1. AsherianCommand
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    AsherianCommand Active Member

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    How to start my Book (The Descendant, Or the Song of Gods and Men)

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by AsherianCommand, Jul 11, 2014.

    First off let me talk about this book. It is a Fantasy Story based in Celtic-Anglo Saxon- Norse -Pseudo-Roman Period.

    I was originally working on the first book, the Newborn God, the journey of a man and he's quest to become.... A god. But I had to scrap it because it ended up, being shorter than I anticipated, and If I lengthened it, it would feel too long. So I restarted the project and merged it into the Bastard Descendant. (Still working on the title, Might name it something else at the end of the project. I don't think any publisher would take the name Bastard even if it was by Edgar Allan Poe.)

    This story was suppose to be about one character and his family. At it's heart it still is. Then I decided to talk about the world and show it off. Make it more of a noble quest. Now this book is more about the character interaction and how Adith Litor (The Main Character) becomes a Better Man.That is not a spoiler, as the first introduction to another Character shows who the real hero is.

    How should I start it? Should I start it like Game of Thrones (Song of an Ice and Fire By George R. R. Martin)? Showing the main villain being the main threat or just starting it with the main character and at the end of the chapter introduce the villain? Or should I come up with a different way?

    So Basically should I start with action? Or with dialogue? Or Just a silent scene with the main character making observation about the world around him, then slowly introducing the character and his preception? As I am working on balancing the two, but lean more towards dialogue as dialogue usually gets more through about the characters than the fighting. Not saying there won't be all dialogue. But sometimes it will be driven through character's actions around other characters.

    I posted awhile ago on this specific website, but due to schoolwork and working on my major (Video Game Design). I had to stop and work on several projects for school. In this year alone, I've written over a hundred poems. Though granted 87 of them were terrible, 10 of them were kind of okay but sounded similar, and only 3 were actually any good. But I will continue researching how to write my stories, by reading fiction and fantasy. (Also history as well to learn from it, I mainly studied the crusades and the dark ages as a kid.)

    Now I am only 20. So I don't plan on releasing it till I am 28 or so, or until the book is done completely and I am satisfied with it. As I have a few other ideas to write. Such is the curse of my major, we always come up with ideas that we never get around to doing them all.

    I Originally come from DakkaDakka. And I am no stranger to certain things so most of the book has been inspired by certain events in my life.

    (http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/603994.page).


    Anyway I am looking forward to all your guy's reponses
     
  2. Graham Penman
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    Graham Penman Member

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    The way you start your novel, is completely up to you. Go with what you feel is right for your book. The novel I am currently working on starts with my POV character observing the world around her, and I like it that way because it suits my story. So go with whatever suits your book.
     
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  3. AsherianCommand
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    AsherianCommand Active Member

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    That is true. But It always feels like, Should I add this. Or should I not. I need a decider, as I think both are effective and great ways to introduce the world and the characters and to set the mood and tone. But one rushes in, while the other is more subtle. I sometimes change it accordingly, but rarely do I have a problem with figuring out which one to start it with.
     
  4. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If this is one of your first serious attempts at a novel, I'd say skip on the subtly for now.
     
  5. AsherianCommand
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    AsherianCommand Active Member

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    It is my third attempt on a novel. The First two were terrible and I scrapped them. But get rid of subtly?
     
  6. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    From personal experience, and based on a lot of first time efforts view-able in the critique section, I would suggest getting rid of subtly.

    You have too many other things to worry about. You first and foremost want to be sure you can maintain the reader's attention from start to finish. That means focusing on clarity, word economy and precision, context to provide maximum experience to the reader (eg, rather than just writing its hot outside, show Moses taking a paper towel to his arm pits), and tension.
     
  7. AsherianCommand
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    AsherianCommand Active Member

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    So I should start it out with the Villian to figure out what he is, to add a mystery to it?
     
  8. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You need to a way to get the ball rolling (build momentum). I don't care how you to do it.

