1. Domino355
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    Domino355 Contributing Member

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    Am I making a huge mistake with story structure

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Domino355, Aug 16, 2016.

    I am in the beggining of my novel, a one shot fantasy story. The first half of the story is about a holy knight, persecuted by the leaders of the same faith he believes in.
    Now the first scene I wrote, before introducing the other characters, before you really get to know the hero, is the first attack against my hero, where his wife and children are killed.
    Now reading a bit about structure, I realise I just tool the First Plot Point, the big change of the beginning, and put it right at the start of my story. Now I am beggining to feel this will probably make the first half until the middle drag out. On the other hand, the destruction of my hero's first life is essential to the story, and except for him there is no real character I can introduce from his old life.
    What do you think?
     
  2. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    I think it sounds like it could work just fine either way. Leaving it as is means that you don't waste the reader's time establishing emotional connections to characters that aren't going to live long.
    On the other hand, maybe those emotional connections are important for the reader to empathise with the knight and why he's doing what he's doing.
    I don't know if you're making a mistake, but I do know that you're not making a HUGE mistake.
     
  3. I Am Vague
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    I Am Vague Active Member

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    People are always saying you need to make it interesting in the first few pages. They really drone on and on about it like it's the biggest taboo to start off slower. Leaving a little mystery behind his motivations and why he is the way he is,I think, will make people a little curious. I'd actually make it a flashback, kind of how the Dark Tower had done in the first book when you learn of the previous town and all the shit that had gone down there.

    Or, option 2, start off the beginning the way you have it, but keep the events of your story interesting in the beginning so people won't feel like it's dragging.
     
  4. karldots92
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    karldots92 Active Member

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    I think it works fine like that. Unless there is some sort of a relationship you want to establish I don't think you need to drag it out. I think most readers would empathise with someone who has lost his or her family. There are a lot of examples where this happens. I have done it myself as a plot device to drive the story and also as a source of conflict between two of my main characters.
     
  5. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    That event is the catalyst, not the first turning point.

    Not at all. After the catalyst and before the first turning point, you can write about the MC's suffering and (most important) his decision-making process as he weighs the pros and cons of fighting back.

    The first turning point is when he first tries to take the fight to the enemy.

    Absolutely. And it's one of the earmarks of a good catalyst.

    So, make one up. It doesn't have to be a family member, just someone who knew them or knew of them and knows how much it's killing the MC that they're gone.
     
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  6. Nightstar99
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    Nightstar99 Contributing Member

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    There aren't any rules with storytelling other than not to bore your reader.

    Tell the best story you can as well as you know how, the way it wants to be told.
     
  7. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sounds fine to me - sounds like an "inciting event", which obviously you need up front. I love geeking out over story structure, but structure is a tool to help you, not a ball and chain to weigh you down. Getting too bogged down in "is my structure wrong" at the beginning of the project is the path to madness - write your story, figure out where it goes, and save the revision tasks for after you finish (or at least for that point when you feel you've figured out a specific problem and have an "a ha!" moment :) ) Who knows, your current beginning may not be your beginning when you get to the end - actually from my experience I'm almost certain it won't be.

    Shorter version: Keep structure in mind but don't let it get to you too much.
     
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  8. Domino355
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    Domino355 Contributing Member

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    @Sack-a-Doo! Well, you acn look at it like that I guess. Now my problem is that I need a good first turning point. I'm sure I'll be able to find one, soon enough.
    @Commandante Lemming that's great advice. Thanks. Up to now I have been doing just that, and I thought that maybe going to writing from a different angle, first come up with an outline, then start writing the plot, will be better. But yeah, I need to remind muself that structure is a tool, and writing the damn plot is the main part. Anyway, I'm already 15000 words in, in a book that probably won't pass the 80000 word mark. So I'll just continue writing
     
  9. theamorset
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    theamorset Contributing Member

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    What's the second half of the story about?

    Putting a big change right at the start can work. But it's not easy. You have to throw that big thing out there, and then the character has to grab it by the ah - the short hairs - and keep moving.

    In my novel I am just finishing, the main character goes through a horrible experience right at the beginning. Much of the next part of the book, you just see how badly affected he was, and what a complete mess he is. It looks like he's just not going to get better. And then he just heals. He starts believing in himself, a lot of people help him. At the end, he really tests his new-found confidence, and succeeds.

    The other way, building up toward a big change later in the story, isn't easy either. Nothing's easy with writing. If you build toward something big later on, you have to be good at building. Really good. You have to have everybody incontinent and chewing their nails to bloody stumps, to make it work.
     
  10. newjerseyrunner
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    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    Describe your story in one sentence. Does the first part of the story lead into the second part, or is it just a necessary explanation of why he is the way he is?

    An example of a major character change a huge part of the book is Hatchet. A young boy stranded in the woods after a plane crash. The first half of the story is him learning how to survive on his own, then the months of survival itself.

    An example of a major character change that was just an explanation of why he is, is Don Quixote. The first chapter or so is about him becoming delusional and leaving his family. It's absolutely essential for the story, but is not a main plot point so it's gotten out of the way very quickly. The descent into madness is not the story, it's what he does after he's already mad.
     
  11. Domino355
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    Domino355 Contributing Member

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    I understand. Well, the entire first half of the story are actions he does because of his family's death, right until the bog reveal, halfway through. From there, it becomes the focus of the story, and the reason he does what he does.
     

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