I plan on writing a historical-fiction novel about the prophet Jeremiah and Daniel in both of their interesting lives, which took place at the same time. The view point will switch, but which one would grab your interest? Here are the two.
Jeremiah = Jeremiah has been called by God to become a prophet, and the Lord's only warning of a coming doom for Jerusalem. He must attempt to make the countless sinful Kings to see reason and to follow the ways of God once again. But this is not easy. Jeremiah faces both persecution from inside Jerusalem's walls and the knowledge that the Babylonian Empire can besiege Jerusalem any day if King Jehoiakim cannot see reason. With only his extremely faithful secretary, Baruch, to directly aid him, Jeremiah must wage a quit war against sin inside of the walls of a city that has been engulfed by it.
Daniel = Daniel is a young boy who, along with his three close friends Azariah, Hananiah, and Mishael, is mocked for his belief in God. Jerusalem has been plunged into sin and these three boys find life harder every day. Suddenly, one day, Nebuchadnezzar invades Jerusalem and Daniel and his three friends are taken captive. As they are held captive in Babylon's capitol they face countless trials and go through endless journeys in order to keep the Babylonian Kings in line.
So? Which will be more interesting in your eyes? Why?
[This message has been edited by Collin (edited April 20, 2009).]
To be honest I could go either way on this. I've already heard tons of stories of Daniel, so while he's a familiar face I wouldn't have very many surprises (aside from the ones you put in). Jeremiah on the other hand I don't think I've ever really heard anything about, aside from the general stuff you get force fed in Sunday School. I would be much more interested in his story, simply because it's new and I enjoy that period of time in Bible history.
That said, what's to keep you from using both? I've seen even first person POV books that have had multiple POV characters and they've been some of the most enjoyable.
*edit for silly spelling mistake*
[This message has been edited by Natej11 (edited April 20, 2009).]
When you say "historical fiction", do you intend to use historical sources besides the Hebrew Bible?.
If not (i.e, it will be a dramatization of the Bible story) I would be more interested in Jeremiah because I'm a little less familiar with his story, although I am quite familiar with both.
If so, I'd be most interested in whichever character/time period the most extra-biblical historical material is available for, especially if the POV of the story is someone other than the biblical characters themselves.
Neither viewpoint, to be honest. I can read their stories in the Bible.
What I would be interested in reading is a story set in this time period from an average Jew who witnesses these things firsthand. Jeremiah's secretary Baruch would be a fascinating POV character, as well as one of Daniel's friends.
As a point of reference, I'd encourage you to read Robert Harris' IMPERIUM -- which is the story of Cicero told from the viewpoint of his secretary.
I haven't read "Imperium." Did Robert Harris tell the story of Cicero's secretary, or did he tell the story of Cicero as seen through Cicero's secretary?
I've read through the Bible, though the ins and outs of its plot are not my strong points. But in a story like that of Daniel or Jeremiah, or both combined, the point of view would be whichever character is most deeply affected by the events---and the narrator, if it's not one of them or a neutral and anonymous viewpoint, should not distract from that view.
In IMPERIUM, the story of Cicero is told as seen through the eyes of Cicero's secretary.
I'm not sure if I agree that the best POV character for a story like this is the one most deeply affected by the events. We're dealing with two prophets -- two men who undergo tremendous suffering for the sake of their people and their God. These are people not easily identified with, and unless an author has a keen understanding into the religious mind, I'm not sure it's going to work all that well.
But if Collin presents these two prophets the story the way Arthur Conan Doyle presents Sherlock Holmes, he can have them maintain their spiritual otherness while at the same time deal with viewpoint characters who have to watch their friends takes roads that aren't easily discerned.
Well, in most (but not all) of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, we see what happens from Doctor Watson's point of view---if Holmes is doing something else, he either tells Watson (and us) about it, or Watson (or we) never learn(s) of it. Watson is the point-of-view character, and his view is largely-but-not-exclusively of Holmes-in-action.
I'm also reminded of a late 1930s or early 1940s Jack Williamson story, whose title has slipped my mind, where the narrator tells the story of and adventures of his father. Though the narrator is definitely a character in the story, the viewpoint is that of his father, and the narrator simply disappears for great stretches of the story.
If I were retelling the Daniel / Jeremiah stories, or telling them as one story, I'd be worried about losing the focus on either of them if I told it from the viewpoint of someone else, or losing that character if I picked up the Jeremiah / Daniel stories.
Actually, I think the POV question is solved by the themes Collin wants to write about.
Does he want to write about a person's struggle to do what he believes God is calling him to do? If so, that's the story of Daniel and Jeremiah.
He can either write this story from their POV (1st or 3rd) or use, as Robert suggested, a kind of invisible 1st-person narrator -- as Doyle does in the Sherlock Holmes stories.
But Collin could ALSO tell the stories of Daniel and Jeremiah in a way where an observer, which should be a close friend, is watching them, trying to understand what's happening to their friend.
This story can be told either from a 3rd-person POV or from a 1st-person POV.
But my only point in all of this is to answer Collin's question -- I wouldn't be interested in reading a story about Daniel or Jeremiah, regardless of POV. (Which is probably what I meant to say in my first post, but didn't.)
I would, however, be interested in reading a story set during their time in which the main story arc is about someone who has to watch Daniel and/or Jeremiah take the path they must take.
I'm not a Bible scholar, nor even a Christian, but as I understand it Jeremiah made prophesies which Daniel later elaborated. They didn't live quite at the same time, fought different Kings and didn't work together, didn't interact.
So I think it's two stories, one Jermiah's, the other Daniel's.
Colin hasn't told us what makes his story unique, what makes it worth reading, what it brings beyond the things one can read in the Bible. Without knowing that, I don't think the POV question can be answered.
Suppose, for example, the unique factor is that Daniel realizes that Jeremiah's prophesies have been inaccurately recorded. Primary POV might then be Daniel's. Suppose Jeremiah's scribe deliberately wrote them incorrectly, and watches Daniel's mis-steps with horror. A good POV would be close third on the scribe's guilty feelings as he watches tragedy unfold.
Suppose the unique, fictional factor is that, although unrecorded in the Bible, one woman knew and loved them both. Her POV might be fascinating.
If this is two fictional accounts of Jermiah and Daniel, taken from the Bible but with speculative colour, sights and sounds added, then surely it's two stories of two prophets.
No doubt all of those speculations about Colin's story are wrong; but, without knowing what slant the story takes, I don't see how the POV question can be answered.
I'd throw in my vote for Jeremiah, too. Whether I'd read your book or not would really depend on how you tell the story rather than whose POV you follow.
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I think that I'd prefer to write from the actual character's Pov's so that I can show the stress and trials that they face firsthand. As to Daniel and Jeremiah not living at EXACTLY the same time, I have to say your corect. However, they were alive at the same time and were in the same city during this time. I believe that Jeremiah was fairly old at the time and that Daniel was fairly young, but that will make a nice contrast between characters I think; one old and wise, the other young and strong, both fighting for the same objective. I think that the fictional part of the story will be that Daniel and Jeremiah actually did interact with one another before Daniel was taken captive. While Daniel is in Babylon, Jeremiah will be attempting to save Jerusalem from further destruction. Although they will think of each other often, perhaps even be in close correspondance.
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