1. AgentBen

    AgentBen Member

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    How long do you wait to get into the story?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by AgentBen, Jan 21, 2017.

    Just wondering what everyone elses wait time to introduce their character to the plot.

    I am doing a Greek Mythology book set in London.

    I was thinking of doing two chapters before my main character is fully aware of this other world. But have him start seeing weird things before then.

    What would you do/suggest? And can you give context to you own story.

    Sorry if badly laid out, rushing this question out.
     
  2. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    "Start as close to the end as possible" has been my rule (I didn't come up with it; Kurt Vonnegut did). Why wait? Referring to my favorite book, there are signs that things aren't right on page two and three. Putting it off 'til chapter two or three seems like a bit much.
     
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  3. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    IMO, something interesting should happen almost immediately. But it doesn't have to be the main plot; it can be a subplot.
     
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  4. AgentBen

    AgentBen Member

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    That's what I was thinking. Weird things start happening in the first chapter but he doesn't actually the big reveal until chapter two or three.
     
  5. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    Well I kinda use the first little chunk to foreshadow the main plot point.
    And in the next section another leads you into the thick of things.
    Then the rest is execution of main plot mixed with subplots.
    3 POVs tends lend to the integration of subplots, along with
    strong secondary characters.

    Granted I make it up as it goes along. Where as others would take the
    time to outline. :)
     
  6. AgentBen

    AgentBen Member

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    When you switch Povs, what indication do you give that you have done this? Chapter titles?
     
  7. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    @AgentBen

    I don't follow the chapter model. I use the characters names/title in italics and : .
    They are spaced out with either a time/space (***), or by a gap between them
    if they are in close proximity.

    Example:


    Mother Confessor:


    Nothing was ever this invasive, or quite so in depth as this examination of my vulnerable body. At times the probing became highly unpleasant. Emoting small shrieks, and cursing in every tongue I knew, as the two surgical techs put me through the paces. I think the most painful was the tissue sample. The sharp instrument biting deeply in to my pale flesh. Trying with all my will to not put up to much of a struggle or insight a violent reaction as they work. I was vulnerable already, no way am I going to give an excuse to be restrained as well.

    Since I had disrobed and sat upon the cold ceramic table, I dared to glance over to the trays beside it. Though they looked somewhat menacing, I understood that they were not meant for immolation. Instead for healing and science. Nothing like my collection in my abattoir. They exhibit a similar nature in that should only be used by practiced hand. I contemplated this for a while as I sit here nude, with bandages turning a dark blue from my wounds.

    During the whole ordeal the two reptilian surgical techs made a lot of curious noises. Taking down a vast array of notes. They were very gentle and comforting while they worked. Total opposite my method, though I know very little of consolation for my “patients”. There too was the buzzing in my mind of why I seemed to be holding irritation towards the Ober-Commander. Ever since he had left after having set up an informal meeting with the younger surgical tech.

    Unable to keep my tongue any longer I blurted, “I am confused.”

    “What about”, came the reply from the elder tech.


    * * *

    Marckus:


    The hours pass slowly, agonizingly slow. Pacing my quarters, contemplating the next move in this game of proverbial chess. Waiting for my company to arrive. Sending out for a pot of coffee.


    (Although some parts are longer than others. Make sense? ) :)
     
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  8. Brindy

    Brindy Senior Member

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    I need a book that catches me in the first couple of pages. Either something happens to a character that I need to know the outcome of a situation is described that intrigues me. Lots of scene setting and passive writing doesn't often make me read.
     
  9. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I tried not to ask what you mean by "passive writing". I failed.

    What do you mean? I can't tell if this is perhaps an example of the widespread confusion about passive voice, or if it's just a term that you've coined for yourself to describe a specific style of writing--which is fine, coining terms can be useful, except I don't know what it refers to.
     
  10. Brindy

    Brindy Senior Member

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    It's not meaning passive voice, to me it means where there's several pages that ramble on scene setting, or descriptive work that doesn't take me anywhere. It may be nice writing and later in a book may work well, but not for me in the first few chapters. I need to feel something that makes me want to read on.
     
