1. Darkranger85
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    Darkranger85 Member

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    My story's beginning

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Darkranger85, May 11, 2010.

    Ok, I have read a few of the posts on the site about how to start a story off and they were very informative.

    Now, I had an idea one day for how to start a book and I wanted to know if people here think it's good or if it's a flop.

    It is a Fantasy based story and the beginning is what popped into my head one day. Picturing this woman in armor standing on a hill, an army behind her (She is leading the army), facing another army. It's a decisive battle but it hasn't yet started and as she looks out and survey's the scene unfolding before her she thinks to herself "How did we come to this?"

    At that point it jumps back to the beginning and leads up to that point somewhere in the middle and continues on to show you the outcome.

    So, there is my idea. Is it good or terrible?

    I'm always open to other peoples ideas and insights.

    I hope this doesn't count as "reviewing" if it does I'm sorry I didn't mean too.

    I'm more focused on if its a good way to start a book or not.
     
  2. tonten
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    tonten Senior Member

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    I like it.
     
  3. Unsavory
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    Unsavory Active Member

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    It's a fine way to write a story and has in fact been done with success in the past. However good an idea though, the success of the story is found in the execution rather than in the premise.
     
  4. Humour Whiffet
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    Humour Whiffet Banned

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    It might be great, or it might awful. The only way to tell is to write it!
     
  5. Darkranger85
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    Darkranger85 Member

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    The thing I'm worried about is that I think using that introduction limits me a little bit on how far back I can go.

    I don't want the story to just be centered around the events leading up to this event but the person as well.

    Maybe I'm not making any sense, I'm not sure.
     
  6. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are a few problems with starting with a flashback device like this. For example, the reader knows that he is going to end up back at the beginning sentence sooner or later, or sometimes the reader forgets it's a flashback and there's a kind of 'well, that was then and this is now' moment to pull him back up again.

    The writer can also get into a tangle of past perfect, like this:

    Aleyna stood on the brow of the hill surveying the remnants of her once-proud army blah blah blah.

    It had not always been like this. Only three days before, the brave warriors had held firm against the forces of blah blah blah. The council had warned her etc etc.

    But that's not to say this trick hasn't been done successfully by some writers.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It can work, depending on how well you execute it. The good thing is that you begin with a a character in a situation, so you get a glimpse of her nature.

    It can also work to leave that character anonymous at the opening, so the reader is left wondering which of the characters becomes her when you jump back in time. Leaving the reader with questions is nearly always a good thing. I'm doing something similar in one of the novels I'm working on. I begin the story with the moments before a virtually immortal charecter dies, then go back to his beginnings. He has many names over the millennia, but leaving his name out of the beginning scene leaves the mystery open as to when we are entering his final days (which is not the end of the book).

    You should also have a reason for starting out of sequence. Mine is to make it clear from the beginning that the story will not remain in the very distant past, but will extend well into our future.
     
  8. Mantha Hendrix
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    Mantha Hendrix Contributing Member

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    I agree with Cogito.

    If it were me I would make the opening as brief as possible, with as little information as possible.

    Try and end the opening with a deux ex machina of some kind... something that will grip the reader.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    good heavens, why?!... that's one of the biggest fiction no-no's of all time...
     
  10. Mantha Hendrix
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    Mantha Hendrix Contributing Member

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    Okay maybe not that extreme, but something that makes the opening feel like it has a point, rather than just being there
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You might want to look up deus ex machina. I'm not convinced you know what it means (no insult intended if you do).

    I'd be more inclined to end the opening when the troops charge to meet the enemy, or a similar point that requires a later resolution. A cliffhanger, if you will.
     
  12. Mantha Hendrix
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    Mantha Hendrix Contributing Member

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    Yeah sorry... I had a very very loose understanding of it... I looked it up, what I mean to say is kind of fore-shadowing ( or pre-shadowing as the case may be) to some incident in the past... rather than just say... "How did I get here?"
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'fore-' and 'pre-' mean the same thing... foreshadow being a single unhyphenated word...

    and since that means hinting at what will happen in the future, i don't see how it can relate to something in the past...
     
  14. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    Postshadowing? :p

    Sounds interesting, tho strangely familiar..
     
  15. Mantha Hendrix
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    Mantha Hendrix Contributing Member

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    You know I was thinking about that mistake earlier today... must have been tired...
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    happens to us all... thankfully, it's not fatal...
     
  17. Darkranger85
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    Darkranger85 Member

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    Sorry for my long absence. Have some issues, shall we say. Thank you all for your comments and advice aswell. :)
     
  18. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    I understand where you're coming from. I always have a problem on deciding how exactly I'm going to begin a novel since I always have a feeling that many people will judge it based on its opening.

    So far, what you've got is pretty okay. However, it depends on how you describe it and it depends on where exactly this story may be going. Maybe throw in a few teaser elements so that the reader may be even more curious on what this story is about and where exactly it is going.

    What you have can be good or it can be bad. It really depends on the execution.
     
  19. Mikey05
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    Mikey05 New Member

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    I couldn't agree more!

    An epic battle that is a turning point for the war written by a terrible writer is far worse than any story a true writer can come up with.

    I would suggest that you write this story as it seems like it is what you want to write, which is a million times more important than if everyone else could like it.
    Write for yourself and when you like it, others might like it.
     
  20. Tessie
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    Tessie Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Darkranger.

    Just one voice in a chorus of others: I agree with Cogito.

    1)
    Giving an unknown early in a story is a major prompt for readers (and customers scanning the first page).

    2)
    This will really get your readers reading! I've seen this effect in movies plenty of times, and the suspenseful tone it leaves causes the audience to watch it through. Wouldn't it make you?

    Good luck. I'm sure your story will be great :)
     
  21. Radrook
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    Radrook Contributing Member

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    The introduction idea is fine. However, it can be handled effectively or ineffectively. Effectiveness involves grabbing and sustaining reader interest. Setting a paradox, a mystery, or an important unanswered question is an excellent way to accomplish this. Making sure that these are inextricably related to your protagonist's welfare will assure that she is the focus of reader interest and not the surrounding events which will serve as a backdrop.
     
  22. miss_darcy
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    miss_darcy Member

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    I agree with people that said to leave the character anonymous. Don't give much description that way when your reader finds out who the character really is then they'll be surprised. It sounds like you have a pretty good idea to work with but the only way that people will be interested is if you write it! Make sure is hooks the reader right of the bang too!
     
  23. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    I've written flashback stuff before and the big warning I have to give you is beware the butterfly effect. You may find that when you're writing events that have happened before the 'start' of the story, something may change which would change what has already been told. This can even happen with the smallest thing. You'd be surprised how much a tiny change in the narrative can de-rail an entire story if it's not been thought about properly.

    That's not to say flashbacks can't be done. They are a great way to have a "bang" beginning, hooking the reader in from the start. However, you need to think very hard about the whole story before you start writing, examining every detail (and I mean every detail) for plot holes, people behaving out of character, logical implausibilities and the like. Basically you need to write the whole narrative outline in chronological order, just for yourself, and then mess around with the time after you know everything that is going to happen.

    Think of it like taking a walk. If you're just going out for an exploring walk, you can change your route anytime you like to deal with certain problems when you meet them - it doesn't matter where you end up. However, if you've arranged to meet a friend in a certain place at a certain time, you can't just make the route up as you go along, or you'll miss the rendez vous. You need to plan the whole route out carefully, looking out for any obstacles or dangers, leaving your route as clear and logical as possible.

    A friend may wait for you to turn up - a reader generally won't!
     

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