I'm working on a novel about the psychological struggle of 7 characters. It's got an ensemble cast, where every character has the same importance. I've got a structure for this that sounds good to me, but seems different than most novel structures I'm familiar with; I want to know if my structure sounds workable and effective.
The premise is that a group of 6 travel to one city which is rumored to be safe from zombies.It isn't,and there another person saves them. Here is the catch: I want to distance myself from horror and delve into the minds of these people, who now have the time to form more intricate relationships. In the second part of the book, each character is broken, and each takes it in a different way.
Here's the structure I'm working with:
- In the first part of the book (which I've already written), the interactions are shallow with some spikes that show how they feel one for another,but in a world where you constantly run you don't even have the time to develop something more complex.
- In the second part (still unwritten), I want to analyze each character in one chapter. Each chapter destroys one character with a dramatic event,they discover or get past they're fears,only realising that the war for survival is not over,and so each having parts in all individual stories.The idea is that one dramatic story shakes the character completely,gives them a new enemy so to speak,a new reason to live.That conflict(which is the key part of my vision) should slowly change each chapter,and only after the final climax everybody should really know themselves.
My concern with this structure is that it may be confusing to readers. This structure has each chapter focusing on a different character, with the other characters developing more slowly in that chapter. Will readers "get" what I'm trying to do with this structure? Will they be able to follow along with so many characters, developing at such uneven paces? Are there improvements you'd suggest to my story structure, or perhaps a different structure entirely?
Here is an example of a single character arc,of the first character to transform.
John was always a drone,doing what others say.
- In his focus chapter, he is living with Elise(another survivor,not from the main cast,who is dying).She tells him not to go for help,because she wants the last moments of her life to be with a human.He is stubborn and against his principles tries to do something to save her,only to miss out on the last hours of her life.He is shocked and destroyed,but the best word would be lost.He is left with no path,and he must forge another.this is how his chapter ends.
- Chapter 2: While another character is tested,John realizes that he must serve,but not only one.he decides that he will do nothing until that special person appears.
- Chapter 3: the struggle doesn't go away,he just can't live alone even if he wants,so he decides to help them from the shadows.He is discovered at the end
- Chapter 4: the main character of this chapter becomes that hero he wishes for,so he begins to serve again without question
- Chapter 5: He is reminded of his loss,so he goes berserk killing zombies,becoming again just a soulless weapon.
- Chapter 6: again the circumstances make him struggle,he starts to feel again for another women,but he can't erase the pain from his hearth,and the fear that it will happen again.
- Chapter 7: the last one.A lot happens here,but in the end he realizes that everyone has a place in this world.He accepts his but without a women to live,just in his memory maybe,and the story ends...
This model would apply to all 7 characters: each character would have the center position in their own focus chapter, and developing gradually along their character arc in the other chapters. Again, my question is whether this structure sounds feasible, clear, and effective.
A) Each chapter has one person as the protagonist, but there are some bonus chapters. For example, after John's and Lily's chapters (first and second) there would be another one that focuses totally on the group and how the previous chapters affected them. This should be filled with conflict and written in a way to make people want to read further.
B) The second way is that the first time John plays the major role, but each chapter loses the significance of the protagonist a bit. In the second, John and Lily are the stars, in the third even Lucy has a bigger part (while others have minor parts, of course). Until the sixth chapter, where only one character gets left out a bit. And in the final chapter of course, everybody has the same role and every resolution is played out.
What do you think about these two possibilities?
Thank you for helping me be a little bit better!