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weeveeship's avatar

What would be the best way to organize this story (see details)

Asked by weeveeship (4632points) October 22nd, 2010

A story I am working on has at least three protagonists with equal time. My story is realistic fiction and can best be described as a chronicle of events in a fictional universe. The protagonists have a common goal but rarely team up. I was wondering how I should organize this story.

One way I could do it is to use Michael Shaara’s “Killer Angels” approach and have each chapter focus on one character, leading up to the climax (Pickett’s Charge in Shaara’s book).

Another way I could do it would be to use a vignette style. This allows me to write shorter stories about each of the characters. Problem is, people might forget about one character when I move on to the others.


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5 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I like the first approach in which you write about one character per chapter. For me as a reader that’s less confusing. You can add a phrase at the beginning of each chapter which will clue the reader that you’re returning to a previous character.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Your second approach sounds a lot like Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. It’s a book of short stories set in a fictional Maine town and about Olive… and people who intersect with her life in various ways.

lillycoyote's avatar

John Dos Passos, in his U.S.A Trilogy, does some absolutely wonderful things; he uses a number of narrative techniques to tell the stories of 12 different characters who only occasionally cross paths. Have you read it? Just a great piece of American fiction, at least in my opinion, and it might give you some ideas on how to approach your story/stories.

U.S.A. link 1

U.S.A. link 2

Rubrica's avatar

Technically, the first option is probably best, as it would be the least confusing. However, the second option would, I think, make for a really interesting book, and you might want to give it a go!

Zyx's avatar

The Age Of Unreason by Greg Keyes juggles a great number of characters and scenes in a way that keeps me interested all the way through despite characters I would have despised on their own.

He basically uses different chapters for different characters as long as they’re in different locations and tells most of the story in chronological order. Secondary characters meet up with the protagonists at different times and though the main characters remain seperate you really get to feel they’re living in the same world.

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