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Gigi Will Know: Characters’ perspectives

Gigi advises a reader on how to handle multiple perspectives in writing a novel.

An illustrated crab with sassy blue glasses wields a pencil in one raised claw.
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Two characters’ perspectives. How do you handle it?

Hi Gigi,

I am currently working on a novel between two characters’ perspectives, and I’ve been struggling with how to write it, whether in chronological order or writing each character’s story separately with the plan to merge in revision. I’ve tried both and have struggled with both. Any advice would be much appreciated.

—Of Two Minds

Dear Two Minds,

Writers are a funny bunch. You all have unique brains and unique ideas. It’s pretty important to know that what works for one writer doesn’t work for another, so let’s start there. I want to want to add that yours truly hates binaries: Your either/or proposition above is giving me the hives.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and there are definitely more ways to approach this very cool quandary than the two you’ve posited above. Have you tried something more freeform, like letting each character take over for a day of the week and seeing what happens? Or maybe writing out the plot points ahead of time and seeing which character is responsible for which action, and then going from there?


My point is this: don’t fall into the either/or trap. Let your big, beautiful brain come up with lots of possibilities and see where that leads your writerly process.

You mentioned revision: Anything that happens in this draft will likely change in the revision, as you point out above, so I wouldn’t fret so much over how you do it just now, either. I’ll posit that it’s probably most important for you to get clarity, if you don’t already have it, on which parts of the plot each character is going to take under their wing. And if you have already figured out who’s going to do what and when they should each appear, then I’ll posit that it’s second-most-important for you to go with your gut and work on the character that is calling to be worked on at that moment.

Respect your personal process,