1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Should the first book be a "intro" book or the book about the plot you're wild about?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Link the Writer, May 22, 2011.

    Basically, I have multiple plots for my sci-fi series, one of which I find fascinating. Thing is, I have it pegged for a later book (Like Book #2 or Book #3). The first book is pretty much the intro book (called The Pentuck Asylum where Helen originally finds young Kenthew incarcerated for plot-related reasons.)

    My question is: Should book #1 be the plot you're most excited about or should it be like a "intro to what you'll see in the series"? I mean, I guess I could have the first book be whatever plot I'm excited about and the second could be largely a book of flashbacks where we explore Kenthew's past.

    What do you think? :D
     
  2. IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer
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    IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer Member

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    I would say:

    Write the plot that you're exited about, and don't worry yet about whether it will eventually be book #1, book #2, or whatever.

    As you're writing the "good" plot, you'll learn more about the characters and the setting and the events, and the "intro" plot may develop in the back of your mind into something much more interesting to you. Or you may discover that you don't need it at all, and you have new ideas for books set after your first one that excite you more.

    Write the book that's making you exited about writing the series at all. You'll learn things in the process that will help you decide what to do about the rest :)
     
  3. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm writing a series of 8 novels building up to one plot I was excited about. :p The first book is introductory and explores the world, and that's pretty much it (it's a lot better than it sounds :p)... it was the thing I wanted to write first and I know it comes first, but just because of what it is in relation to the series, it has a certain style. Think about that - the first book in an intended series will pretty much have to just set things up... If it's a standalone adventure only the immediate plotline can be even somewhat resolved, and everything else has to be left open ended for the characters to do later.

    However, just because it's got an introductory style doesn't mean it can't be enjoyable, and if you enjoy writing it people will want to read it :) I had the most fun ever writing this introduction novel of mine, and I think it's one of the best pieces ever to come out of my pen. And people who read it love it too. :D I'm totally happy with it being the first in the series because it is meant to be.

    The problem I'd say more might come if you *don't* make the accommodations to the series, because then the second book will have to point out all the things that made the first the beginning, and it can seem like an afterthought or something, like the book got you money so you decided to write another, and therefore all the justifications for why had to come after the fact. So a better, tighter, story may not be the best starting place at all.
     
  4. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Well, are you going to query an agent saying book one is simply the intro to the 'real' story you're actually excited about? I should hope not.

    That said, are you going to query an agent with the plot you're excited about as book 1, and then inform them book two is largely flashbacks?

    I'm sometimes surprised at all the people who think they have marketing problems, when really it seems more like writing problems. What happened to stories starting on page one, being engaging, and not needing an entire book to set up a series that is only then exciting, by the writers own admission?

    If it's not something you're excited about writing, please just don't write it. You'll be doing your career and any eventual fanbase a big favor. If the information and events in the not-most-excited-about book are necessary, find an exciting way to write them (meaning not a book of mostly flashbacks just to explore the past of a character, and certainly not a book you admit would just be setting up the rest of the series).

    Would you sit around a campfire and listen to Grandpa Joe tell you 30 minutes of history and backstory, just so he could get to the 'good' story? Probably not, because that's bad story telling, plain and simple. Good story tellers worth the not-as-exciting stuff into the exciting stuff in bits and pieces, just enough to keep you informed so they can keep you excited and engaged by the 'good' story.

    And the counter may be 'well, the backstory/history stuff is interesting and exciting, just not as much' to which I would say no, probably not, otherwise the original question wouldn't even need to be asked.

    And it's okay to have variations in excitement (that's what climaxes are all about), but would you want to read a story if the author ask 'would you rather read 10 pages of backstory before I get to the exciting part of the story, or would you rather it start out with an exciting part and then there's 10 pages of flashbacks explaining what happened before the exciting part?
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Forget about series. Write one good story, the best story you can come up with. If that leaves room for followup stories, great.

    You aren't going to sell a series on your first book. Your odds of winning the Lottery are better. It's hard enough to finish and publish one book.

    And don't get stuck in asking questions either. Take up the pen or the keyboard and get writing.
     
  6. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yip, the whole idea is to write a break out novel. And you need all the advantages you can get. So take the most fascinating novel idea you have and make it book one. Agents are a tough crowd to please, and don't care about future novels, only the one you're querying.
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Write the best story you have available to you. If you write one that you are not excited about, I doubt the reader is going to be too excited to read it.
     
  8. James Scarborough
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    James Scarborough Member

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    Keep the plot simple and develop your characters. Most good fiction is character-driven, not plot driven. Good plots are a dime a dozen; good characters are as scarce as hen's teeth.
     
  9. mootz
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    mootz Member

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    If it bores you to write it it bores us to read it.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    amen!
     
  11. Ramivacation
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    Ramivacation Member

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    *backspaces furiously*

    I spent a good 10 minutes trying to word this exactly like I wanted to, only to glance up to find Cogito having already done it for me! Nicely said, that.

    Basically, if the plot actually warrants an intro book, then by all means do it. But don't do that for the sake of doing it.
     
  12. Lord Malum
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    Lord Malum Senior Member

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    Personally, I say just write. Write write write. When the first one is done, be it an "intro" or not, submit it as the first in a series. If it's your first hopeful publication, the writing had better be top notch with an exciting promise in the next one. Most editors don't like taking on a series by new writers who have nothing to back them up. It's a risk, but you never really can know until you try.
     
  13. astrostu
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    astrostu Member

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    I agree with most others here. I have this idea in my head for an epic 2- or 3-book series exploring the fantasy world I've been dreaming up for years. I started to write it. I got 125 single-spaced pages (~68k words) in (~1/2-way through the first "book") when I went to a friend and he agreed that it borrowed a bit too much from the TV series Charmed.

    We decided I needed to completely change one of the MAJOR characters (primary supporting character). So I started editing/re-writing it from the beginning.

    That's when I decided I needed to explore the background of that character more. So, over the past few months in my free time, instead of working on the main story I want to write, I'm writing a short story about this character's background. I like the story, I'm using it to introduce some aspects of my world as well as some of the main characters in the longer epic, but it is secondary. I've 8.5 of 13 chapters written for it and it's about 20k words at the moment.

    So, write what you want, and re-visit the intro later if you need to.
     
  14. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    My dad told me, if you have a passion for writing, then God has given you a seed. That seed is in your heart so let it grow by writing. Write the story thats in your heart and pay no attention to first book, second book, issues.

    Write where you're excited and if back story comes up, write that too. get the story going, find a rhythm and let your creativity come out. THEN REVISIT!!! That is the most important part. Revisit what you've written after a few days and begin to compose. deide what goes where and determine if yo want to present it differently in the final draft. When I write, I almost always start with a pen and paper because it forces me to revisit it at least once just to write it-- plus thats an automatic hard copy ;D

    Moreover, don't write for publication. You're already limiting yourself when you do that. CREATE FIRST, READ SECOND, EDIT 3RD, 4TH, 5TH [If needed]. Then let others read it. then revisit one more time. then let it go for a week, enjoy your LIFE IN THE REAL WORLD. then read it again and be satisfied :)
     
  15. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    Start with the one that interests you. If you enjoy writing it, you'll do a better job. And besides, what if in the course of slogging through the prequel, you lose the motivation to write that series at all?
     
  16. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    With any series different readers are going to like some books more than others. Personally, I liked the Two Towers best out of the LOTR books. Fellowship was an intro book of sorts, but still very good. When starting a new series, I really don't mind an intro book; it lays the foundation, giving readers more to look forward to in subsequent novels. It also allows your talent as a writer to evolve. Just my thoughts...

    - Darkkin
     

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