints more evenly while sticking to the overall timeline with ease.
I write in Word, so I admit I had to do the hard work of cutting and pasting the scenes together to create the whole book, because I haven’t yet figured out if it is possible to export from Scrivener back to Word. (If you know how, I would love to hear.) It didn’t take too long, and I’ve become very happy with this way of working.
So now that I’m editing, I am literally going through each file without reference to the others to see weaknesses in the individual character arcs and strengthen them before final assembly.
Does any one else do anything remotely resembling this? Or do you not tackle that many viewpoints in a single book? I needed to, so I ‘invented’ this way of coping, but I’m sure curious as to how other people do it.