1. TheCubsFan45
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    TheCubsFan45 New Member

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    Thoughts on starting a novel from a POV that is not a main character?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by TheCubsFan45, Aug 12, 2012.

    I have an idea that I like for the beginning of my novel, my only issue is that the first character the readers would encounter is not one of the main characters. The main character comes in shortly, however. Should I try to figure out something different, or go ahead? I know of at least one book where this is done, Anne of Green Gables-- the first character we encounter is Mrs. Lynde-- but it is done in such a way that I don't feel it really takes away from the rest of the story. However I know it isn't what you're supposed to do, generally speaking.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I can think of several novels that begin with characters who are not any of the major ones. I think the key is to have a good reason for doing so.
     
  3. Crystal Parney
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    Crystal Parney Member

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    I think you could definitely get away with doing this, several novels start this way. I recently finished a Nora Roberts novel, and I didn't meet the main character till a couple chapters in.
     
  4. fwc577
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    fwc577 Member

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    It must have extreme importance and serious setup and good writing for this to work.

    Think of Harry Potter. We really don't meet him until chapter 2. Chapter 1 introduces his eventual mentors and gives us a brief glimpse into their uniqueness and we also are introduced his aunt/uncle/cousin who are horrible people. The whole point of this sets up a "day in the life" of Harry Potter and then a magical thing happens. An invitation to Hogwarts.

    Another example of this occurs in mystery novels. As a general rule, you should really begin your first mystery novel in a series with the main character. Take JA Konrath's Jack Daniel's series. Whiskey Sour starts with Jack arriving at a crime scene. Book 2, Bloody Mary starts with the antagonist in bed thinking of murdering his wife.

    What exactly does this chapter add to your novel, on the whole, that allows it to stand out as the very begining? What is the hook to it?
     
  5. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Try not to think about what you are "not supposed to do", there's no such thing in writing. There's only good writing and bad writing, and you just need to make your idea sound good.
     
  6. Ferdinand&Alfonso
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    Ferdinand&Alfonso Member

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    Really I'm not sure what the problem is. Like Jazzabel said, there's no right and wrong in writing. I don't think you need to have an incredibly important reason, nor do you have to be a really, really good writer. Just try not to introduce your main character too late into the story. For example, I once started a book and I decided that I wanted to get the readers introduced to the history of my side characters before mentioning my main character because of the importance of the side characters to the main one. 15 chapters later, I finally realized that I had to seperate it into two books instead one one because an MC that you don't talk about until halfway through the book isn't really an MC, is it?

    Besides that, I doubt there are any "rules" you're supposed to follow with this sort of thing. Is your story going to be from the third person or the first person? I'm assuming third since most people write their books from the POV of the main character. But a lot of my books contain lots of first person POVs. I put headers including the name of the character whos POV is currently being used and then switch back and forth. A friend of mine does the same but in the third person. Sometimes she doesn't even use headers. Like I said, there are no rules in writing. You just have to find what works for you.
     
  7. s33point1
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    s33point1 Member

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    Sounds good. Something different is almost always good.
     
  8. NuttyStuff
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    NuttyStuff Member

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    Whatever way is the best for the story you are writing, and the best way is different for everybody. What I'm saying is that it is completely up to, and no one else. I do like anything is different from the norm as long as it presents it well.
     
  9. bsbvermont
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    bsbvermont Active Member

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    I am so glad I read this today, because someone from another site had been pretty explicit that I shouldn't wait until chapter three to introduce my true MC. The first 2 chapters about the 2nd most important character so I had figured that was OK, but then was really self-doubting!! Thanks, folks...
     

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