    Paragraph 1:Jane is in the kitchen cooking for her lazy kids and husband and she's upset. She's calling them in for dinner but they're all too busy watching T.V.
    Paragraph 2. She looks at an envelope on the counter from her sister and we find out its her birthday. The kids and husband are still ignoring her pleas.
    Paragraph 3. It's raining outside, and a tall, handsome stranger is standing out on the porch, drenched, staring out at her through the screen door

    Just find a way to give me tension (lazy family, forgotten birthday, stranger on porch), context (she's calling in her lazy kids, she's admiring her birthday card from her sister, she's trembling over the sight of the stranger), setting (kitchen, screen door, tv), clarity, and word precision.
     
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  9. AsherianCommand
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    AsherianCommand Active Member

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    Oh so build it up!

    Surprisingly that is my villian start off is like. You have no idea what the world is like, but only from the character's discussion and descriptions of the world around them.

    They look out at the dusk coming and talk about their experiences. Who they are. (introducing the world etc. just casual conversations, One calls another a Sir, another a Captain)

    The two talk about how they love the sight of sun setting over the lake in the west.

    They talk about the missing patrol.

    Then comes night and three moons rise (unusual)

    Then they notice a blue ember in the forest. Which then disappears suddenly. Sir Derrick intrigued by this ignores his compatriot and looks out.

    Then the quaking earth and the men getting uneasy as a scream is echoed through the night.

    -End of First part of the book-
     
  10. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    "They look out at the dusk coming and talk about their experiences. Who they are. (introducing the world etc. just casual conversations, One calls another a Sir, another a Captain)" Trivial

    The two talk about how they love the sight of sun setting over the lake in the west. Trivial

    They talk about the missing patrol. Tension

    Then comes night and three moons rise (unusual) Tension

    Then they notice a blue ember in the forest. Tension

    Then the quaking earth and the men getting uneasy as a scream is echoed through the night. Tension

    If you want to keep those first two, you're going to have to find a way to make them interesting, otherwise, consider combining one and two with the missing patrol conversation.

    What you've achieved here conceptually is something resembling the first chapter of Game of Thrones (in structure), which seems to be doing quite well.
     
  11. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    From prologue of Game of Thrones by George RR Martin. This is how he opens


    ""We should start back,” Gared urged as the woods began to grow dark around them.“The wildlings are dead.”

    “Do the dead frighten you?”Ser Waymar Royce asked with just the hint of a smile.

    Gared did not rise to the bait. He was an old man, past fifty, and he had seen the lordlings come and go. “Dead is dead,” he said. “We have no business with the dead.""

    Notice how he starts with tension literally from the first sentence. It's nothing explosive, but a clear line of thought is thrown to the reader to follow. I'm by no means suggesting every story has to start this way, but for us beginners, I think it's the wisest route to go.
     
  12. AsherianCommand
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    AsherianCommand Active Member

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    Yeah they are going to be combined. To have a balance, but still that edge.

    I don't want to rely on Game of throne's cliches, but it might help my writing if I do. But I think that is the only GOT similarity in the entire book.

    So it should be about the missing patrol, how there are men sitting around the fire in the center of the outpost gripping their weapons and shivering in the cold. Because that would be interesting to do. As I currently have it set-up to either be a complete mystery what happens to them or to see the creature kill them but only getting a brief description of what it looks like. And leaving the other character's fate a mystery.
     
  13. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    LOOK, cliches are bad. GOT is just an example of a decent structure, at least for the opening. A lot of solid stories start with tension. That's all I'm saying.

    A bad opener would be. "The sun had almost set past the highest mountain peak."
     
  14. AsherianCommand
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    AsherianCommand Active Member

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    So It should start out with. "I hope they come back alright."
     
  15. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're going to find a common idea among new amateur writers it to start slow, then shock the reader into an explosion.

