- Jan 22, 2008
I’m in the process of writing a multi-volume, multi-POV story (unpublished, but I'm trying), although it’s much, much smaller than ASOIAF. Here’s how I’d try to do it:Say you are writer whose story encompasses multiple installments with the same number of PoVs at GOT. What do you do to keep it all together?
- Reduce the number of POVs to a manageable number (for me, 4 per book). That means reducing or tidying the number of storylines, and removing characters whose function is to observe the protagonist of a storyline as a counterpoint to the protagonist’s own POV. This may result in a loss of scale and opposing viewpoints, but it will make things much neater. It will also give the opportunity for some reader-pleasing carnage as the POVs are scaled down. However, some characters don’t need to be killed off: their POV simply wouldn’t crop up again if it was possible to include them in another person’s POV.
- Plot the storylines to intersect at important points. Whether by fate, design or just the nature of their jobs/personalities, characters will come together and either kill each other off (exciting) or form teams. The advantage of forming teams is that two characters working together can be written at half the length of two characters doing different things. “They both rode to the castle” is much shorter than “A rode to the castle, but B stayed to look for his sister”.
- Don’t introduce extra elements because you’ve got bored of the existing ones.
- Establish clear milestones and outcomes for the plot. For everyone, there needs to be an answer to the questions “What has to happen for this character’s story to conclude?” and “How do I achieve that?”
- Remove extraneous stuff, especially digressions not relevant to the outcome of the plot and lengthy descriptions of travel. I realise that this is difficult in an epic fantasy novel, and opinions of what constitutes a digression will vary.
However, it is worth saying that this is all much easier said than done. I am a much less experienced writer than Martin, and I would have been much more cautious in taking on such a big project, simply because I’d doubt my ability to finish it or control it properly.