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DaveKuzminski
02-22-2005, 07:58 PM
Right now, I'm concerned about how I'm writing one particular manuscript.

In essence, it's a lot like watching the movie The Longest Day where there are many characters who each have a role in what is clearly a larger picture. The story I'm writing has multiple characters in different locations. Only a few characters come into contact with others. Others are connected by those who do.

By the way, the scene changes within each chapter are frequent. In other words, each chapter is not devoted to only one locale and set of characters. A character might appear in several scenes within one chapter and then not reappear until a few chapters later. What I'm trying to portray is activities taking place at the same time in different places since the story isn't at all like a boardgame where sides take turns moving. Also I'm implying the passage of time when a character isn't mentioned since I doubt that anyone wants to read how a character does goes about his routine until he arrives at a new location where new encounters take place.

Basically, I'd like to know how others view this style.

maestrowork
02-22-2005, 08:13 PM
It sounds busy and exciting and fast paced... if that's what you're going for, then I'd say go ahead. It might work.

clintl
02-22-2005, 08:35 PM
It sounds to me like something that can work. Is there some reason you think it's not working as you're writing this story?

DaveKuzminski
02-22-2005, 08:43 PM
I think it works, but I think it's also somewhat experimental. I say that because it leaves some of the subplots unresolved to be handled in sequels.

There's even a couple of murders that aren't solved because it's a medieval-level society for the most part. Most of their skills and technology are not geared to solving murders from what little evidence we might see used on CSI. But I think it's more realistic for the reader to know who did it, but for the characters to not find out.

clintl
02-22-2005, 08:49 PM
If you think it's working, I'd say continue on, and deal with whatever problems it causes when you revise. Do you have a writing group to show it to?

DaveKuzminski
02-22-2005, 09:36 PM
No. It's much too large for a group to deal with. Trust me, way too large.

bikrpreacher
02-22-2005, 09:47 PM
Dave, as a reader, this sounds terrific! Though it's probably a lot of work for you, this is the type story that people like me who read more than one book at a time like to read. I haven't found that many, but it's a wonderful idea for a reader, interesting and not boring. Just my two cents.

Shiny_Penguin
02-22-2005, 10:08 PM
I think it works, but I think it's also somewhat experimental. I say that because it leaves some of the subplots unresolved to be handled in sequels.

No matter how much you try, there's always going to be something unresolved (whether there's a sequel or not). As long as it isn't the main plot of the book that's unresolved I never have a problem. In fact it's the little unresovled things that make me want to read a second (or third) in a series.

Kate Nepveu
02-22-2005, 10:09 PM
. . . many characters who each have a role in what is clearly a larger picture. The story I'm writing has multiple characters in different locations. Only a few characters come into contact with others. Others are connected by those who do.I'm usually a character-centered reader, so I'd better be given a really good reason to care about what's going on with all these spread-out people--possibly by the bigger picture being both gripping and clearly established early on.

(Have you read Helprin's _Winter's Tale_? Beautiful book, nearly didn't finish it--the first section is a gorgeous love story, and then that ends, and we get this succession of 50-page chunks about completely different people--who end up getting connected back to the main story by the end of their chunk, but having to repeatedly meet new people in the middle of the book was very wearying.)

DaveKuzminski
02-22-2005, 10:19 PM
Nope, haven't read it. I'm sure I'm doing it worse even though I'm also trying to give the reader a chance to follow the bad guys around as well and see what problems they have to deal with.

Pthom
02-22-2005, 11:40 PM
"... one particular manuscript. ... where there are many characters who each have a role in what is clearly a larger picture. The story I'm writing has multiple characters in different locations. ... trying to portray ... activities taking place at the same time in different places since the story isn't at all like a boardgame where sides take turns moving. ...

Basically, I'd like to know how others view this style."I think the style can work. Sounds a lot like the story I have in progress. Also sounds much like Asmiov's Foundation story. Where the story is about the larger picture and not specifically about the individuals who are involved.

It's good to know others have similar goals, ideas, and are working at making them successful.

DaveKuzminski
02-23-2005, 12:19 AM
And on the other hand, I just received my first fan letter for a book of mine asking when a sequel would come out. It felt especially good since the book is one of my better efforts and I'm proud of it. Also, it uses some of the multiple character, multiple scene technique in the current manuscript that I'm writing though the two are not related in any manner.

mdin
02-23-2005, 03:46 AM
Those ensemble cast type stories are the kind I like to read and write the most. It can be really challenging at times, especially having to deal with reader confusion, juggling the pacing, and dealing with story time (ie this part of the story only takes this character one day, but this one four days and needs to be revealed first, etc). The whole thing lends to an 'epic' feeling when it's pulled off well. George R.R. Martin's books are like this.

