This is going to be quite a technical blog. You see I’ve been working on a new book called (for the time being) Forbidden Friends. The story is about two families touched, in different ways, by the same tragedy. The main characters are Bee and Lizzie, two 12 year olds who have become very close friends, unaware of the tragic history their families share.
The story is told by Bee, in the first person, and up until a few weeks ago it was going quite well. But then disaster struck and I ground to a total halt. I simply couldn’t write another word, and I’m working to a pretty strict deadline.
I mooched around, devoid of ideas, empty of all creativity and thoroughly miserable. And then I realised what the problem was. I wanted to know how the story played out for Lizzie as much as I wanted to know how it played out for Bee. The tragedy touched both the girls families and yet I was only getting one point of view. Everytime something happened, I wanted to follow Lizzie home and find out how her family were reacting rather than find out second hand from Bee.
So I started to write Lizzie chapters as well as Bee chapters, and suddenly the story was flowing again. I called my agent and discussed this development and while she understood my reasons she was worried. She said in her experience, when books were written with two main characters telling the story, the reader was likely to relate to one character more, skimming through the chapters written by the second character. So I was wondering what other people felt about that.
Have you read books written in this way? Secrets is one, by Jacqueline Wilson. It’s narrated by Treasure and India. Each Treasure chapter followed by an India chapter.
Both my boys read it and enjoyed it. I asked them if they’d favoured one character over the other but they said they were too caught up in the story to notice and maybe that’s the key. If the story is good enough, perhaps it doesn’t matter.
I do realise it’s an additional skill, to write the story from two points of view, with two voices and two characters who you want your readers to fall in love with. Can it be done? I’m not sure, but I’m going to give it a try.
Would really love to hear what you guys think…..
I think it offers some variety and I actually enjoy reading (and writing) in this whay. Me and my best friend wrote a story when we were 10 that had the same kind of feel to it. An accident in which one saved the other but the other had no recollection of the accident and so got extremely upset when she found out that everyone was keeping it from her. She became an investigator and decided she needed to know who and that was what the second book was mainly about until the boy went back to his mother and abusive step-dad. Basically, what I’m saying is I thing it’s good to get 2 points of view so you can feel more part of the story. I find it much more interesting. Good luck with the book 🙂
I’ve read afew books that tell the story from two points of veiw.
Blood-Ties – Sophie Meckenze
Blood-Ransom – by her too.
Extreme Kissing – Luisa Paja
I must say, you get into the story quicker i think when its told by two people, i would’nt worry. Those books i said, i ADORE cuz they’re so brillent and written so perfectly. I think we’d all read it anyway, cuz your brillent and you can do anything if you put your mind to it.
Laura x ❤
Your story sounds brilliant!
Double Act by Jacqueline Wilson is kind of like that, but each sister doesn’t have their own chapter, they keep on butting into each other’s chapters.
I find books like that really good!
Rick Riordan has done a few books like that.
The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles)
The Throne of Fire (The Kane Chronicles)
are both related by two siblings, Carter and Sadie Kane. The first two chapters are Carter’s, the second two chapters are Sadie’s and so on.
Also by him
The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus)
Jason, Piper and Leo each relate two chapters. So it’s Jason, Jason, Piper, Piper, Leo, Leo, Jason, Jason, and so on.
The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus)
Percy, Hazel and Franck each relate 4 chapters.
I find it makes the book more interesting, and find it better because you get to know a character personally, and know the person from another person’s point of view-I hope that makes sense!
It looks like Jacqueline Wilson enjoys doing this kind of thing, as she has also written Little Darlings with different narrators in each chapter. The other day I was reading some of it’s reviews on Amazon and people were prefering different characters. I think the trick is to have a strong storyline and strong characters.
I think with two or more charcter one for each chapter. It make the book more interesting and its not confusing it just makes the reader think more which is good.
I’ve read secrets and I also don’t have a favourite character.
thanks for your relies guys…really helpful. My son who’s 10 read the first few chapters of my Forbidden Friends book and he said, at the moment, he thinks the two girls are a bit too similar so I think I’ve got some work to do there!
I once wrote a story where I made 3 brothers my narrators and gave them a chapter each. Like you, I hadn’t planned to write the story that way… it just sort of happened. The boys were 11, 9 and 5.
Samuel, the 5-year-old, was especially fun to write about.
The book I’m working on at the moment poses a different challenge. I’m in Ty ( my central character’s) head all the time, so I can only see what he sees. The fun thing about that is I’m learning about the characters- and Ty’s feelings for/about them- as he does. So, there’s always a suprise just around the corner.
For me two main characters telling the story from their point of view works if I love both the characters.
