1. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    MC isn't introduced until 3,000 words into the book. A serious problem?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by mrieder79, Apr 24, 2016.

    My first novel is finished. Polished, beta-read, and I'm querying agents.

    But something occurred to me today. We don't meet the MC until 3,000 words into the book. I wonder if that is off-putting to agents who read my query about my MC and then, if they request only the first 5-10 pages, don't see a thing about him.

    I'm not sure I'm prepared to change anything at this point. It was my first novel and I'm well into my second. Not sure I want to break my momentum to repaint the deck of what may be a sinking ship anyway.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The way you've set it up is pretty common for that type of book, so I wouldn't worry.
     
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  3. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Without reading it, I have no clue if it will be workable.
    My only suggestion would be, as an author trying to get his/her first book published be prepared to be flexible. Be willing to make changes. You may think of your perfect baby as unmutable but that thinking could end up screwing yourself.
     
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  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    What did your betas say about it?
     
  5. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    My betas did not comment on it. Sadly, none of my betas were writers, an oversight.
     
  6. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    Okay, good. Glad it wasn't jarring for you. Mayhaps there is still hope.
     
  7. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not necessarily an oversight - you're probably not writing for writers anyway, are you? So your betas might not have said 'you took too long to introduce the MC', but they might have said 'it felt like it took a long time to get going' or 'the first part doesn't seem to connect to the rest' or something along those lines.
     
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  8. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    3000 isn't that long. That's a prologue setting the scene. Assuming that those first 3000 words are compelling and have something happening that will grab attention then it really doesn't make much odd. The concern is that your intro is boring, not that it takes a while to get your MC introduced.
     
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  9. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @mrieder79 I was just at a talk that addressed this topic. The advice was that the MC should appear on the first page, preferably, and must appear in the first ten pages.

    I'm not one for such rules, so take it with a grain of salt, but this was the information presented by an author after consultation with a number of professional agents and editors. Just passing it along as an FYI. My opinion is that you can do anything so long as you do it well. Her view was there are biases and prejudices among agents and editors and if you don't know them you're hurting your chances. Both views are probably right to a degree, unfortunately.
     
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  10. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    To me, it would depend on what those first 3000 words were about. If it's just setting and backstory, that'd be a problem. But if it follows a different character, I see no issue.

    Look at Game of Thrones. However many books and we don't even know who the main character is! All about execution.
     
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  11. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    As @Steerpike said, I think in most genres it would be a Bad Thing and agents/editors are justified in seeing it as a red flag.

    But in @mrieder79's particular sub-genre, it's the way I nearly always see it done--start with the disaster, usually not involving the MC; show its effects, usually on people other than the MC; then show the MC getting a call saying "There's been a disaster. We need you!"
     
  12. ToDandy
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    ToDandy Contributing Member

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    This is not a problem. Thats less than a chapter for some writers. Lots of fantasy writers will do prologues that are about triple that length before introducing the main character.

    As long as you have other interesting characters for the readers to get attached to, we won't care if you introduce the main character on the first page or the 100th.
     
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  13. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    Yeah, I pretty much copied the typical format for the sci-fi/thriller type genre. Everyone in the first scene gets it and then the MC comes on board to put the pieces back together.
     
  14. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    I can see how this could be seen as a "rule" to keep the reader from feeling lost at the beginning of the story, feeling like they aren't catching hold of a central thread of story to follow through the book.
     
  15. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    I just asked one of my betas and she said she didn't notice any problem with feeling like there was a slow start. So maybe I'm creating monsters under the bed.
     
  16. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I think if what you have before sets up important elements of the plot, then it's fine. Haven't these people asking for an MC ASAP ever heard of a prologue?
     
  17. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    It explains how the jive-talking robotic cat knows how to pilot a submersible.
     
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  18. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    And what relevance does that prologue/introduction/whatever have? If it's interesting and relevant, I'm sure no-one will mind that whoever-the-MC-is hasn't show up.
     
  19. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    I was just making a silly joke. In all seriousness, the initial pages do set up critical parts of the plot.
     
  20. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Oh, I thought that was seriously your plot. Well, I now know it's probably not that weird. Information!:superagree:
    And yes, that sounds completely fine. :superagree::superagree:
     

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