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  1. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Opening a Book help

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by GuardianWynn, Jun 22, 2015.

    So I am thinking of rewriting a book and the new opening is giving me pause.

    To sum it short the book has three arcs.
    - Person happy
    - Person enraged
    - Person morning they were enraged.

    The issue I am having is on how to open. I have a magical themes but the character doesn't learn magic until half way through the happy part of the story. They are pretty close to being enraged by the time magic is really part of the story.

    I was thinking that magic not being in the beginning may turn off people that like magic. And magic coming up in the middle may turn off people that don't like magic. The question is how to present it in away that will let a reader know what kind of book it is so they don't get turned off during the story.

    One thought was starting at the end. Showing magic, then flashing back to the beginning and playing the story that way. Catching up to the end.

    What do you guys think?

    Thank you for your advice.

    @jannert
     
  2. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Do other characters do magic?
     
  3. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes but not at first. The opening or intended opening is for no magic. The MC develops magic and then is taken in by a new world that more or less knows magic but this might not be until a good 20% into the book.
     
  4. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Given recent discussions, I am loathe to suggest it, but (to my mind) it does solve your dilemma: have a prologue where non-MC does some magic.
     
  5. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    In a sense I was suggesting that by starting at the end then telling the story in flashback.

    Do you think this issue really needs to be solved? Is it bad to start a book without magic when the book will have magic later on?
     
  6. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Yes, your idea is very similar. I keep thinking of the opening sequence of Prometheus when discussing prologues.

    No, I do not think it is bad. As long as interest can be held prior to the magic and magic learning reveal?

    Will your cover, title, synopsis or genre (not sure how that is communicated to readers but guessing by its location in libraries and Amazon et al) provide enough of a clue that it's fantasy / magic-based? I think people tend to choose books based on genres of interest, rather than completely at random. If they have chosen at random, being upset at discovering mid-way through that magic is used is too petty to be concerned about, IMO.
     
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  7. Sundowner
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    Sundowner Member

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    Hate to bring it up, but isn't this what Harry Potter did? I think their solution to that was to have "magical things" happen here and there, certainly hinting something mystical was at play, but not actually letting anyone really use magic.
    Maybe have some magical relics lying around, people don't exactly know what they are or how they work, might not even think they're magic, but they're definitely magic? Maybe some kind of doppleganger or shapeshifter be one thing and change into something else when someone doesn't look? Don't know if that sounds like it might be trying a little too hard to capture attention, but then again I'm not the one writing it, so if you can make it work then go for it.
     
  8. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Did Harry Potter really wait until 20-30% of the book to go magical?
     
  9. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    One of the versions of King Arthur's story recounts his time as a youth, being tutored by Merlin as to how to be a good person and then much later obtaining Excalibur from the stone. I think it's a common pattern although do not have any more off the top of my head.
     
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  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Always keep your reader in mind. Will the reader know what you're talking about if you start with pyrotechnics and all sorts of 'magic'? If not, try easing the reader into the story with stuff they will understand.

    Harry Potter is a good example. An orphan boy who is being badly treated by relatives (we already feel sorry for him and are interested in his story) is visited by an owl who drops off a message for him. This is the start of a long LONG journey to Harry's battle with Voldemort at the end of the series. We can instantly relate to Harry's situation at the start of the books. If JK had started with the huge magical battle with Voldemort, then 'flashed back' to Harry at home with his miserable relatives ...what good would that have done? Just start small, with stuff your readers will instantly understand. Then move forward into stuff that is new to their world. Suck them in. Don't beat them over the head with magic. You'll risk driving them away, if they don't know what's going on.

    Once Upon A Time, there lived three bears in a cottage in the middle of the forest. Once Upon A Time, there was an old man who had three sons. Once Upon A Time, there was an old shoemaker and his wife who had everything they wanted in their life, except a child.

    These old storytellers knew what they were doing. Start with something your readers can understand, and then move into the fantasy.
     
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  11. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Based on the title I thought you needed help in opening a book and I was going to suggest starting with pulling up the bottom right corner of the front cover and pivoting where it connects to the spine to fold it over. But that would be silly. It all depends on which way it's up, first.
     
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  12. rincewind31
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    rincewind31 Member

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    Unless you're not having a cover, back page blurb, or you're going to place it in completely wrong categories, chances are the reader will already know there's going to be some magic somewhere along the line.
    Or if you want to show him being magical earlier why not have him doing it by accident.
     
  13. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    That makes me wonder what a blub from this idea would look like. There is a LOT of content. In a sense it is more like a auto biography of a character that becomes a freaking demonic general! lol And even covers them losing that status and feeling bad for the crimes they did.
     
  14. drifter265
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    drifter265 Banned

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    Is the story about magic or is the magic only just a vehicle for the characters to give them a goal? If the story is about magic then you should definitely include it in the beginning and have it be seen throughout but if it's just a vehicle and only comes up halfway through then it doesn't really matter and can just be defined as the supernatural or something cool and symbolic that happens in your book. That's totally okay. Not every book that has magic or something supernatural in it has to be about that. The magic or supernatural stuff that happens can just come and go in a small part of your book. Your story doesn't have to revolve around it or even be mentioned until when it needs to be.
     
  15. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Can I pm you about this in more detail?
     
  16. drifter265
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    drifter265 Banned

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    Of course you can. I'm on a creative writing forum because this is the only social outlet in my life right now lol. Any kind of social contact is welcomed. But I don't see why we can't just have the discussion here so that maybe it could help others and where others can give their opinions? But do whatever have you.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2015
  17. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh I always like to ask.

    Well I prefer to switch to PM because I am going to go into deeper context. If a user comes here and reads either only certain posts it can lead to misunderstanding. Which can de-rail a topic.
     

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