Author Topic: Bring in main character by 2nd Chapter or which chapter.  (Read 2319 times)

Offline thecreativewriter

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Can I enquire when its best to bring in the main character, which chapter? I'm told by chapter 2 at the latest, but I've just read a few off old comments on a 'sample chapter' I put up a few years ago and by Chapter 4 I was about to bring them in after much suspense which the readers seem to love but by chapter 4 they were getting tired at waiting for the suspense to end but still enjoying it.

I am experimenting re writing the first chapter to give a little bit of background to a couple of the supporting characters who are also from the main character category but I'm scared if I do that it will take longer to introduce the main character....or could I just do a flashback sequence at an appropriate time so the reader understands the background that way?

Offline lamont cranston

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Re: Bring in main character by 2nd Chapter or which chapter.
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2017, 12:07:56 AM »
I prefer to have readers collide shockingly with the main character from the first sentence.

Offline Annmarie

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Re: Bring in main character by 2nd Chapter or which chapter.
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2017, 02:29:32 AM »
There's no rule about this. It depends on what effect you're going for. If your story functions in a large world with many characters, or you want the main character to stay distant and mysterious at first, you can put off having him or her on the page for a while. But that will make readers think someone else is the main character, and it could be jarring when/if the story seems to suddenly shift. If that's the effect you're going for, then okay. Just be aware it could turn some people off. 

That said, a lot of books open with someone other than the main character. Crime books tend to do this a lot; I rarely like it when they do. Some fantasy or historical epics that have a gazillion characters do this. I tolerate it more here because I know we're being immersed in a larger world and have more patience to wait and see who the main characters are.

You might want to resist the urge to flash back or tell a lot of background in the first chapters of the story unless your plot depends a lot on memory, or the book isn't chronological. Weave background details into scenes that have their own forward drive, with goals for the characters on the page. There should always be a balance of show and tell, and how you balance it depends on your genre and style, but in general, drip feeding as little background as necessary is usually the best way to go. In the end, all that background you thought was so important early in the story often isn't. 

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Lin

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Re: Bring in main character by 2nd Chapter or which chapter.
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2017, 03:40:29 AM »
Oh yes I think lots of descriptions and building up the story can be boring.Sometimes I just want to say, 'come on get on with it.'

 I bring in my MC within a paragraph or so.  My third book in progress, I begin with the mother of the character which has a bearing on the story at the end of the book.  Then I bring in the MC in the following scenes in the first chapter and keep going to the end.

Good luck

Lin  :D

Offline Cathy C

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Re: Bring in main character by 2nd Chapter or which chapter.
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2017, 04:09:36 AM »
I'm with the others. I prefer to meet the main character as soon as possible. Apart from maybe a prologue, I want the MC front and center on the first page.
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hillwalker3000

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Re: Bring in main character by 2nd Chapter or which chapter.
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2017, 05:11:29 AM »
There is no right or wrong way. It's entirely down to the plot. If the MC isn't present when pivotal events take place that are about to effect his/her life, it's not necessary to introduce him/her on page 1, paragraph 1. Doing this, simply because it's seen as convention, can appear contrived and work against the organic development of the story.

H3K

Offline lamont cranston

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Re: Bring in main character by 2nd Chapter or which chapter.
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2017, 07:14:03 AM »
Occasionally an author is successful at showing a larger world in the first paragraph and then kinda zooming in on his/her main character rather quickly.

I think if you're a beginner writer it's best to stick with more basic techniques.  Even if you feel you pull it off successfully, the reader (especially critics) may be....critical. 

Jo Bannister

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Re: Bring in main character by 2nd Chapter or which chapter.
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2017, 03:52:17 PM »
Sooner rather than later.  We bought a ticket to listen to the first violin, not the bloke with the triangle.

Offline G. London

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Re: Bring in main character by 2nd Chapter or which chapter.
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2017, 12:10:03 AM »
In "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" she doesn't appear until page 36, and that debut novel drove sales of something like 70 million world-wide.  You could argue that there were dual protagonists but she is what sold  those books.    

Just something to think about, depending upon what your book is about.

« Last Edit: April 08, 2017, 12:13:58 AM by G. London »

Lin

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Re: Bring in main character by 2nd Chapter or which chapter.
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2017, 10:23:54 AM »
I gave up on that book, I think it was because I waited too long for the MC.

Lin x :D

Offline thecreativewriter

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Re: Bring in main character by 2nd Chapter or which chapter.
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2017, 10:54:51 AM »
Thank you all very much for your feedback. It was interesting to receive.

I think the general feeling is at least by the second chapter the main Character should've entered the equation.

I did actually post a sample chapter at the same time of asking this question and that's the general feeling I got from the people who replied, by the time I brought the main character in by chapter 3 through the plot, people were getting very excited but also 'fed up' with wqiting for the plot to be revealed.

I think I will ditch the rewrite of the first chapter and continue with the original and take it from there.

Thanks again everyone :)


Offline lamont cranston

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Re: Bring in main character by 2nd Chapter or which chapter.
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2017, 11:03:37 AM »
So what was the original plan that you're going back to?

Offline thecreativewriter

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Re: Bring in main character by 2nd Chapter or which chapter.
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2017, 04:44:51 AM »
So what was the original plan that you're going back to?

Hi there.

Where my character is brought in by the second/third chapter, the 'history' I referred to will have to be included at an appropriate time as it may be relevant to the story.

Offline lamont cranston

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Re: Bring in main character by 2nd Chapter or which chapter.
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2017, 09:34:18 PM »
You have no fears of getting lynched if you walk into a bookstore?

Offline thecreativewriter

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Re: Bring in main character by 2nd Chapter or which chapter.
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2017, 11:33:14 AM »
You have no fears of getting lynched if you walk into a bookstore?

No because it won't happen. At the time of asking you guys, I also asked my tutor and she agreed with the chapter 2 bringing in.