DaveKuzminski
02-23-2005, 05:16 AM
Indeed? I haven't read any of George R.R. Martin's work yet.

Hang of Thursdays
02-23-2005, 12:59 PM
If you don't mind me saying this, it sounds like a Tom Clancy novel, particularly Without Remorse. All the back and forth from subplot to subplot to subplot, and then back again. It's totally doable, I think, in almost any format. Just make sure that you don't have any unneccessary characters -- any characters that either serve one function that could be served by another, or that repeat the actions of other characters. I did a big ensemble piece like that a couple years ago and cut out all the extraneous character and wound up a nice little spy novel.

Kate Nepveu
02-23-2005, 10:53 PM
The whole thing lends to an 'epic' feeling when it's pulled off well. George R.R. Martin's books are like this.As another data point, I stopped reading "A Song of Fire and Ice" after the second one, because I just couldn't keep track of all the characters. (I stopped reading Robert Jordan at about the same time, though I'd already read more of his novels.)

Of course Martin then went and *seriously* depopulated the cast in the third book =>, but I still didn't go back to them.

As long as a writer is aware of the risks, of course, there's nothing wrong with big sprawling books.

ChunkyC
02-23-2005, 11:30 PM
Sounds pretty cool, Dave. The only thought I can add is that you might want to be careful that the disparate threads and characters you plan to return to later in the same book don't cool off so much that the reader 'forgets' about them by the time they come back in to the story.

mdin
02-24-2005, 01:30 AM
As another data point, I stopped reading "A Song of Fire and Ice" after the second one, because I just couldn't keep track of all the characters. (I stopped reading Robert Jordan at about the same time, though I'd already read more of his novels.)

Of course Martin then went and *seriously* depopulated the cast in the third book =>, but I still didn't go back to them.

As long as a writer is aware of the risks, of course, there's nothing wrong with big sprawling books.

Yeah, I admit to forgetting who was who on a number of occassions. But that giant family tree list in the back was muy helpful.

<shameless promotion>In my first book, here (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1931095515) I have twelve story lines going on at once, and I have more than twenty POV characters. I had to go through about ten readers before I finally killed most of the reader confusion issues. We also decided to put an index and appendix in the back, and people have indicated that helped. It was definitely a lot of hard work, and a good deal of it happened after the first draft was finished.</shameless promotion>

Jamesaritchie
02-25-2005, 08:38 AM
Right now, I'm concerned about how I'm writing one particular manuscript.

In essence, it's a lot like watching the movie The Longest Day where there are many characters who each have a role in what is clearly a larger picture. The story I'm writing has multiple characters in different locations. Only a few characters come into contact with others. Others are connected by those who do.

By the way, the scene changes within each chapter are frequent. In other words, each chapter is not devoted to only one locale and set of characters. A character might appear in several scenes within one chapter and then not reappear until a few chapters later. What I'm trying to portray is activities taking place at the same time in different places since the story isn't at all like a boardgame where sides take turns moving. Also I'm implying the passage of time when a character isn't mentioned since I doubt that anyone wants to read how a character does goes about his routine until he arrives at a new location where new encounters take place.

Basically, I'd like to know how others view this style.

Sounds like typical saga style to me. All this happens in many very long novels I've read. When done right, it makes for some of my favorite reads.

preyer
03-05-2005, 12:29 PM
i was having similar issues with my last WIP, which i compounded moreso by having the two main characters live in different eras. then i found it dramatically (i felt) more engaging to have the past character's story jump around to a certain extent. it leaned more towards sensational romance than anything else, so i won't bore y'all with the details, but i sympathize, believe me. while i don't consider any of it outstanding work, i thought most of it was pretty entertaining, the key for me being able to work out the shifts. i also approached it from the perspective that i wanted each section ending to remain unresolved like a cliffhanger when possible, though i admit i felt i needed to wrap certain parts up before i did merely to give the reader a break and a chance to relax. for a minute.

another issue that's already been mentioned, and i'd never had a problem until that story, was the number of characters. while the characters were strong and each had a personality, i started losing confidence in the sheer cast size and wondered where i could start cutting them out. unlike most of my stories, it's not replete with death. a few die in mid-stream, but not a significant number. i save their deaths for the last chapter, titled 'the deaths.' (i hate unnamed chapters :))

so, for both our sakes, i hope these things are workable. it requires more devotion on the reader's part, that's a major reason why i put it on the back burner, because i didn't think a publisher would be interested in it as a first effort as much as a single book. being already published, i'm sure you're in the catbird's seat there.