Help with antagonist's goals and using multiple POVs.

Question: Wondering if anyone with great wisdom can help me...


I have 2 problems really that have pretty much stopped me writing anything decent for a few weeks. I'm on my first ever novel and have no experience with writing apart from trawling the internet for advice and articles.

1) I feel my story will span over a few books because there is so much to tell. So I don't really want to "present" my antagonist until near the end of the first novel. Instead she tricks another character into doing her bidding as the world she wants to take control of is protected from her, but only for now.

However, as I write I'm finding the antagonist's story goal less than intriguing and if I'm honest very samey and cliché in comparison to so many other stories: She wants to destroy the institution for what happened to her as a child as payback. Now, one of the MCs will ironically share this passion to destroy the status quo, or at least part of it after what she goes through herself so I think that's a decent link there. However, the antag has to murder the last living heir in order to take full control of a state that has wronged her so she can run it better.

2) This is the "In over my head" part: I have a good few characters who are geographically separated throughout the story. I have been writing the chapters as multiple POV's (Every chapter sees a diff POV - like GRRMartin) I'm just wondering if this is ridiculous to try and manage for my first ever book?

I have no prior writing experience but now that I've been mulling this over for over two years, writing bits here and there, it's like I owe it to the book and myself to finish it now. There's no question, I have to finish it.

I really don't think I can write it any other way other than using multiple POVs. It seems to be working fine up until the point where I suddenly realized my antagonist's goals started to feel flat and boring. (See point 1 above) I want her to be feared tremendously, with an air of mystery what with not been seen in years etc. and I don't want to write her POV as to give away what she is thinking etc but there are at least five to six other characters that are or will be linked together. This seems like a good sign to me although they are not linked together by the antagonist but will turn out to be.

So I suppose my two questions boil down to: Is there possibly a way to spice up my antagonist's goal? I have her backstory tucked away in the corner of my brain somewhere but I think revenge has just been done to death at this stage or am I being
too hard on myself?

And

Am I being completely crazy to attempt multiple POVs on my first novel?

If anyone has any advice I'd really appreciate it.

Thank you very much!!

Answer:

First, regarding the use of multiple POV characters, keep in mind that each POV character is the hero of his/her own story.

Often it helps to map out a timeline for each person's story. You want to make sure you have a clear dramatic arc for each character's storyline. The basic pattern for a dramatic arc being...

1. Setup/initial approach: Show who they are at the beginning of the story, how they handle problems, etc. before the events of the overall story have a chance to pressure them.

2. Complication/Growth: Show how tackling the challenges of the story pressure them to change, consider a different approach, doubt themselves, etc.

3. Move to Crisis: Show how the character is forced into a position where they must decide whether to double down on their old approach or take a leap of faith and try a different approach.

4. Judgement: Show whether the character made the right choice by how they ended up. Are they happier, more at peace, better off, etc. or not at the end of the story.

You might also have a timeline for the external events of the story -- the actions of the villain and other characters and reactions to those deeds.

The process of braiding these separate storylines into one complete timeline will give you an outline for your story that can guide the writing process and help you spot ahead of time where any plot problems may lie.

Especially, look for places where the various story lines will merge (most likely at the crisis, but other crossovers may occur).

As for whether you should use multiple POV characters, you have to ask yourself what contribution each character's perspective makes to the story. If a character's contribution is not necessary, it might be better to omit it.

A trade-off exists in which having more POV characters provides the reader with a broader perspective but less intimate connection with the main character. On the other hand, fewer POV characters (or just one) provides a more intimate experience but a narrower perspective. You have to decide what's best for your story.

Finally, it helps if you can give each of your POV characters a distinct and appealing voice.

As for the question of your antagonist seeking revenge...

Yes, revenge is an old (or perhaps tried-and-true) motivation for a villain. I think the trick for making it authentic is to make it specific.

It is the specific details of your character, her life, and her personality that create authenticity. Make her story and her need for revenge specific and unique to her. A villain appears to be a cartoon when the writer fails to make her unique and simply relies on cliches as a shortcut.

Best of luck.

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