I read a brilliant book recently, Taking Flight by Sheena Wilkinson which has two main characters. I loved Declan and hated Vicky, who was a spoilt brat. I really struggled with her chapters at first and only kept reading because the story was so gripping.
Good luck with the deadline.
That’s interesting Julie. I’ve written a book (not published) with two main characters, each telling their own story. The two stories have an ever increasing overlap until the two – a boy and a girl from opposite ends of town – meet. I started off feeling more empathy with the girl but finished up much more in tune with the boy. I think that was because I did so many drafts. I’m writing another similar book now – also for 12+ but this time with 2 girls. They have their own separate stuff to deal with but they also have each other to deal with. I’m strongly bearing in mind what you said about making sure you like BOTH narrators. In fact I just made the decision yesterday(!) to turn one girl’s chapters into 3rd person so I can help her make her case, as there IS a small risk the reader might not like her!
I’ve read some books told by two main characters and I always really enjoy them. I’ve never had a problem liking one character more than the other – as long as they bring something to the story you’ll be fine.
Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls series is told from different characters POV and it’s one of my all time favourite series’.
I’d say if that’s what you feel you need to go with then do it. It will make the story better in the end.
Good luck with the deadline. x
This is gona b a short reply as i’m typing on my phone!
so, all i’l say is:
YOur book sounds FAB and fab post!
Soz bout short comment and about my bad spelling! X
At a computer now! Wow. My grammar and spelling was AWFUL!! Sorry!! 🙂
Summer Camps Secrets, New Girl, has BRILL change of narration! It’s awesome cos there are emails and blog posts that change the narrator!!
Summer Camp secrets doesn’t Ella…
I’m SO excited about this book, because I LOVE books like that…
Lots of books written in that style are either AMAZING – like, yes, Secrets by Jacqueline Wilson or HORRENDOUS like Trash by Andy Mulligan. The narration needs to be perfect and unconfusing and switched in appropriate parts, which I’m sure you’ll do brilliantly, Anne-Marie, judging on your other books!
Looking forward to it!
PS: Please would you follow my blog, anyone? Thanks xxx
Trash was ummm, TRASH
thanks orli, what’s your blog called? How can we find it?
Just click on my name!
Thanks so much
Ella where are you? go on skype!
Excuse me. Is dinner disallowed? Don’t think I can go on tonight! Sorry!!
Three good books in a similar style:
1) A Bone From A Dry Sea: alternating chapters, between “Now” (either present or very near future, unspecified African country; focal character is Vinny, a paleontologist’s teenage daughter visiting him at the dig he’s working on, and she makes some important discoveries) and “Then” (4.5 million years ago, possible though unlikely Earth past; focal character is an adolescent female upright “sea-ape” referred to as Li though her people don’t have names or language, who sort of undergoes cenogenesis and develops an imagination and creative genius – starting with her idea for how to beach a shark which is preventing her troupe from fishing, and moving on to such things as splinting broken bones). Apparently the author wrote the “Now” chapters because a story with no dialogue didn’t read well as one long piece.
2) The Ear, The Eye and The Arm randomly switches every few chapters between three points of view: Tendai, oldest of the Matsika siblings, who have been kidnapped after leaving the grounds of their high-security home for the first time; Arm, one of three mutant detectives with enhanced senses, who are searching for the Matsika siblings; and Mrs Matsika, who is doing her best to help the detectives and stop her husband from tearing the city apart to find them (easy to do when you’re Chief of Security of the year 2194’s Zimbabwe).
3) The Kin is written in four segments within one large book, each from the point of view of a different child within one group of Paleolithic orphans – they often describe previous events from their own point of view, plus we see previous narrators “from the outside”.
this is a quick message for:
Hikma, Leah, Shakira and Ella,
I have introduced a subscribe by email system on my blog.
You’re all members which is so nice of you and thanks so much, but if you would like to get email updates when I post new blog posts, please do so.
Thanks for following my blog, and I would be so chuffed if anyone else subscribes/joins!
Yeah, I did!
Could you follow my blog…
yeah I have followed as well
can you also follow mine
I also wantedt to ask could I do a post on all my signed books as well. I’ll tell them about your blog!
Shakira, would it be possible to tell them about my blog, with a link, and say credit to me? Then, sure you can.
yeah That what I was going to do!
lots of books are written like that. and usually prefering one character over the other doesn’t matter, because you want to read the story. i often prefer characters anyway.
some great books written like that are grafitti moon by cath crowly, dare you by sue lawson, game of thrones, a little wanting song by cath crowly, pan’s whisper (extra tricky split there because one is all a girl’s memories) and triple ripple by brigid lowry.