1. Weston13
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    Weston13 Member

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    Throwing Your Characters/World into Chaos

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Weston13, Apr 14, 2012.

    Hey guys, been quite a long time since I've posted here. Glad to be back now that I've let my writing mature a bit more. Anyways, I wasn't sure where to post this exactly...it's a bit of middle-ground between Character and Plot Development. Here it goes:

    So my current WIP is a fantasy primarily set in a city-state known as the "Republic of Mareva", reminiscent of the city-states of Renaissance Italy. As you might imagine, the city is a political snake-pit and that's where the story unfolds. The story in summary is: "The Republic of Mareva is plunged into chaos when its Arch-Magistrate is assassinated in a time when its People need a leader most. An Empire approaches from the West and seeks to take Mareva -- the Gateway to the East. Conspiracies within conspiracies unfold as the Republic faces the greatest threat in its history." Perhaps that's a bit vague but it'll suffice, I think.

    It is at the onset of this story that's caused some debate...with myself...in the event of the assassination of the Arch-Magistrate. My original concept was to have the Arch-Magistrate, Victor Salvidor, assassinated before page one. The first chapter would be from the point-of-view of his widow, Caterina, who's in mourning over her loss. Each chapter would then follow several other characters individually much like what one would see in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. So my plan was to reveal Victor's perceived character through the conversations and thoughts of the other characters as they now face this conflict as well as their own personal issues. As the story goes on, his true character comes to light....

    But then I thought about it.

    I thought about it and brought up the alternative which seems to be the norm. And that is to show the life/lives of the main character(s) before their world is thrown into chaos and conflict. I hadn't really considered Victor in a living state...ever; how he would've interacted with the others and so forth. I think about the several POV characters that I have in place so far and I wonder how the story would then play out. This is really where my problem lies. For some reason, I can't visualize what my characters' lives were like before conflict strikes. It's a very defining moment for them. The Assassination/Death of Victor brings out a lot of tension between the characters as well as within the political field of the city, especially when war is about to knock at their door. And I don't know if I should add a glimpse of their lives beforehand (including Victor's) with however many chapters or simply kill off Victor before the story begins and throw these people and the City into chaos at page one.

    Any thoughts or suggestions? I'm at a bit of a loss, at this point. I still really like my original concept for the start of the plot, it's just that I don't know how I should approach the "norm" or if I should just disregard it. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Also, sorry if I was vague at all. I'll gladly clarify if need be. Thanks, in advance. :)
     
  2. Sam M
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    Sam M Member

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    I would probably disregard the "norm": If you put your characters in their normal life, it might be difficult to not make it a boring start. If you can't imagine your characters in their normal state, then start from the assassination. I would definitely be more interesting in reading your original idea for the beginning.

    Just my thoughts...
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    To what end?

    You can show what his life was like previously though his reactions to life in chaos.

    Never start a story in a state of rest. Begin with something falling apart, or at least teetering on the edge of collapse.

    There is no tension in a state of rest. And that means there is no plot at that point in time.
     
  4. Weston13
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    Weston13 Member

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    Thanks for the feedback! I agree with you guys that it would, or could, be a boring start without tension. I posted this pretty late so I didn't get everything out but I never intended to play out the Build-Up to the Assassination without these characters already having personal conflicts of their own that would then be overshadowed by this greater one. Also giving the chance to see Victor's actual character/personality versus just what characters have to say about him. Although, both concepts lead to the same end -- the ugly truth behind his assassination.

    I do see your point though and like I said, I still like my original concept and I was just trying to figure out the most effective way of starting the story. I guess where this all came from was reading books, watching movies, or playing video games where the story starts out and gives you a short glimpse of the character's life just as its thrown into conflict. I personally cannot think of an example where the 'Event' happens before page one and that kickstarts the plot. If you guys know of any examples, please let me know.
     
  5. Wolf0PHL
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    Wolf0PHL New Member

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    I would consider this in the same vein of Robert Jordan's start to his Wheel of Time series, with its main characters, Rand, Mat, and Perrin as simple country boys, vs. the start of Steven Erikson's Malazan series, which starts in the middle of a whole mess of shit. Malazan, much better series.
     

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