  11. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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  12. G. Anderson

    G. Anderson Active Member

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    For me it depends a lot on the story. The shorter the story, the sooner the plot. But it also depends whether character- or plot-driven. Plot-driven, I usually introduce it initially (as possible) where with character-driven, it depends how much I want the reader to care (and know) about the character before they get into the plot.
     
  13. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    "Seeing something weird" would likely be enough to get me interested. In fact, I'd much prefer hints to someone laying out the full shebang on page 1.

    If the writing is good, I'm prepared to wait quite a while for the plot to start, because if the writing is engaging I don't even notice that not much is happening. There's no arbitrary limit--there just comes a point where I realise I don't care what happens next, and I delete the book. It's much easier to put one down and go to the next with a Kindle...
     
  14. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I start the story where the story starts. That is, my main plot starts in the first paragraph, generally.

    That doesn't mean the main character knows things have changed dramatically. But I know.
     
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  15. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I don't wait very long at all. But there's a related phenomenon/question that we need to take into account: How close to the actual beginning of story did I begin writing?

    If you live somewhere cold (or if you remember the 70's), you'll know about warming up the car before you go on your merry way. You gotta' let that block heat up a little or it'll stall on you. My writing is sometimes like that. The first parts I write are just warming up. When I get to the real Chapter 1, the warm-up is clipped away. It's not a person; it's just words. Dispassion.
     
  16. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

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    Getting onto the Same Page
    It took me a moment to understand what you were asking, but I think I get it now. You're asking: at what point in the story should the catalyst happen?

    Pre-answer
    If novels were movies, I'd have a quick answer (page 10 for a spec script, anywhere in the first 25 pages for a pre-sold property). But novels aren't movies, so we'll have to go deeper.

    In all the books I've read on novel writing:
    • some ignore this question altogether while
    • others theorize that the catalyst or inciting incident should happen in the first scene, and
    • still others say it should happen at the end of the first chapter.
    Another answer is 'somewhere in the first quarter of the novel' but...

    Most of the variation in the answers to this question as it pertains to novel writing come about—IMHO—because they aren't all on the same page terminology wise. That's one reason I stuck with movie terminology even after making the switch to prose. Most of those terms are—if not set in stone—at least known and used by the vast majority of screenwriters.

    Answer
    From a movie-oriented POV (and adjusting page length from the movie's 105-page form to the semi-standard novel length of 300 pages)...

    In pages 1 to 30 you show the MC going about life as it is and show that somehow this life isn't working... but despite knowing this, the MC hasn't done anything about it yet.

    This is generally referred to as the Set-up and often include things like the first hints of whatever theme your story is exploring, introductions to all the main players (good and bad) as well as things that need fixing... in the MC's life, in the world, and maybe levels in between.

    Hope that helps.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2017
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  17. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

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    I was once told by a mechanic that a car should be warmed up for one minute no matter what the conditions. Taking him at his word, I tried it in all weather from hot-hot days to -65 and he was right. Running the car any longer before driving away is about trying to get the interior warm on cold days (or to get the air conditioning to cool it on warm days) and he pointed out that driving warms the car up faster because the engine is under a load while you're driving (which it isn't when it's idling in the yard). Funnily enough, he didn't say how this technique affects the air conditioning.

    So, if ever you move back to colder climes (and frankly, I totally understand if you never do) I thought I'd pass this tidbit along. :)

    As for how this would change your analogy, well... it doesn't. Good analogy, @Wreybies. :)
     
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  18. AgentBen

    AgentBen Member

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    Thanks for the answers.

    I'm almost certain that my first chapter will contain some foreshadowing of the GM world and either at the end of chapter 1 (most likely) or the start of chapter 2 (possibility) I will set up a catalyst (another word I was trying to remember @Sack-a-Doo! ) to plunge my MC straight into the action.
     
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