1. MizukiUkitake
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    MizukiUkitake New Member

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    Opening chapter filler?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by MizukiUkitake, Sep 7, 2016.

    So I'm working on a sub-story to another book I'm working on, in hopes this mostly pre-planned story will give me ideas for the main book (this one focuses on a specific character that plays a less prominent role in the main one, but I've got a lot of backstory for her that will help branch out the main story if readers decide they like her).
    Anyway, I'm finding that while I have a large portion of her story figured out, with plenty of plot points, I'm having trouble hitting that first one at a reasonable pace.

    Basically, I have her early childhood, 5 years old, when she was bullied in school, and stopped speaking because of it. Then, on and off, from 9 to 13, she started skipping school. Around 12 years old, she meets a set of mysterious triplets who find her interesting, and she starts spending time with them before they move away. Shortly after, she meets a mafia hitman who feels bad for her and appoints himself her big brother, encouraging her to go back to school. Very quickly after, she meets more people who brighten up her world before finally, she starts speaking again at 14. After that, the story is a bit unclear, but it'll go on into her adulthood, in much later chapters, so I'm not worried about that right now.

    What I have so far is, well... It opens up with her sitting behind the school, 12 years old, afraid to go inside because she's afraid to face her classmates. It summarises how her family has tried to help, but they're either so underwhelming or so over the top, their attempts don't really help at all. Then, the bell rings, so she gets up and walks through the empty hallway, preferring to be late than to deal with her schoolmates.

    I've considered having someone picking on her, but I don't think that alone would be enough to fill a whole chapter, let alone two. I don't want to rush into her meeting the triplets, since I want the readers to feel invested in her story, feel her pain, fall in love with the helpless child so that when she at last speaks, for the first time... they weep with joy and triumph, just as I did when I wrote the first draft for the scene after years of working on her.
     
  2. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    The only thing I can think of is showing the struggles you mentioned, the underwhelming or over the top help, showing the impact her mutism has on her and those around her. (maybe bullies don't get a response from her and move onto someone else, she'd like to say something because she doesn't want another to be bullied in her place but cant/wont)

    I think showing the general struggles she and those around her have should give you enough filler, it might help build sympathy as well
     
  3. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why would you hope that this sub-story will give you ideas for the main book?

    If you haven't got ideas for the main book, you haven't got a main book.


    Why would you want filler?

    Write the story. If it's not long enough, it's not a big enough story. Pad it out with filler and all you'll see is an increase in suicides amongst your readership.

    This whole thing sounds unrealistic.
    1/ Does she not have parents, who notice she's not speaking and take her to speech therapy? And do 5-year olds really bully so badly that kids stop speaking? Is she some kind of precious flower, or is school so much tougher than in my day?

    2/ And then good things start happening to her...how sweet. But it's a boring book - with very little dialogue, what with her being mute!
    a) She meets the mysterious triplets...who aren't weirded out by her not replying when they say "Hi". And then they move away; presumably this is foreshadowing for later?
    b) Then she meets a Mafia hitman who appoints himself her big brother...not at all creepy when a grown man takes an interest in a twelve-year old girl, let alone a mute.
    c) Then she meets "more people who brighten up her world"...again, who talk to her and don't walk away when she doesn't reply?
     
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  4. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    Harsh but true - filler is never a good idea , unless you are repairing cars . A story is as long as it is, whether thats 10k or 100k .

    Isn't this basically "Leon" with less talking from Natalie Portman's character
     
  5. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    What's the main conflict in your story? Start the book when the main conflict starts.

    (I'm not clear what the main conflict in your story is--her recovery from the not-speaking?)

    It will depend on what genre you're aiming for, but it's really, really hard to write satisfying fiction about a gradual event. Like, if her recovery comes from just a bunch of gradual changes over the course of a couple years, it sounds much more realistic than traditional stories in this vein, but much harder to write in a way that will keep readers interested. I'd recommend trying to boil the story down into something more intense.
     
  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Rather than filler, I feel as if your story needs what I refer to in my head as a "scaffolding" plot--something firm and structured to hang the bits you care about on. For example, in most murder mysteries, I see the murder as scaffolding, because I just care about the characters and how they react to the murder and investigation. Star Wars is a coming of age story built on a huge elaborate glittering intergalactic scaffolding. And so on.
     
  7. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    Maybe she needs a nemesis, a teacher who approaches her and punishes her for her 'attitude' in not responding to him/her when they discover sitting behind the school or walking alone in the hallway. This adversarial relationship could have some mileage.
     
  8. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    I'd tend to suggest that the mafia hitman is the more interesting character, maybe write about him with his relationship with the mute girl as one facet of the story ... like "about a boy" but with gunfire ?
     

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