Another voice


As I’ve been working through my draft, chopping and changing and adding and tweaking, there’s something I haven’t quite been able to reconcile.

On one level, this novel is a thriller. Something bad is happening – right from the beginning. Except my protagonist doesn’t know about it, and we’re seeing things from her point of view. I need to create a growing sense of dread, a sense that all is not right in the world – but from Grace’s perspective, for the majority of the time at least, everything is unfolding as it should. There are moments where her intuition tells her to be careful, but it’s hard to really work these without things seeming ham-fisted. And besides, she’s not stupid: if she was really uneasy then she wouldn’t take the steps she needs to for everything to pan out as it does.

When I was in the planning stages I thought perhaps I could tell the story through multiple voices, weave the different versions of reality through. I soon concluded that this wouldn’t work, that it would give too much away where I wanted to leave the reader guessing.

Except now I’m not so sure…

I wrote a character exercise last week to explore things as my antagonist sees them, and it turns out his voice is so strong that I don’t think I can silence it. He can’t have equal airtime in the novel – it is not really him that this story is about – but I think there can be flashes, moments of insight into the dark mind at work behind the scenes that will colour the reader’s interpretation of the rest.

That’s where I’m at right now anyway. I’m going to see what happens if I let him have his say at a few key points, whether I can manage to craft his interludes so they create that sense of dread without giving too much away. If I can pull it off it should add an element of dramatic irony as things unfold, give the reader a smidgen more knowledge than Grace has herself to filter their reactions to her through.

And if nothing else then just the process will give me more of an insight into what’s driving him, and that can be no bad thing.


Muddled Manuscript

11 thoughts on “Another voice

  1. Mummy Tries

    That idea is inspired hon, and will only strengthen your USP. If you can pull off his voice being the narrator, even though the story is about Grace then you are one clever lady (I have no doubt in my mind that you won’t btw) xx #whatimwriting

  2. redpeffer

    I like the sound of this-I think it could work very well. Although I can see how it might be problematic for you trying to weave it in cohesively. But I think once you start that might find its own natural path perhaps.

  3. maddy@writingbubble

    That sounds like an excellent idea to me! Having read the extract you posted the other day I can really see it working. We know he’s up to something nasty but we don’t know what. I can imagine that adding a creeping sense of dread into the background of any scene.

    I’ve just read a book which used multiple viewpoints badly though. All the suspense was taken away because we knew who the ‘Mr Bad’ was and what he was up to. A scene where he tried to call the main protagonist’s sanity into doubt fell completely flat because we KNEW he was lying – but without his POV the reader could have been left doubting everything which would have been so much more thrilling! I guess that sort of thing is what you have to guard against, but I’m sure you can do it! Thanks for linking to #WhatImWriting

  4. Virtually All Sorts (@AllSortsHere)

    Wow, so the experiment you did and shared has taken you down a slightly different path to the one you had planned out. It’s certainly worth bearing in mind for my future writing, I think. Thanks Sophie! You plan far more than me… Maybe I should take a leaf out of your book!#WhatImWriting

  5. deskmonkeymummy

    I read this and immediately knew Maddy was going to mention THE BOOK OF DOOM. In this book (as she probably said) the author managed to give away the entire plot by having multiple POVs which left no room for suspense and made the weak main character seem even more feeble.
    Personally I always try to see things from one person’s POV and never deviate because I find the voices get jumbled and then I end up with a mix of brown boring nothing, but it can definitely be done.
    Looks like you’re breaking all the rules with this one! Can’t wait to read more and thank you for linking up to #whatimwriting x

  6. Nicola Young

    I just read a book called Without You, by Sasha Sarginson and she uses multiple view points. There is a mixture of narratives as well, which is unusual, but it worked. Sometimes you need to hear the character’s voice and other times you need to be ‘told’ what is happening. I would never have thought to put the two together in the same story and it might be difficult to pull off, but it didn’t distract in any way, in this particular case.

  7. Emily Organ

    I think that’s a good idea, it’s hard to create impending doom when you can only rely on one character’s POV. It’s possible I’m sure, but if your antagonist seems like strong character then use him too I reckon. Does that mean a lot of rewriting from first person into third person? Eek!

  8. Morgan Prince

    Even if this fab idea doesn’t work out then it’s a great exercise, like you said. I enjoy reading books with multiple POV’s, I know it’s a very difficult job but I’m sure if you put your mind to it you can pull it off. 🙂

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