1. Eliza Rain
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    Eliza Rain Member

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    Where should I start this Historical Fantasy?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Eliza Rain, Jul 2, 2015.

    To keep things simple, I have a historical series (in which the history is near identical to ours with a few differences) with fantasy elements. The fantasy elements stem from the main characters being immortal*, and each immortal has their own 'gift' or 'miracle' they can perform. I focus on the third generation of the immortals who were born between the 1400s to late 1600s.

    My question is should I start this series, starting somewhere in the 1500s where the characters are slowly introduced, developed, meet other immortals from previous generations, and go through different time periods?

    Or, should should I start in the 1900s, where they are mostly developed, and the central conflict to the series really starts to pick up?
     
  2. mad_hatter
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    mad_hatter Active Member

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    You need to start where your story starts. You seem to have you characters fleshed out and you know their history. But that's not a story. You talk about the "central conflict"; that's your story, so that's where you should start.

    You could write a prologue, detailing the history of these characters. You could detail their history through flashbacks, or through the memories of these immortals.

    If your story (i.e. that with this central conflict) doesn't start when your book begins, you're going to find yourself with chapter after chapter of meaningless filler. And 400 years is a lot of ground to cover.

    If your story takes place in the 1900's, that's where you need to start.
     
  3. Eliza Rain
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    Eliza Rain Member

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    I say central conflict because its the last of a series of conflicts that has been leading up to the climax. It also involves the most characters at one time.

    I have considered using flashbacks to relay the past events that have lead up to the climax, but I'm also afraid of over using what some may see as cliché.

    Thank you for the reply :]
     
  4. Kallisto
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    Kallisto Active Member

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    Whatever you chose to do, I personally like it to feel relevant. Whether you're taking your time to explain the mechanics of your story or dumping me right in the action, I need to feel three things:

    1. Some level of connection with the characters. Doesn't do me any good that you put your characters through a horrible situation, when I don't even care. Remember, that drama is created when we care about characters and want them to over come.
    2. Indication, usually through context clues, that the action I'm seeing is in some way relevant to the main conflict. It can be relevant by introducing a character, introducing a pivotal plot point, or helping me understand the setting. Or, it can be a combination of those things.
    3. Information is given at a good, appropriate pace. That means enough is explained before the action, I don't get confused as a reader. It also means not too much is explained, that I don't see its relevance.

    So with that in mind, there's several things to consider. If you do decide to go with the setting in the 1900's, will you be able to explain everything at a good pace? In other words you don't have pages and pages of explaining things like a boring encyclopedia? But you also explain enough that I'm not totally lost. Will you have enough time to establish the characters?

    If you start the story earlier than the 1900's setting, are you able to make the characters interesting enough that I don't mind watching them do boring things for awhile? Are you going to make everything I'm witnessing, right up until you do finally introduce the conflict relevant? Or am I going to be saying "Okay, get to the point already!"
     
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  5. Eliza Rain
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    Eliza Rain Member

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    Yo
    You've addressed my main concern!

    See I'm not worried about my characters holding their own. Even with my focus on my third generation of immortals, there are 18 all together still alive. Now of course some die along the way, and some aren't nearly as important as others, but that's still a fair amount of people I'm expecting a reader to know and have an opinion and connection with.

    Everything before the 1900s is meant to be the adventures and lead up as to how things got so bad. Why character A doesn't like character C, why character G sides with characters Z and Y vs D. How E became so distant when they used to be the kindest. Etc. I was wondering if say flashbacks would suffice for these things, or even brief mentions, would work. But these characters of hundreds years of old! So I'm not sure what is enough, vs too much.

    I suppose a balance is key, but finding it is the trick.

    Thank you for the reply! :]
     
  6. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Start your in the time period you are going to have the most happening and use flash backs to tell the learning experiences of your characters.
     
