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Opening chapters and MCs (1 Viewer)

FrancisD

Senior Member
I have written what may become an opening chapter to a third novel of a series. Nowhere does it mention the MC, in fact he doesn’t get a mention until the end of chapter two.

This opening is setting the scene. The MC in this scene dies at the hands of some pretty nasty characters at the end of it. I ran it by someone who suggested that I should always introduce my main character in the opening scene, but that’s just not so, right?
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Presumably, if it's the third novel in a series then it can't be read without reading the first two? In which case, I see no problem at all. If it was the first novel, then yes, it's best to introduce your protag as early as possible.
 

FrancisD

Senior Member
Presumably, if it's the third novel in a series then it can't be read without reading the first two? In which case, I see no problem at all. If it was the first novel, then yes, it's best to introduce your protag as early as possible.
I would hope any of the three would stand alone, but I hope even more that the series develop a fan base, and they get read in sequence.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I would hope any of the three would stand alone, but I hope even more that the series develop a fan base, and they get read in sequence.
So they're also written as standalones? I'd consider introducing the protag early then, unless what precedes that introduction is entertaining enough to keep the reader reading. I think the advice for introducing the protag early is to give the reader someone to relate to immediately rather than leaving them hanging on and only viewing from afar. It doesn't mean it shouldn't be done though. In fact I'd likely throw down the gauntlet and do it just to see if I could pull it off.

Yeah ... why not. NO IT.
 

robertn51

Friends of WF
I ran it by someone who suggested that I should always introduce my main character in the opening scene, but that’s just not so, right?
After a quick skim through my e-readers...

TL;DR: Yank readers (n=9) want it now; Brit readers (n=1) are more patient.

The grits:
(no particular order)

Crais' latest, "A Dangerous Man" (#18 Cole/Pike) -- After a prologue, first scene first chapter.

Connelly's latest, "The Night Fire" (#22 Bosch, #3 Ballard) -- First scene of each MC's first section.

Baldacci's latest, "A Gambling Man" (#2 Archer) -- First scene.

James's "Dead At First Sight" (#15 Roy Grace) -- Chapter 7

King's "Dark Tower" Book 7) (#7 Roland of Gilead) -- First scene chapter 2 (earlier mentioned through others in Chapter 1)

King's "End Of Watch" (#3 Bill Hodges) -- After a long prologue, first scene first chapter.

Box's "Dark Sky" (#21 Joe Pickett) -- First scene

Bowen's "Solus" (#15 Gabriel Du Pré) -- First scene

Brown's (yeah, yeah, but after "Digital Fortress" I just had to watch this guy) "Origins" (#5 Robert Langdon) -- After prologue, first scene first chapter.

Ide's "Smoke" (#5 Isaiah Quintabe) -- After prologue, first scene first chapter

Curious I don't have more off-shore things. To be resolved...
 

FrancisD

Senior Member
Presumably, if it's the third novel in a series then it can't be read without reading the first two? In which case, I see no problem at all. If it was the first novel, then yes, it's best to introduce your protag as early as possible.
I would hope any of the three would stand alone, but I hope even more that the series develop a fan base, and they get read in sequence. ( getting number one published would help, mind. )
 

FrancisD

Senior Member
Are you sure you didn't write a prologue?
Well, maybe I did. I wonder, in general, if prologues are a good idea. I also wonder if, when’s asked to submit the first three chapters, as is often the case, the prologue would be included?
 
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indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
I have written what may become an opening chapter to a third novel of a series. Nowhere does it mention the MC, in fact he doesn’t get a mention until the end of chapter two.

This opening is setting the scene. The MC in this scene dies at the hands of some pretty nasty characters at the end of it. I ran it by someone who suggested that I should always introduce my main character in the opening scene, but that’s just not so, right?

I would hope any of the three would stand alone, but I hope even more that the series develop a fan base, and they get read in sequence.
You can introduce your characters wherever you want - you are the god of your book's universe. The later you go before introducing the MC, the less relevant he or she will seem though. The farthest I've gone is introducing the MC of Departure in chapter 2.

Consider the purpose of the opening scene(s) / chapter(s), which is to unbalance your character / world thereby providing the drive of the story. In Departure, an event in another city set the story in motion, then in chapter 2 the MC learned of it and everything was set in motion.

Personally, I don't like prologues because they're sort of separate from the story - putting that information into chapter 1 makes it part of the story.

My advice is to do whatever works.
 
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