    A good example of this is the movie the Matrix. If you remember the film, the first half of the story is predominantly dialogue and plot. The last part is nonstop mind boggling action. That formula works. But if you go way back to the beginning of the film, you'll see they still start with action, where Keannu contemplates escaping through the window.
     
  16. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not saying it should start any specific way. I'm merely suggesting you give the reader something of importance to focus on. How you do that is up to you. But be sure to infuse setting.
     
  17. AsherianCommand
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    AsherianCommand Active Member

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    So I lean more towards the describing the background through the narrator and the dialogue describing the characters and about the world. They will be subtle talks about the world. Not hammering it with paragraphs of information.
     
  18. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's one valid way to go about it. You didn't learn that from me, did you? You're seeing that it worked for Mr. Martin.

    But remember to focus on your tension line. It needs to carry the weight of the story, propel things forward. I like to envision an actual line, comprising of the important events. "Let's go back." "Why, are you scared?" "No, but we should still go back." It doesn't have to be dialogue. Stemming from those lines are little branches comprising of a detail here and a detail there. They add depth to the world, make things cohesive and meaningful, but you never stray to far from the main line. You are going forward.
     
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  19. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you want, I will suggest to you a tool to help you achieve this, though it might annoy some other members here
     
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  20. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Remember that you'll have plenty of time to revise (and revise and revise again!) before you put your novel before anyone else's eyes. So it doesn't matter how you begin. You'll probably change your beginning at least a couple of times before you have a draft you're happy with.

    Begin any way that feels right at the moment. It'll change later, I'm sure.
     
  21. AsherianCommand
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    AsherianCommand Active Member

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    Nah. I will just read it.

    I mostly got it just from reading so many books and such. That I find its a good balance. I didn't like Hills like white elephants. Because its a lot of supposing this and this.

    I like knowing what the characters sort of look like.

    I began it sorta like...


    “I Hope those men return soon, it is getting dark.” Sir Derick said to himself. Derick was a man of past forty. He looked around him, the walls of stone and iron, he stood upon everyday. He heard the sounds of men singing and dancing in the center of the outpost. Which was small and quaint.

    Many men stood on the walls of the outpost this day and watched the immovable forests. They all watched and watched. Waiting for nothing to happen.

    The man held his Glaive against the wall resting his aching arm's strength, as he looked out once more.

    “Sir Derick.” Came a voice behind him. “The Forest seems calm.”

    He heard the chattering of mail of and metal.

    Derick turned to see a familar man. “Ah Captain Calgar, What brings you here to the outpost of the Woodland Circle?”

    “Nothing, just heard of a nasty rumor.” Calgar replied. “But Don’t we always as the Soldiers of the Southern Guard.”

    “Ah. So you know of them.”

    “Yes, I’ve heard many of them. But the Circle is home to unscrupulous creatures.” Calgar motioned with his hands.

    “That is the life of being here South of Meroth.” Derick looked back to the forest, and it seemed like the forest had moved suddenly. “Calgar. Something’s wrong. Since I have awoken.”

    Calgar smiled and shook his head. “What? The forest? Nothing ever happens in that forest. Except those damn creatures.”

    “It doesn’t seem like it should, but I feel like something is wrong. When is the next patrol going?” Derick asked.

    “They should be going out in a moment.”

    Derick held his glaive as he watched the forest. Steadily did he watch it. But his hands shivered still. “Its unusual, usually Sir Ansel and Sir Lysander are back by now.”

    “It is rarity for them to be late, they probably found some trackings of a druid or something.”

    “The Druids. Those bastards frighten me so..” Sir Derick began to tightly grip his Glaive.

    “Just last week there were reports of masses of people getting past the Outpost Guards to our west. Must be some migration.” Calgar seemed to report. “Nothing ever happens here, not for centuries.”

    The Two men looked out as the heard a sound in the distance. Near the Forest. It seemed like dusk had finally begun to set it course. The Daylight had begun to fade.

