Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Guest Post - The Death of Us by Alice Kuipers


Today, I have the pleasure of having author Alice Kuipers here on the blog to talk about writing from multiple perspectives in her new novel, The Death of Us. So without further ado, here is what Alice had to say.

Today, I’m posting about writing a story from multiple perspectives. The Death of Us is written from the points of view of three main characters — Ivy, Kurt and Callie. The shift from one character to the next starts at the very beginning and follows that pattern throughout the novel. It was really tricky to write and there were times during the process that I wondered what I’d got myself into with this structure. Here are the three things that were most difficult:

1 — I had to make each character sound different and unique. If, at any point, they started to blur in my head, I had to step away front eh book and spend a bit of time with the character I was working on. I used character interviews and tried to think about how the story seemed from that character’s perspective. I could hear the characters in my head clearly if I made time to do this, so that helped, but it wasn’t always easy.

2 — The book also shifts through time and it wasn’t until a later draft that I realized keeping that as simple as possible was going to help me and a reader navigate this story. Now, I hope, it all works well, but moving from Kurt to Callie to Ivy WHILE not following a chronology made for some messy earlier drafts.

3 — Hardest of all was making each character feel like the star of their own story. As a writer, it’s natural to feel closer to one character, and, initially, that character was Callie. But as I redrafted, I started to really see the story from the points of view of Kurt and Ivy and I think that’s when the book finally came into focus.

All this to say, that the writing process was much harder than anything I’ve tried before. Although in my first book, Life on the Refrigerator Door, I shift from Claire to her mother in the notes they write to each other, jumping from two to three characters was infinitely more challenging. And even more fun. Once I got into it, the writing was exciting. I hope readers feel that excitement and natural tension on the page. There’s nothing more thrilling for a writer than the moments when the story begins to take off. All the hard work and character interviews and complications faded, and The Death of Us came to life. So, yes, it was hard work, but it was very satisfying.

If any of you are writers yourselves and you’re trying out multiple points of view, have a look at the character workshops I’ve posted on my website under Classroom. It might seem silly to know that your character loves sushi and doesn’t believe in the death penalty, but actually having all that texture and detail in your mind will make for a richer writing experience.

Thanks, Emilie, for hosting me today as The Death of Us heads out into the big wide world. It’s nerve-wracking and exciting having a new book out and I’m glad to make a stop with you on the blog tour. I really appreciate the support. 

And thank you to Alice Kuipers for taking the time to share insights on writing from multiple points of view. If you missed it earlier this morning, be sure to check out my review of The Death of Us to find out more about my thoughts on this fantastic book.


About the book:
A recovered friendship, a dark secret, and a love triangle with a deadly angle…

Callie is shocked when her friend Ivy reappears after an unexplained three-year absence, but the girls pick up where they left off, and suddenly Callie’s summer is full of parties, boys and fun. Beneath the surface, things aren’t what the seem, however, when a handsome boy with a dark past gets tangled up with Ivy, the girls’ history threatens to destroy their future.


About the author:
Alice Kuipers is the bestselling, award-winning author of three previous novels, Life on the Refrigerator Door, The Worst Thing She Ever Did and 40 Things I Want To Tell You, and the picture book Violet and Victor Write The Best-Ever Bookworm Book. Her work has been published to critical acclaim in twenty-nine countries. She lives in Saskatoon. Find her here: www.alicekuipers.com


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