Nine characters are a lot for readers to keep track of. They may find it more difficult to bond with a single character and stick with him or her throughout a novel. Despite these drawbacks, I decided to take a risk with this book and use multiple points of view (POV).
My purpose in this book was not merely to tell a story. Instead, I wanted to show how one event can reverberate like echoes in a canyon, affecting each person differently. Within the life of a family in the real world, a single event can influence and change the lives of members in vastly disparate ways depending on a broad range of factors. I wanted to capture that effect in The Shots. Thus, a gun in the hand of a twelve-year-old boy that accidentally misfires alters his life in ways that his sixteen-year-old sister cannot imagine. One of the bullets from that same gun impacts the victim in other, profound ways. Those, in turn, affect the victim’s mother as she learns to adjust to a new reality: her child will never be the same as he was before.
Each section of the book, told in close third person POV (with the exception of one character’s experiences, told in first person POV through journal entries), allows readers to experience how a shooting might bear upon the characters in different ways. Hopefully readers will sympathize with characters they don’t normally feel close to.
One danger for a writer choosing this technique? Getting stuck in the reactions of so many characters and losing the storyline. I’ve worked hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. The Shots represents approximately six months in the lives of the Burke and Henderson families. With that in mind, I’ve presented each chapter in chronological order so readers know that, while X is struggling with one problem three months after the shooting takes place, Y is experiencing a different repercussion, and Z quite another as events unfold. The results of the two gunshots are not static, but ever-evolving, twining this way around the life of one character while tripping up another.
Will readers have favorite characters? Surely. The Game of Thrones is similarly told through nine POVs (including Will’s in the prologue). Despite this format, I’m sure readers connect to the character(s) they identify with in various ways.
My hope is that one or more of these distinct characters will resonant with readers. That’s one of the intriguing aspects of fiction.