1. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    Starting point

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Xatron, Mar 11, 2013.

    I am 72.000 words into a novel and i am doing the 1/3 editing, and i am having a problem as to where the novel should start. It is a fantasy story, from the POV of three characters separate from each other that will meet later on. I am torn between starting earlier than the main plot starting point (which is when all three move to the same city) in order to give the readers background information and events leading up to the main plot, and starting at the main plot starting point and use flashbacks on the way to give the aforementioned information.

    I would like your input on which way you think is better.
     
  2. Joel Fuler
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    Joel Fuler New Member

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    I'm doing something very similar to what you are trying to do. Here are my 5 cents

    I would start off with giving the background information for all three of characters and in the background find a way to tie that into them meeting each other in the city. To me that is the most basic and easiest way for the viewers to follow your storyline. But for me personally I like when the story starts off with the three characters already together and then you example how you got to this point in the story. You can start with a problem in the city and you do flashbacks that show how the characters met up. But I want to know what significance does the city play into the characters. How do they end up in the same city? Did someone lead them into the city?
     
  3. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I write fantasy too, but the reason why I read so little fantasy is the sheer amount of unnecessary detail and, yes, background, that authors always feel the need to dump right at the start. Just my opinion, of course, but don't start with background - unless this background is immensely interesting and absolutely MUST be revealed right at the start. Does the background serve more than just give readers information, or does it further the story? Unless this background absolutely CANNOT be anywhere else, not even in flashbacks or dropped subtly into dialogue and revealed more artfully and naturally, I would never start with background.

    Start with your character. The thing I find the hardest with fantasy is to submerge into a world totally unknown to me, and introducing the world and history first is throwing me into the deep end, for me, and I put the book down. I'd rather connect with a character, because no matter what world it is, a reader can always connect with a character - have the character introduce the reader into the world. If something is important to the character, it is important to me - and if the character would never notice something, then why should I know about it?
     
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  4. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    While I would suggest revealing information through character interaction, keeping your writing active, not leaning so much on laying out background detail, I wonder why you're going back to the beginning before finishing your first draft? You're so far into this already, you must be flying, bang in the middle of the journey. Once your draft is finished, you at least have the bones of your story to work with. You'll be better able to see it in context, from a holistic point of view - a beginning, middle and end. As writers, we can work/rework forever on early chapters, developing until we think it's exactly how we want it. But it doesn't move the story any further, in my opinion. The completed first draft is your base-line; your benchmark from which to bring everything forward. Finish your story and then focus on your beginning. Hope that helps rather than hinders.;)
     
  5. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    One of the characters, a female, already lives in the city as a maid to the daughter of a noble. Another character, a male who unbeknownst to her is also her brother, comes to the city to exact revenge on the people that murdered his family. The third, the sheltered son of a noble, returns to the city from a pilgrimage every noble firstborn undertakes after some time away. The city is a big deal up to a point because there are 8 royal families living in that city and they are somewhat tied in the story.

    My issue is that while when it comes to the first and the third character starting later on in the story would make small difference, the second is a much deeper character and i fear that if i start the story without giving some of his background he will come off as too mysterious and i will have to dump at some point for the story to catch up.

    After leaving it alone for a day, now that i read it again Mckk's suggestion that i let my character do the introductions seems more appropriate.
     
  6. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    Double post, delete/
     
  7. Phoenix Hikari
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    Phoenix Hikari Contributing Member

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    So you have a draft right now, right? Your current beginning isn't goo enough for you? If so, why? Do you feel that the way you wrote/began it is not what your story is calling for? If so then, what do you think would be a better beginning for such a story?

    Whatever route you take, my advice to you is not to bore the reader with explanations. I always find it a better way to let the events that happen in the present and future of the story unfold the past for the reader. So one of the three is a maid whose family was murdered? Does she know that? How does this knowledge effect her current behavior and what does she do in order to cope and forget? Or is she having thoughts of revenge as well? Maybe she doesn't know, then who does she think she is? Does being a maid affect her thinking of herself? show us that through what she does and how she speaks and thinks.
    The second is the maid's brother, does he know he has a sister in this city? Is he angry? How does he show this anger?...etc.

    What I am trying to say goes along the same lines as what Mckk said, let the characters show us what happened and what will happen in the future. Don't worry about explaining to the reader, the reader will start to get it after the first page of your story if you had written it in a way that allows the reader to be absorbed.

    Good luck
     
  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Just my first impression: if the story takes place in the city, or the city is a big part of it, I like the idea of starting with the female, as long as you can build enough of a good first chapter (ie hook) around her character introduction.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    neither way is always 'better'...

    and no one can tell you which will work best for your book, without having read the completed first draft... so it's a waste of time to be asking, imo...
     
  10. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    You can begin your story with a prologue, which introduces the reader to your world, then begin with one of your main characters. Like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, you can begin a brief history of your world and lead it to the present. Also you can have each chapter focus on one character, then the next on the other, going forward and backwards. Games of Thrones does that a lot with muiltple characters, and it drives a good addiction to the readers with cliff hangers and sympathy.
     

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