1. ace.1991
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    ace.1991 Member

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    Multiple main character introduction(s) question

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by ace.1991, Apr 13, 2016.

    I'm writing a story about a group of 6 astronauts, who are sent to as the first stage of colonising the red planet. the story opens while still on their ship and my thought was to introduce the crew all at once in a 'team meeting' kind of thing quite early on. However, I'm not sure if it's rushing the story too much.

    What do you guys think?
    all at once? one by one?

    I'm completely open to any suggestions.
     
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  2. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Who are the POV character(s)?

    That is a lot of characters to be introduced all at once. Remember, you know who your characters are, in detail, and far more than your readers will ever. It's better to anchor them somehow, by relationships and tasks, more than 'discussion' introduction.

    It might be better to allow the reader to get familiar with one or two of the astronauts, and then bring the others on as makes sense of the action/plot. Character relations/connections. Rather than a label (rank/title/job) and a name, why not the character doing the job, give the reader something to remember them by.

    Does the reader need to know all of the characters right from the beginning? If not, then why do it?
     
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  3. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    My piece also has six main characters. The chapters throughout the novel switch from one POV to another but each chapter only gives one POV. I begin introducing two of the characters in the first chapter. The second chapter brings in a third, then two more in the third. I found this to be a much easier way for a reader to absorb each character enough to begin caring about them.
     
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  4. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Are they all narrators or just main characters? That changes things.
     
  5. ace.1991
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    ace.1991 Member

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    For the POV, like doggiedude, I was thinking of writing each chapter from one member of the crews' perspective at a time.

    and yes, it is somewhat important to introduce all 6 quite early on. although introducing them while they're performing tasks around the ship has got me thinking.
     
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  6. ace.1991
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    ace.1991 Member

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    Please forgive my ignorance, but how do you define a narrator from just a main character?
     
  7. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    A narrator is someone who takes a first-person perspective, and gives you their opinions directly. Rather than having third-person description that is kind of.. garnished with their perspective in the way I do it.
    The thing is that a narrator-switch is more jarring that if the main character's perspective is shown less intimately. Look at Jurassic Park or the Skulduggery Pleasant series or any numbe rof othe rbooks that use third-person description but still show perspective. The switching is quite easy. But a first-person switch is harder so it's more risky. I'd say two to four first person narrators is probably safer than six. And I'd label the chapters so people know who's narrating. Especially if they switch frequently. You could do six though, if you really want. Just now that it's difficult.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2016
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  8. ace.1991
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    ace.1991 Member

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    Mine's from the third-person perspective. Also, I have a feeling my third-person POV descriptions are similar to yours.
     
  9. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Sounds like it will work fine. Have you ever read the Skulduggery Series? That's the narration style I use.
    Or Neil Gaiman!
     
  10. ace.1991
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    ace.1991 Member

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    No, unfortunately. Although, I've added them to my (extensive) list of things to read :read:

    Okay, so I have some ideas for character introductions now: going with introducing them all one or two at a time at pints during the first chapter or two. see how that goes.
     
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  11. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I recommend American Gods, it's a bit long and drawn out kind of, but it's very evocative and the story and characters are very meaningful and interesting.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2016
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  12. ace.1991
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    ace.1991 Member

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    Thanks
     
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  13. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    No probs. It's also a good example of a third-person perspective that changes.
     
  14. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    I'm fairly certain my would be considered third person with an omniscient narrator but I'm not certain about that.

    I wasn't all that impressed by American God's. Not a bad book but not real memorable either.
     
  15. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    That's because you're a heathen fool!!! :supermad:
    Jokes, I don't care.
     
  16. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    I think it may have something to do with going from Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid chronicles to American Gods. I think it had a very different view of skinwalkers that I wasn't into at the time.
     
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  17. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Interesting.
     
  18. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with @TWErvin2 completely. Six guys sitting around a table talking might work as an opening scene in a movie, but in a book it's less successful. We can't see any of the people, so there are no faces to remember. In other words, we don't yet have a picture of these people in our heads at all.

    Be careful not to make the mistake of trying to create that mental picture with a laundry list of physical characteristics. In a book, this doesn't work either. What you need is to make each character stick in the reader's mind. This means they have to do something or say something that the reader will notice and remember. If the reader is trying to keep 6 characters 'straight' in an opening scene, they're going to struggle.

    I'd take the more gradual approach, and let us meet each one of them actually doing something separate from the others. They might be speaking to one of the others at the time, but if that's the case, make sure what they're talking about will also stick. This is not the place for trivial small talk. Have them discussing something that really matters to the story. The two might even be discussing one or more of their fellow travellers, and by hearing their opinions of the missing astronauts, we'll not only get an idea of what to expect when we do meet these other astronauts, but also get a grip on the personalities of the two people who are having the discussion.

    If you're writing a novel in any genre, you should never rush the beginning. A rushed, overly-complicated beginning does not equal an exciting beginning. It more often creates confusion, which leads to a dissatisfied reader who will walk away. Instead, hook your reader with something intriguing (maybe something about the mission itself?) and pull them into the story bit by bit. Remember they are opening this book for the first time, and know nothing about your characters or what is going to happen. Try not to swamp them with too much information in the first few pages.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2016
  19. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    I'm reminded of the beginning of A Darkling Sea:

    It continues in this vein, giving a pretty good first impression of each character's focus and style of thinking, as well as building up just how much of a nuisance Henri is going to be.
     
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