I thought I’d talk about voice and writing a first-person narrative from multiple points-of-view. This is how I constructed my newly released novel, The Mistaken. Because the story is so emotionally charged, I used three characters to fully engage the reader and show the devastating impact of the novel’s events. Using only one perspective would have greatly limited my ability to tell the whole story.
Though I rely more heavily on one character—the male protagonist, Tyler Karras—I also use his wife in a limited capacity. It was important to show how Jillian takes a stand against her husband’s wishes and how her act of defiance ultimately contributes to her demise. Her death leads to Ty’s downward spiral and all the problems that result: his alcoholism and consuming need for revenge against the woman he feels is responsible. The third perspective—Hannah Maguire—is the woman Tyler mistakenly targets for revenge. As his wrongly accused victim, her voice offers sharp contrast to the remorse-stricken protagonist, whom some call an anti-hero.
When I started writing, I did so in close third-person, but that felt too detached and remote. So I switched to first, which allowed me to furrow deep within the minds of each character. I know, some readers don’t care for head-hopping, but I think it works when there’s a limited number, their voices are distinct, and are held per chapter. The trick is not to hop too often, so for each character, I stuck to multiple consecutive chapters to develop a strong voice.
Each voice has its own style and flavor that comes from deep inside the character. It’s their way of speaking, their syntax, jargon, or particular vernacular. Even their opinions are laced within their voices. It is the intimate details of each character’s life experience that makes each voice unique, that calls to the reader to come close, have a seat, and sit a spell while they tell you their side of the story.
It takes a keen understanding of who exactly is telling the story and why. The perspective and voice are the embodiment of that spirit. And in the end (as well as the beginning), it’s what keeps the reader reading. No matter how good the plot, if the POV is underdeveloped or the voice falls flat, the reader loses interest. Same holds true for too much voice, and in some cases, too many POVs, stretching the story thin in the name of breadth and clarity.
So what are your preferences for points of view? Do prefer first or third person? Does having multiple POVs enrich or dilute the story for you?
Visit Nancy’s blog, follow, and leave a comment during her book tour for a chance to win an ARC of The Mistaken. Plus, 5 runner-up winners will each receive an ebook.
Purchase The Mistaken here:
Praise for The Mistaken:
“A deliciously slow burn that builds to a ferocious crescendo, Nancy S. Thompson's THE MISTAKEN kept me riveted until the very last page. Tyler Karras is a complex and flawed protagonist, and his redemptive journey makes him the perfect anti-hero. This psychological suspense is a standout, and I can't wait for Thompson's next book.”
~ Jennifer Hillier, author of CREEP and FREAK
“Nancy S. Thompson's debut novel, The Mistaken, is a first-rate thriller full of hair-raising twists and turns. Pursued by the police and the Russian mafia in San Francisco, brothers Tyler and Nick Karras are fascinating, fully-drawn, desperate characters. The action is non-stop. Thompson's taut, intriguing tale of revenge, mistaken identity, kidnapping and murder will keep you enthralled and entertained.”
~Kevin O’Brien, New York Times Bestselling Author of DISTURBED and TERRIFIED
“Fast-paced and emotionally gripping - once the ride begins, you won't stop reading until it ends." ~Alex J. Cavanaugh, author of CASSAFIRE and CASSASTAR
The Mistaken Blog tour:
10/23: Julie Musil
10/25: Matthew MacNish
10/26: LG Smith
10/27: Aimee Jodoin
10/29: Heather M. Gardner
10/31: Jennifer Hillier
11/19: Arlee Bird