This shifting of a novel’s emphasis is one of the many tools in an author’s armoury. It allows the author to create a cliff-hanger or two keeping the pages turning.
Character threads don’t have to be about the hero, victim or villain. Sometimes they can be of a minor character that has an important piece of information or sub-plot to share with readers.
These different threads can also be used to help with the ebb and flow of a novel and with the aforementioned cliff-hangers, are a great way of building a tension over a large amount of the novel.
The best example of a book which uses this technique is the second installment of Lord of the Rings (The Two Towers). Tolkien tells the reader three separate stories by interspersing the action between various characters that had been split up at the end of book one.
Authors may also use varying points of view between chapters to add different perspectives to the same thread or multiple threads. Matt Hilton (next week’s guest blogger) writes his main character in a first person POV and all others in a third person. This lets him have different threads while retaining the urgency of first person point of view.
When you analyse books as I do (I’m always trying to learn) then you can see the mechanics better and I cannot think offhand of many authors who continually write with just one character thread.
Any suggestions would be welcome.
P.S. It's Crime and Publishment this weekend. We still have a place or two available if anyone wants to attend.