Summary of where we're up to:
You have your idea.
You know your characters
You have planned your story
Now, it's time to write. So exciting.The first thing you need to consider is:
WHO IS TELLING THE STORY?
In other words, is the story narrated by:
- One character
- Multiple characters
- Someone else
There are advantages and disadvantages to each option.
One CharacterIf you tell the story through one person's point of view (notice I'm not talking about first person or third person here, I'm only thinking point of view) then you can only have things that this person knows. So he or she can't express thoughts and opinions of another character (unless, I suppose, they have telepathic powers). And they can't see things in another room, another country, another world unless someone tells them.
One character's point of view is limiting. However, it is powerful - the reader begins to identify deeply with the character.
Multiple CharactersIn my book, A Necklace of Souls, I got around the single-character limitation by having two persons telling the story. Dana, the heroine, as first person (the I-voice) and Will, the hero, in the third person limited (the he-voice). I told the story using two character's perspectives.
If you write your story with multiple characters as narrators you have an advantage of the story not being limited to one place or one perspective. However, there are disadvantages with this technique:
- It can be confusing to the reader, especially if the perspectives jump around too much
- Multiple narrators may slow the plot development.
- The voices of the characters need to be very different, so technically it can be tricky. Your narrators are supposed to be different people, so they shouldn't have the same beliefs, syntax or sentence structures.
This is one of the reason I chunked the points of view - only one narrator per chapter. Now there's disadvantages to this technique, too. Have you read Breaking Dawn, the last book in the Twilight series? I hated Jake. Absolutely hated him. (Sorry, Jake. nothing personal, honestly) But I loved Bella. So I skimmed all of the Jake chapters.
This, to me, is the main difficulty with multiple narrators - the reader might hate one of them!
External NarratorFinally, there's the narrator who stands outside the story, and knows everything about everyone. This is a very traditional fairy-tale story-telling technique, and its often used in film making, because in film its hard to get into the character's heads.
However, for fiction writing its a nightmare, because it is so distancing. Neil Gaiman uses this technique in Neverwhere. Gaiman is such an amazing writer - he slides around, moving from omniscient narrator to character narration, blurring the boundaries seamlessly.
Omniscient narration does have one great advantage - it allows the writer to make ironic comments about the characters. This can add an awful lot of humour to a story. Jane Austen used this technique very successfully - when talking of Mrs Bennet in Pride and Prejudice: 'The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.'