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Switching MCs across a series

(I've posted about this over at the Blueboard as well, so apologies if you see it twice.)

Over the past few days I've been struggling to figure out the basics of what will happen in the sequels to my current WIP, which I've been thinking of as a trilogy. I'm starting to come around to the idea that maybe the second and third books will follow the same group of characters, but have different characters as the real protagonist (and 3rd person viewpoint character). E.g., the first book has J as the protagonist/viewpoint character, the second book would have S, and I might split the 3rd book between T and N.

I'm thinking this mostly because I'm having trouble figuring out what J's character arc would be for the second book (let alone the third)--there's definitely still plot stuff that needs to be explored after the end of the first book, but he's already done a lot of growing. Whereas the other characters have more possibilities.

I'm wondering--how do people feel about this in a series? I know I usually prefer to stay with one MC, because I get to like them and so want to stay in their head. But it seems to have worked in series like Shannon Hale's Bayern books. Is there anything you definitely need for this to work for you? Anything that would completely turn you off from continuing a series like that?

And does anyone know any other good YA examples of series like this (like the Bayern books) where the plot has a similar focus from one book to the next but from a different character's POV in each?


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 20th, 2009 02:20 pm (UTC)
Although not YA, Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld books do this, and do it well.

I have no problem with a switch of MC, as long as we get the follow up needed. I dislike having a series switch to a different MC, without addressing any of the outstanding issues for the original MC or barely mentioning them at all.

Just my 0.02 Canadian. :-)
Jan. 22nd, 2009 01:21 am (UTC)
I've been meaning to read that series! All the more reason, now. :)
Jan. 20th, 2009 02:31 pm (UTC)
Just give me a reason to love the POV and I'll accept it. (And in fact, it can be a little fun to see the original book's character though different eyes.)
Jan. 22nd, 2009 01:27 am (UTC)
Yes, I was thinking it'd be interesting to see the original MC more from the outside. Thanks for your thoughts!
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Jan. 22nd, 2009 01:28 am (UTC)
Oh, the second MC would definitely relate back to the first--she's the love interest in the first book (and one of the most important characters). And that's a good point about it giving readers a chance to find a narrator they relate to more!
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Jan. 22nd, 2009 02:04 pm (UTC)
I've had several short stories published--the most recent ones (which are still a few years old) are listed on my website here. At least one of them you can find online. (I'm actually planning on putting the full text of them on my site at some point, too.)

My first (published) novel, GIVE UP THE GHOST, will be coming out this fall (probably August). It's a paranormal YA. I've got another paranormal YA being considered by my publisher right now and two fantasy YAs at various stages of revision (one of which is the one this post was about :) ).
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Jan. 23rd, 2009 12:34 am (UTC)
I don't mind at all! I majored in psychology, with healthy doses of English and history on the side. :)
Jan. 20th, 2009 02:52 pm (UTC)
Melissa Marr has done this with her books - they're all linked, but with alternating POVs across the series. It definitely works for me. :)

Good luck, and have fun!
Jan. 22nd, 2009 01:28 am (UTC)
Yes, I remembered that after I first posted. It seems that there are many more current series that do this than I realized!
Jan. 20th, 2009 03:14 pm (UTC)
I actually was thinking about doing the same thing! there is a character in Lipstick who is a secondary character, but I can totally see a new book sort of spinning from an incident that happens to her in Lipstick. so I say go for it!
An example I can think of where this worked was not a YA book, but an adult chick lit - But in Emily Giffins first book Something Borrowed the main character is in love with her best friend's fiance. Then in the second book Something Blue, the main character is now the best friend - the story revists some of the first book, but through the other characters POV.
Jan. 22nd, 2009 01:29 am (UTC)
Thanks for the example--those two books sound pretty neat. :)
Jan. 20th, 2009 03:17 pm (UTC)
The Bayren books are more the same world than the same set of characters... Isi is pretty minor in ENNA BURNING, for instance. But I did think that worked.

Another that worked would perhaps be Pullman's HIS DARK MATERIALS, where we get THE GOLDEN COMPASS from Lyra's intoxicating POV, and then THE SUBTLE KNIFE mostly from Will's, as I recall. I was a little disappointed to leave Lyra, but in the end thought that decision made for a great second book.

You might talk to my James about this. His UNWRITTEN BOOKS trilogy does exactly what you're talking about -- Book one is Rosemary's arc, book two is Peter's, and the POV shifts accordingly.

In think you're on the right track in that the POV should stick with the arc....
Jan. 22nd, 2009 01:30 am (UTC)
I didn't realize that the His Dark Materials shifted narrators (I still haven't read past THE GOLDEN COMPASS *ashamed face*). Will have to take a look at that. Thanks! :)
Jan. 20th, 2009 03:35 pm (UTC)
Lynn Viehl's Darkyn series (a modern take on vampires - they've got a disease/virus) has a different pair for each book, with the couple from the first book in each book thereafter for the over-arching series plot.

I think it makes a huge amount of sense - as everyone seems to have *their* story that wants to be told.
Jan. 22nd, 2009 01:31 am (UTC)
Sounds like an interesting series--I'll have to take a look. Thanks!
Jan. 20th, 2009 06:10 pm (UTC)
I don't mind a MC switch for the next book in a series, I just need to be warned upfront that the book will center around one of the other characters instead of the original character. I also need to like the new MC character.
What the others said about tying back to the original character is a good idea so that it doesn't feel like the original MC we became attached to becomes a stranger (if that makes sense).
Jan. 22nd, 2009 01:32 am (UTC)
The new MC would definitely not be a stranger (she's one of the most important characters in the first book). But that's definitely what I'd be most concerned about--disappointing people who might come to the second book expecting it to be about the original narrator. Thanks for your thoughts!
Jan. 20th, 2009 11:08 pm (UTC)
One of my favorite series as a kid used that technique -- but in her case, she wrote about a family using one character in four books and that character's niece in the last two. I actually prefer the niece as MC, but it was fun to read all of them because I did learn about the older characters (which might be why I preferred the niece, come to think of it).
Jan. 22nd, 2009 01:32 am (UTC)
Yes, I didn't realize until after I posted just how many kids and YA series do this!
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Jan. 22nd, 2009 01:33 am (UTC)
Ah, cool, I've read HIDDEN TALENTS so now I may have to pick up TRUE TALENTS to see how he worked it. :)
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

My Books

Earth & Sky
(Earth & Sky #1, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2014

The Clouded Sky
(Earth & Sky #2, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2015

A Sky Unbroken
(Earth & Sky #3, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2015

The Way We Fall
(Fallen World #1, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2012

The Lives We Lost
(Fallen World #2, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2013

The Worlds We Make
(Fallen World #3, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2014

Those Who Lived: Fallen World Stories
(Fallen World #3.5, apocalyptic YA)
self pubbed, 2014

Give Up the Ghost
(paranormal YA)
Henry Holt, 2009

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