    “I live for the dusk.” Derick said aloud, trying to calm the scene. “The calm serene air, the beautiful sun, and the rise of the three moons.”

    Calgar laughed. “Yes, I do as well. Probably the best thing about the Southurn Guard is that we get the best views, and the food.”

    Derick smiled slightly. “I’ve been at war twice in my life, I would like to think this would be a great place to retire.”

    “I’ve heard about that. But there is no war here in the south. Just the hunt.”

    Derick nodded his head.

    Calgar smiled, something caught his eye. At that same moment Derick looked back towards the forest.

    The two of them were entranced as blue lights began to emit from the forest. They were enthralled by its almost alien beauty. As a cold scream echoed in the air. Calgar stood aback. “What was that?”​
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2014
  22. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    Some expression of theme.
     
  23. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    There are almost as many ways to start a novel as there are novelists. There is only one rule: engage the reader. Of course, readers are no more monolithic than are writers, and so each will be engaged in different ways. This is why there is no single, stock answer to your question.

    I read this as tacit acceptance of the fact that you are young and your means of expression are still developing. So is the reservoir of knowledge and experience from which you will ultimately write. As @minstrel said, you don't really need to worry about how to begin because you may very well change it. I'll take that a step further - you may labor on this for years and ultimately regard it as a valuable learning experience, but unsuitable for publishing (voice of experience, here). It is said that the first million words are practice. I believe that's underestimating it.

    Ultimately, if you are to become a novelist, you will have to learn to rely on your instincts for deciding these kinds of questions. There is no better way to do that than just doing it. Pick one and go, asking yourself as you do, "Would this keep me reading?"

    You already show an excellent instinct for grounding your initial choices in what you have read in others. I would offer one additional piece of advice - expand your reading to other genres. There are lots of devices out there that work well cross-genre.

    Best of luck.
     
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  24. AsherianCommand
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    AsherianCommand Active Member

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    Wow thank you!

    I have tried my to look into my genres. Such as Mystery (My Favorite Genre), Science Fiction, Romance, and Non-Fiction. One of my all time favorite books is Dune a Science Fiction Story.

    I believe it is better to learn from those who have done it best. As a game designer in training we disect things into simple mechanics, we look at what makes something popular and what makes something not popular. Like there is a big difference between Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV Series and The Twilight Movies. Buffy is character intensive and features the characters moving forward, dealing with issues and complex character building.

    But yeah I Hope this book gets released, but it may not. I will never know. As I have written tons of short stories in just a couple of years.
     
  25. Nightstar99
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    Nightstar99 Contributing Member

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    "First off let me talk about this book. It is a Fantasy Story based in Celtic-Anglo Saxon- Norse -Pseudo-Roman Period."
    Just being honest:

    "It is a Fantasy Story based in Celtic-Anglo Saxon- Norse -Pseudo-Roman Period."

    I am not very keen on this. If you are going to give a book a historical perspective then it needs to be right, unless you are writing some kind of what-if exploration, which arguably needs more historical knowledge and context, not less (see SM Stirling's Island in the Sea of Time).

    I would guess from what you have indicated that this story takes place in the 5th or 6th century, as thats about the earliest you can go and have Anglo Saxons. At this point in time the roman empire was in full retreat.

    "How should I start it? Should I start it like Game of Thrones (Song of an Ice and Fire By George R. R. Martin)?"

    I don't want to read a knock off of Song of Ice and Fire. Think of something new and amaze me with it. Someone famous said the hardest sentence a writer ever has to write is the first one (heavily paraphrased as I cant even remember who said it).

    Your age isn't relevant at all. I am afraid that one of the cruel iniquities of life is that your free time plummets in direct correlation to your age. You might think you are busy now at 20 doing a degree. When you look back on that at 40 with a mortgage, two kids a demanding job etc you will marvel at every having had such free time. So write, write, write, write and write some more. You will never be in a better position to build your craft than you are now.
     
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