Friday, March 29, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

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Entwined Chapters

As I send off my cover letter, synopsis, and pages to the editor I mentioned last week, it is with this thought: what will she think of using alternating POV chapters?

After having read and enjoyed numerous novels where the author chose to alternate chapters with different points of view, I decided to implement that method for my story.

These books are great examples of writing with this method:

The Wanderer, by Sharon Creech. In this middle grade novel the author alternates chapters between the female protagonist's point of view and the male secondary character's point of view. Ms. Creech skillfully revealed important points (and secrets) in her plot to the reader that each of her characters was not always aware. The author was also able to reveal each character's back story to the reader, but kept it from the other character. By doing so, she drew the reader in as the third (all-knowing) member of the story - awesome! (I also like this example since The Wanderer is a Newbery Honor winner - clearly alternating POV chapters can work in a middle grade novel.)

The Body Finder, by Kimberly Derting. In this young adult novel the author alternates chapters between the female protagonist's point of view and the male antagonist's (murderer's) point of view. In my mind, Ms. Derting's book is the best example of creating tension with this approach that I have personally read. Since I alternated chapters in my MG manuscript with the protagonist and the antagonist, this example has been of great value to me. (It was a thrill for me to meet Kimberly Derting last year!)

Requiem, by Lauren Oliver. This recently-released young adult novel is an excellent example of successfully alternating chapters. Ms. Oliver alternated chapters between two characters that in essence were both main characters/protagonists. Using this method allowed the author to create suspense and tension, and also to propel her plot. Requiem became more textured and fully developed as each chapter was woven into the next, creating a dynamic finale to her Delirium series.( Lauren Oliver is one of my favorite authors not only because she is so talented, but because she also writes middle grade novels: Liesl and Po, and The Spindlers.)

The reason each of these authors was able to use the alternating chapter method so successfully (in my mind) was because each of them also entwined the chapters. What I mean by that, is that the chapters were metaphorically braided together, so that by the finale it was one, fused, super chapter, if you will. That was the real challenge for me in writing my novel with this method: writing entwined chapters, not just parallel chapters. That is one of the aspects of my novel that I am anxious to receive feedback on.

What is your favorite novel featuring alternating POV chapters?


  1. The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante is one of my favorites, Victoria. My daughter also read it and enjoyed the alternating POV chapters. Have a great Good Friday. :)

    1. Thanks, Linda. Hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend!