Thursday, August 1, 2013

Multiple-Perspective Books

David Mitchell's first novel, Ghostwritten, and this week's review book, Cloud Atlas, have firmly secured their author a reputation for being excellent at multiple-perspective books. That is to say, they are written episodically, with different central characters and different story lines in each "episode."

David Mitchell Ghostwritten.jpgCloud atlas.jpg

But he's not the only horse in this race. Multiple-perspective writing is popular, if difficult to write well, and many authors have tried their hand at it.

One of the easiest ways to accomplish multiple perspectives is to literally have multiple perspectives, by collaborating with another author. David Levithan and John Green did this with Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Levithan did it with Rachel Cohn for Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist. Levithan managed multiple perspectives on his own with Realm of Possibility, which covers twenty different students at the same school.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

You may recall when we read Unwind by Neal Shusterman back in January. That book covers multiple perspectives, of different kids in similar situations who wind up interacting at some point. Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes is about a school shooting, and follows different characters on the fateful day. (I have heard that Jodi Picoult uses multiple perspective storytelling often, too.) Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett does this, too, telling several different stories at the beginning and converging them later in the story.

Unwind (Unwind, #1)Nineteenminutes.jpgGood Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

Those are common, because it makes for an easy story structure: Characters A, B, and C are going about their business, filling out exposition, and then they come together to begin the ascent toward the climax together, and the denouement wraps up whatever they started off doing.

It's also quite common to have only two characters trading off the story. Some that I've found include the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, and Breaking Dawn, the fourth Twilight book by Stephanie Meyer (as required by that whole... birth scene).

Leviathan (Leviathan, #1)Breaking Dawn (Twilight, #4)

There are thousands of other examples of multiple-perspective books; which are your favorites?

No comments:

Post a Comment