1. The Scarred Servant

    The Scarred Servant Member

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    The Best Place to Start

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by The Scarred Servant, Jun 4, 2017.

    I'm looking over the outline for my story, and I'm growing unsure of where I've set the actual story to start. See, my story follows a man bought back from the dead after falling prey to a very unusual and devastating magic on the battlefield, he's a tad grumpy that he's been brought back to life (Especially since with all the years that have passed since his death, he's around 40 years old) and is promised his eternal rest if he brings down the person technically responsible for his death.

    Originally, I planned for the story to start before he dies, where he and a group of his peers set off on a journey to reclaim a relic that will make one of them king. On their journey they're ambushed by said relics protectors, and that's where the MC dies. This would introduce the reader to two characters that play major roles later in the story (The MC's best friend and his fiancée), as well as establish the man the MC was before everything went down.

    But now a days, I'm having doubts that starting there is a good idea. As the plot itself could be seen as dragging it's feet at that point, since the plot revolves around the journey towards the goal and the journey only really starts after the MC is resurrected. I'm conflicted. It could be better to simply start off with the MC's resurrection as the starting point, and have his past life be referenced and looked back upon throughout the story. But, a big point of the story is showing the fall from grace the MC goes through, which would be much more effective knowing what he used to be at the beginning.

    Any advice?
     
  2. Arktaurous34

    Arktaurous34 Active Member

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    I have a few questions; none of which you have to answer if you don't want to.

    - Is your resurrected MC immortal? If not, what happens if he dies before he completes his assigned task?
    - Was the MC ripped from rest when resurrected; is that why he is grumpy and why eternal rest is more appealing then say living again?
    - Roughly how many years have passed since his death?

    Personally I like giving the reader a solid opportunity to care about the MC so whatever beginning maximizes the chance of that outcome is the one I would lean towards. I mean, what good is an awesome plot if the reader doesn't connect with the dude navigating through it? If the plot doesn't revolve around the MC journeying towards the goal then I suppose it doesn't really matter where you start his story otherwise I say hook the reader with your MC and reel them in on his coattails.

    I like your concept a lot and at first glance it seems like it would be a fun read! Best wishes :)



    P.S. Have you ever heard of the game Planescape Torment? The whole plotline revolves around the MC trying to stay dead! It's a great game.
     
    Lifeline likes this.
  3. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think you've given yourself the answer: start where the story starts (ie. after getting resurrected). The other stuff you mentioned, the journey and his death, can be given as background. You could write a prologue, but I'd advise against it if you don't plan to end the story with a reference to the actual events of his death. Just my five cents ;)
     
  4. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    As Mary Poppins said "Start at the beginning then go on til the end, then stop" :D

    Also don't worry about it too much - just write your first draft- when I was writing After the wave i found my idea starting point in what was originally a flashback in chapter 3
     
  5. The Scarred Servant

    The Scarred Servant Member

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    Technically, he's immortal. He can't truly 'die' in his special state of flawed resurrection, his body looks like a corpse (Forcing him to wear disguises a lot of the time), meaning he can detach his limbs (Which the characters use a lot in either morbid or goofy ways. Like, putting his head on a stick to look over walls). This gives him a high pain tolerance (Though he's very weak to magic... More than normal people), with the price of barely being able to actually feel at all (Something which contributes to his downward spiral).

    Due to the way he died (Magical Explosion that turned the entire area into a twisted wasteland of tormented spirits), his spirit is 'burned' into his corpse, so he is only held together by his own magic (In this world, your spirit is your magical core that grows to replicate you over your lifetime, so technically a ghost in this world is a copy of the living person). In the event that he is harmed to a point where the magic holding control over his former body is pushed to far, killed; his spirit remains trapped in a prison of his own corpse, with no control over his body and forced to be a spectator within his own mind as he is reduced to a zombified slave. Think of being in a coma, but where your body is moving on it's own and acting like a monster. Basically, death for his state simply means losing his free will.

    Completing his task will earn him a separating ritual (A forbidden art, which is why he can't just find a local book worm to do it for him instead of the necromancer who's basically put a chain around his neck) that will allow his spirit to let go of his body and grant him rest.

    He believed he was close to his Eternal Rest, though due to the resurrection process his memory of his time as a restrained corpse is very fractured, all he knows is that he never wants to go through that again.

    Ten years. His fiancee has had a kid with his best friend by now.
     
  6. The Scarred Servant

    The Scarred Servant Member

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    The events of his death are important. The journey he was taking with his friends and lover is for a relic that becomes a major plot point later, the villain of the story is the person leading the ambush that get's the MC killed and the location itself becomes a big piece of symbolism for the MC's fall from grace. With the area being a bright and beautiful landscape that was known for being a peaceful and welcoming location, after the magical explosion it's turned to an oppressive waste land that has reduced it's inhabitants to twisted and mangled abominations.

    Do you think they'd be better off told as background information, or looked back upon through flashbacks (I do have a character later who can take people through their memories)?
     
  7. Lemie

    Lemie Contributor Contributor

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    My first thought would be to skip the part before the death. That said, I still think you should write the entire thing up until that point. Either it will be too good to miss out on, or it's easy to scrap. It still happened and if you're not using it as a beginning you'll still mention it in one way or the other, so even if the "before death" doesn't make the cut I still wouldn't see it as wasted writing.

    I think I'd say a mix between background and flashbacks. Some is mentioned as background information while you get "the full (but shortened) story" from the memory-people.
     
  8. Walking Dog

    Walking Dog Active Member

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    I like to start my stories with action or death, hoping to hook my reader. So I would start with the battle killing your MC. This would be chapter one. Chapter two would be his resurrection. Your opening paragraph in chapter two will have to convey the passage of time. But ultimately, you know best. It sounds like you have enough plot worked out to write all the scenes and chapters. You can put the decision off while your writing.
     
  9. The Scarred Servant

    The Scarred Servant Member

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    Before he starts his journey, he's told how long it's been, and that's about it. Since he's a bit short on time (The longer he waits, the further his goal gets away from him), he decides to simply learn more about the current world at his own pace instead of just waiting to hear everything important. The effect of the time skip being conveyed through his reactions to current events, referencing how they were beforehand.

    "I don't treasure the idea of remaining in this twisted vessel any longer than I have to, I'll have plenty of opportunity to take in the sights of the present on my way. Unless the squirrel people have risen from their ivory branches and broken the chains of their oppressors, sweeping the world in a sea of nuts and destruction, I think Ill be fine"
     
  10. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    If I was writing this, I would start with the resurrection, then handle the exposition by way of his memories needing a few minutes to catch up with him.
     
  11. Michael Pless

    Michael Pless Senior Member

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    I like to start my novel with a "hook" for the opening sentence (The little boy screams", for example), and then give some idea of the setting - time, location, mindset, etc - and build from there, with an event that propels the protagonist to act. In my current piece, I have the MC relaxing, enjoying his family life on a day off. Then a body floats down the river.

    During my reading, there are those who like the opening scene to show something of the MC's essential nature. Though not books, you might want to recall the start of any and every James Bond movie you've ever seen.

    Campbell makes reference to the initial call to adventure, which can be refused, and this is followed by the second call which is always accepted.

    During my course of my writing, we often found that the most interest came some way into a novel, and we were encouraged to regard that as the best start, and the previous prose was setting the scene. The prose need not be discarded, but incorporated into the story afterwards.
     

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