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  7. Kallisto
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    Kallisto Active Member

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    Try this. Take each and everyone one of your characters and in one sentence, describe why character A doesn't like character B. That maybe the only explanation you need for the reader. In Mistborn, Kelsier's complicated and often hostile relationship with his older brother Marsh was described in one short blurb, "We just don't get along. We really should, but we don't." That's it. That's all the explanation you're offered. It was an important relationship to establish, yes, but the why of the relationship, ironically wasn't all that critical.

    You often don't even need to get into details into the nature of a relationship. I've done that myself when I felt the only thing the reader needed to know is that two characters have a history. It's possible it could be romantic, political, or even sexual. But I never get into it because it's not important.
     
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  8. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Some of your immortals die? So they're not immortal then? Interesting. A divergence from your original OP, but that sentence caught my eye....

    I think the rule of thumb, when beginning any story is to start either a) at the point where things 'change' and the ordinary world takes an extraordinary turn. Or b) at the point just before things change. In other words, give a glimpse of the world you've created before the change happens, but JUST before.

    I think if I was writing either a historical or a fantasy, I'd tend to start with 'b,' because you're giving us a world that modern readers won't be familiar with. Let us live in that world for a short time, while we get to know your characters and what they're like when the story starts. If your characters don't like each other (and never have) it might be a way to begin. Give us a scene that shows us how this came to be, or what this dislike looks like from a POV character's point of view. Let us watch something happen between these characters that illuminates their personalities, makes us interested in their fates, and lets us draw the conclusion that they don't like each other. If you set this scene in your historical setting, and make the setting come alive with enough (not too much!) relevant detail so we experience a glimpse of what their lives are like, then you can launch into where the big changes start to happen, and we'll be on board.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2015
  9. Eliza Rain
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    Eliza Rain Member

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    I personally dislike the original idea of 'perfect immortal'. I just use the word because its easily understood rather than going into a large amount of detail.

    Thanks for the suggestion it helped me a lot! It gives me... Well at least an idea of where to start 1900ish.

    Thank you for the reply!
     
  10. mad_hatter
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    mad_hatter Active Member

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    I know it's a little off topic, but it is still relevant; I, myself, don't know what you mean by an immortal, if you don't mean that they live for ever. Whatever it is you're trying to convey, calling them immortals doesn't make it "easily understood". I only know immortal by its actual, strict definition. It means nothing to me other than 'something that lives forever'.

    I believe your trying to convey something like an 'elder god'. But if they're not immortal, you really should avoid using that word.
     
  11. Kallisto
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    Kallisto Active Member

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    It's really a lose translation anyway. Gilgamesh was "immortal" and yet in his epic he was looking for eternal life.
     
  12. Eliza Rain
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    Eliza Rain Member

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    They can live forever, but they all have their own Achilles heel of sorts. Its no fun in a story if there's no tension of a character dying!

    Thank you for your concern!
     
  13. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd recommend starting it part way through, maybe 1850s, that way with the time jumps you can establish their immortality early on. Have some of the relationships established as well as introducing new ones. Instead of using flashbacks, try conversations. They can also give an insight on how they see the past events themselves. Over reliance on flashbacks can really slow down the pace of a story, but a few words can convey the same and more.
     
  14. A J Phillips
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    A J Phillips Active Member

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    A prologue would be an awesome way to begin methinks, to give some background into your universe without delving into too many actual story elements. History and back story could also be told through flashbacks when the events of a scene call for it, so you wouldn't necessarily have to start from the beginning of these immortals' existence.
     
  15. bunbun94
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    bunbun94 Member

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    It'll depends on the pace. If you start your story in the 1400s, it could be nice if you're able to sustain the reader's interest. If yes, then start at that time. If this period of their life can be explored through flashback or by casually mentionning them in narration/conversation without feeling like the reader is missing out on anything, then you could start in the 1900s. I'm not really answering your question, lol. But in the end, I'll say go with the one you think will make your story more interesting.
     

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