Forks in the Road

Had a minor hiccup in outlining the new book while I was traveling: I decided to change the main character. Thought for a few days there I’d have to split the books off, and use the previous set of characters for the plot I had been working on while thinking up a different plot for the new protagonist.

Thankfully my split-brain didn’t last long; I realized I could rework the old plot for the new characters, and keep everything I liked about both.

So now I’m laying out the narrative for the new book. I’ve got the antagonist’s motives and moves down, and the same for what I’m thinking of as the “trigger character,” the one that starts things moving.

Having some trouble deciding when and how to bring in my protagonist though. I’ve got several different routes to take, some of which use the initial scene I want to have and some that don’t. The problem (at the moment) is that the routes that don’t use that scene make more sense than the ones that do.

So do I let go of this little darling scene of mine? Or do I brainstorm until I can find a way to keep it and have a protag intro that makes sense?

4 thoughts on “Forks in the Road

  1. Not sure what your story is about, but since you are at the plotting stage, maybe you can introduce elements later on into the story which makes the original entrance make more sense. Maybe you just need more time to think of what those reasons are.

    Would your story diverge a lot if you chose other alternatives?

  2. It wouldn’t diverge so much as lose some of the framing I want to do.

    The book’s a murder mystery, and the opening scene I want is a giant hook pulling the reader in to the story.

    The trouble is, it doesn’t involve the protagonist, and happens before the murder. So if I bring the protagonist in after the murder — which, for this protagonist, makes the most sense — I have to bridge the gap between that opening scene and when the protag shows up. The simplest way to do that would be more scenes leading up to the murder, but again, none of those will involve the protag, and the perspective character for those scenes would basically drop out of the narrative once the protagonist shows up. So I end up with the first part of the book feeling sort of disconnected from the rest.

    If I start with the protagonist getting involved in the main plot — which is the proper way to do it, probably — I lose my “cool” opening scene.

  3. I’m not the biggest mystery reader, but I would think you could get away with Chapter One without the protagonist if it involves the actual murder, then bringing the Protag onto the scene in Chapter 2. Delaying the arrival of the protag too long, however, might be problematic, although nothing is impossible if you are a good enough writer.

  4. Also, if this is one of a series where the protag is already known to the reader, you might get away with further delaying their entrance, since the reader will implicitly know that the protag must be coming along shortly. But if this is a standalone or first in a series, I would have the protag show up reasonably early (Ch.2 at the latest).

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