Monday, June 23, 2014

The same only different

First, I want to apologize for my absence two weeks ago. I was in the great Land of Cleve (in Ohio) spending time with the family who spend much of the year positively bereft in my absence (they don't always admit it but they miss me quite terribly, I am certain).

Second, three exciting books!

1. Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
The finale! It's here!

2.North Star by Peter Reynolds
This is easily my favorite Peter Reynolds book and an awesome graduation gift!

3. Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson
There's a big push for more diversity in literature and this is the book the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement has been backing. It has a great ensemble cast and is just a lot of fun.

Now, on to the regularly scheduled nonsense.

I am always intrigued by the idea of different points of view. How does an event change when viewed by different people? We're all so influenced by our background that it's pretty much impossible to have the same experience as someone else even while experiencing the same event.

In reworking the current draft of my own novel, I tossed around the idea of rewriting it from another character's point of view. I wasn't sure if it was something I wanted to do as a separate project or just as a personal exercise to get a better grasp of both sides of certain scenes. But it felt like something important to do because I feel like my two characters are experiencing two very different things in the same moment.

But where is the line where you cross from telling two different but parallel stories and just telling the same thing with different words? Is it just reader interest? Which is to say, do you have to have a built in audience to even bother? Or do the characters have to be so different that you couldn't possibly be telling the same story? Does there have to be a mystery surrounding one of them, that makes it worth writing/reading?

I remember when Stephanie Meyer said she was writing Midnight Sun, Twilight from Edward's point of view. As a fan, I was interested. Objectively, I didn't really think it was necessary. We knew enough about him that I didn't see how the story would be all that different from what we already had. I don't feel like there's enough of  a new story but the audience was definitely there.

Similarly, on her website, Cassandra Clare offers a variety of extra scenes and letters and things of that nature. Sometimes these scenes show us other characters doing things that didn't fit into the book. Or original edits of scenes. Other times they're scenes from an alternate perspective. I think the alternate perspective scenes are a lot of fun but I never really felt the need to read The Mortal Instruments from Jace's point of view.
Let's be serious, if she wrote it I would read it but I don't really have a burning desire. We know him. He's tortured and snarky as a defense and I love that but I usually feel like I have a pretty good sense of what he's thinking. I would so much rather have new stories from her.

Veronica Roth has a collection coming out next month called Four. As you might have guessed, it's a selection of stories from Four's point of view. Some of them take place before Divergent starts, some of them during the series. I am incredibly interested in the prequel stories and if this were pre-Allegiant I'd be dying for the others as well. But in Allegiant we were in Four's head so I have a better sense of him now. That isn't to say I am not going to devour and love every second of the book. I will. Believe me, I will be all over that. It just doesn't feel as necessary.

Alternating point of views per chapter can often serve to do the same thing, give the same sense of another character but if you have a mystery can you do that without ruining it? If the point of changing point of view is to highlight the difference in the characters' experiences is the mystery important? Can you have both?

So, is there a place for alternate point of view stories? Does it only work in short story form? What makes something like that worth reading?

Would you read the same story from two different points of view?



Anonymous said...

ENDER'S SHADOW is on my list of books to read. It is ENDER'S GAME told from the point of view of his friend Bean.

Meredith Davies said...

There is a French movie called He Loves Me…He Love Me Not that I think you would enjoy watching if you are still turning this question of two points of view over in your head. I just happened to see it like 10 years ago, and I thought it was good then. Also, I just moved here from the Land of Columb (Columbus)(no one calls it the Land of Columb), and it made me feel so happy to see that you are a fellow Ohioan!