1. amble
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    amble Member

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    Protagonist too young to introduce right away

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by amble, Apr 5, 2013.

    Hi,

    I think I have a very solid story , really good characters, all with motives for their actions and a plot that I can folow through from start to finish. I'm about 25,000 in and having a few doubts. The novel reads well but to start with my protagonist's journey doesn't really get going until this point. I've introduced him briefly in several parts but not sure if there are hard and fast rules.

    Chapter 1 is set when he is really young and follows a story about his brother and father. This is important as it shows motive for the antagonist and also shows that the initial spark of hatred was born from a young age. Next it cuts to the brother years later who is seeking some sort of artifact and deity. Third chapter, very short - just to let you know father is dying and requires the audience of the protagonist.

    Next chapter I'm able to have some 'alone time' with the protagonist and touch on his appearance, some character traits and beliefs etc. He pretty much features in all this chapter.

    Next chapter is a death and reaction. And now I'm setting up for my protagonist to flee the city and start the middle part of his journey. Don't get me wrong I can squeeze in a chapter of following him whilst battles or other incidents are going on but he doesn't have much to do really......

    Suggestions/thoughts?
     
  2. iolair
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    iolair Active Member

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    What works best for me is to finish the whole story before going back and facing changes of this type - I just note my concerns to come back to later.

    However, I (not knowing any more details of your story than what's above) would be most inclined to start with how the main action begins for your protagonist, and work in the details of the brother/father backstories gradually later.
     
  3. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    It might be confusing to the reader. From your description, i would initially believe that the main character is the brother and not your actual character. Even a third/fourth chapter dedicated to his introduction, it still is a bit iffy whether he is the protagonist or not.
     
  4. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Let me get this straight. You are between 75 and 100 pages into the story and your protagonist's journey doesn't really get going until this point? You had better have one really, REALLY engaging story up to this point if you are going to wait this long to introduce the main storyline, which is whatever is happening from the viewpoint of your MC. Even then, you are playing with fire.

    Your readers can feel cheated or lied to when they become involved in a story involving this, that, or another character and then, after two or three chapters, you essentially change the story on them. It's no longer about these two guys and what they face, it's about this other guy and his journey! You are on a slippery slope and can very quickly alienate the reader with this kind of ploy. It is one thing to have an ensemble cast and the story IS the story rather than the characters. But to have a directed MC and wait so long into the story before introducing his 'journey' is a pretty tough trick to pull off. And the segue from the father/brother story to the MC would have to be flawlessly smooth.

    I'm not going to say you don't have the chops to pull it off. I have not read the story and so am not in a position to make an assessment of the work or your writing skills. But I will say, when you go into re-writes and edits, look very carefully at whether or not this story might be better served by abbreviating the early action in the interests of your Main Character's story overall.
     
  5. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    I would consider shifting the mantle or protagonist to the brother, or have them share it equally, like give them each their due number of chapters. It doesn't make sense to me that your main character wouldn't have a major role until 25k words in. If you're planning on having this be Game of Thrones (where I've never been quite sure who the main character is, and as soon as I think I figure it out, he/she dies) then carry on. But if it's a single novel that's going to tell one story, then it might not be such a good idea to keep the younger brother as the main, especially if, as you said, through a lot of what's happened so far, he doesn't have much to do.

    That's just my opinion though, and it's based of of the very limited synopsis you gave. I could be totally wrong, so I would't hold it against you if you dismissed this all as nonsense :p

    But, something that's helped me out a lot is, when I start to feel doubts about a story, usually there is a reason. That reason is that either there is a problem somewhere that needs to be revised, or that the plan I have for moving forward is no longer viable, and to make it work would be like shoehorning a size 15 male foot into a size 6 womans shoe. Follow your instinct!

    Hope this helps! :D
     
  6. amble
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    amble Member

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    Thanks for the feedback. It's difficult. It's quite an epic journey - I liked the idea above of having the main story as the story and not the characters, or alternatively following the feud from both sides equally. The genre is sort of fantasy/horror or historical fantasy - it could fall into either. Personally I would class it more hisotrical fantasy.

    It may be that I cut them out anyway when I get to the end of the draft but there's just a nagging feeling that says 'I've read lots of books about novel planning but mine doesn't necessarily fit the formula.

    I think I'll plod on regardless and see what the word and page count come out as. At this rate I should be well over and won't have any problems cutting what's required (no matter how much I love it's vastness).

    On a more general basis, how would you deal with a young protagonist with really important events preceding his own story. I think it's fairly obvious when someone is info dumping, or working in back story. Anyways, cheers for the replies.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Can't be sure from a capsule description, but you may be starting your story too early. It's better to start in the thick of things and take an occasional look backward than to start too early and force the reader to plod through an endless mire of preliminaries. You can also avoid some of the problems you are dealing with nby jumping into the story later.
     

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