Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Whose point of view?


How it can possibly be Wednesday again  is a mystery. The days have flown past but I've not entirely been idle. My current manuscript slowly grows and I've written a number of guest blog posts and a guest interview.

You can catch the interview at the One Stop Fiction Blog HERE.

And today I've posted an article on the Wranglers Blog about how many characters are too many in historical fiction? How does the author cope with lots of characters having sections where it's their point of view that's presented? You'll find that partially re-blogged below.

Pah! Too many characters?

Yesterday I posted a question on two of my Facebook places where I appealed to those who are readers. I asked them:

What would you consider to be the maximum amount of main characters you'd be comfortable with in a historical adventure novel?”

I had some excellent and varied replies. It might just be the particular friends who replied but I was delighted to find that a good number said they felt comfortable with at least 3 main characters and a few others who play minor roles. Since I’ve currently got a good cast of characters in my ongoing manuscript, I’m totally relieved! 

Only one person categorically said they preferred a novel to have only 2 main characters. I wasn’t surprised by that response because I’m fairly sure that person tends to prefer Historical Romances which have a slightly different remit from general historical novels. Speaking broadly, I’d say historical romance needs to have 2 main characters, the whole story being constructed around their developing romance. Another element to historical romance is that it must have a happy ending and the expected norm is the happy ever after is for those 2 main characters who will love each other forever.
Historical Novels are something else and it’s a genre that’s harder to define. Again, this is a broad definition (and may easily be disputed by many) but I think a historical novel needs a setting that’s in a period of history (often no earlier than 50 years before the publication of the novel) and is a story which conveys the day to day elements of the political, social and living conditions of the time. It’s a story which has realistic detail, is credible and faithful to the era as is known. It’s often centred on identified historical figures, or a known historical situation.

Historical Adventure is probably even harder to classify. Taking the ‘adventure’ part first—broadly speaking, it’s a series of events and challenges which happen out with the daily norm for the characters involved. The protagonists find themselves in unusual, sometimes unexpected situations of danger. There tends to be a lot of physical action involved as characters resolve their predicament. The historical context generally places the protagonists in a known era where they battle their wits against the conditions they find themselves in. This might make the elements of historical accuracy become overshadowed if the action happens to characters that are not known figures in history texts.

Add a dash of romance into the historical adventure and that means you have to have at least 2 of your characters involved in their developing relationship alongside a whole gamut of other happenings.

I asked the question on Facebook because I’ve a lot of characters in my current writing—Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series. When I began Book 2, I wasn’t well-planned enough to have decided if it was just a follow-on novel to Book 1. I quickly realised, though, that what was developing was going to become a series where the initial main characters in Book 1 would make reappearances in later books as the series progressed, though other family members would ‘take their turn’ at being the main characters in the subsequent books. As I write Book 4, my Garrigill Clan members will be familiar to readers of Books 1-3 so I’m almost ‘not counting’ them as notable characters since they play a supportive but fairly minor role.

When I eventually finish this novel, my dilemma will be whether to keep my 4 main characters and 1 other very important character who might feature in a fifth book of the series.
I intend to include a ‘cast of characters’ at the beginning of the novel, as I had in Book 3. I might even draw a family tree structure for my Garrigill kin.

What would your answer be to the question? 

What would you consider to be the maximum amount of main characters you'd be comfortable with in a historical adventure novel?”


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