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The first 3 chapters - who goes in them?


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I am just doing a final tweak to 'Judas' and have a question.  The novel tells the parallel stories of Jude (MC1) and Cora (MC2). Judas though has the bigger role throughout the novel.  Their paths cross properly in part 3. 

 

At present the first three chapters are all told from Jude's POV; introduce his family and friend as well as his main conflict. The first chapter takes place when he is an adult and involves an adult Cora. The others are set in the past when he is eighteen. Cora is introduced in chapter 4 (again when she is 18). She does get a mention in chapter 2.

 

Now - thinking from the POV of a prospective agent/publisher/reader should Cora be introduced earlier or is it OK to leave her till later?

 

I have read books that do both so an split over this.  I do wonder if this might be an issue with my submissions - i.e that the slush pile reader has the synopsis which tells both their stories but does not actually meet Cora in the 3 sample chapters sent.  Or am I doing what I often do and over think this?

 

Any thoughts?

 

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In my novel I have 2 POV's Simon my MC and Alice my Main Supporting character There is a visual 'reference' to Alice in the first chapter in 1 scene, but it very brief. The reference is not by name either, it is only by the fact that Simon notices a young blond woman in the cafe. Once she leaves, there is no other mention of her until it changes to Alice's POV in chapter 3.

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I use 3rd person limited for my books. Of course someone can correct me on this being the right name for it, but I pick one character to write a scene/chapter from and stick with them throughout, unless, something very specifically has to change for the event's continuity.  So, for instance, if you know someone's going to get knocked out halfway through the scene, you probably want to pick someone else to be your viewpoint. On the other hand, if you demark it clearly, and have a shift to another character, you shouldn't be accused of head-hopping (not as big a sin as some people pretend it is). It's about being consistent with your readers, IMNSHO. I've even written scenes from minor characters POVs because it's a more dramatic and appropriate point of view that reveals more detail on what's going on that my hero would have no clue on and would give less interesting narratives to the reader. I've even done scenes from the villain's POV. To me at least it's all in service to the story and entertaining the reader.

 

3 hours ago, Shamrock said:

should Cora be introduced earlier or is it OK to leave her till later?

As yourself which is a better story/more entertaining narrative? What do you gain or lose by changing what you have?

 

3 hours ago, Shamrock said:

Or am I doing what I often do and over think this?

Meh. 🙂  You're considering hard, but that's why I asked the previous question.  If you have no idea, ask yourself the same question. "Which is more entertaining to YOU?" That's what you're doing, so do what feels the most authentic/true/entertaining/intriguing for you. Whichever you value most from the story. Aim for that.  It's like playing the game "Relative Insanity". When you have no idea what punchline card to play, choose the one that is the most inappropriate if you can't figure out which one is funniest. If you haven't played Jeff Foxworthy's "Relative Insanity" you're missing out on a great family game. 😄 I have not been compensated for endorsing this product. LOL.

 

I'm an indie so I can't tell you if that will affect your position in a slush pile, because everything I've ever heard of those is it's the lottery in there, and you win just as much unless you're already a known name. 

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Guest Spaulding

When we write fiction, we make an unspoken promise to readers quickly. We promise this story will continue within the same genre and presented in the same style.

 

As a reader, I have no problem with more than one POV. I have no problem with another POV popping up in the second chapter. I would have a problem in the third chapter because the first two chapters tell me I can get cozy with the protagonist, and that is swept away that far into it.

 

It's like being promised the front seat for the whole trip, but being forced to move to the back seat 20 miles into the long trip. I can deal with it, but it might well be a reason for me to quit, too.

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Posted (edited)

@carolinamtne thanks - I tried that but it did not work for me. As someone who has read the full MS does Cora come in too late in the 4th chapter?

 

@Spaulding I take your point but others would say that you need to establish your protagonist and their conflict first then bring secondary characters. 

 

Cora only gets a very brief mention in chapter 2 - the reader doesn't met her until chpt 4. 

 

@M. D. Boncher  Good question.  I would say Jude's story but Spaulding does make a very valid point about leaving it too late. (BANG HEAD).

Edited by Shamrock
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Just for "fun," trying doing a scene count between the two. I think you will find that, although Cora is important later in the book, she is not in the early part. I think you can do the first three chapters without concern. I don't think she comes in too late, but rather than she is not a primary character. Not that you could leave her out, any more than you could leave Frankie out.

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1 hour ago, Shamrock said:

Good question.  I would say Jude's story but Spaulding does make a very valid point about leaving it too late. (BANG HEAD).

In my first novel a character that turns into my co-protagonist isn't introduced till Chapter 3 because I had to keep things organized in the timeline of events more than anything else. That meant I couldn't introduce him before. Certain events had to come first, and what was going on with him was largely irrelevant for things to be happening "in medias res". In fact, he becomes the main protagonist of the next three novels before I can get back to the original main character who has other very boring things to do, and I made the conscious decision to NOT do Harry P boarding school adventures.

 

It depends on the context of what you wish to do.

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Guest Spaulding

Weird question: Why is there an assumption there is only one protag in a multi-viewpoint story? A more recent novel I've read broke all my internal rules, yet was compelling enough to keep me reading.

 

I also don't think their should be more than one first person in a multi-viewpoint novel, or, if you do, don't make another POV third-limited. And yet The Help broke all my internal rules and wow! Also blew me away. (It was the baking style, I'm sure. 😆) They were all the protagonists.

 

I'm not giving advice. I'm asking.

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