On the Beginning

After listening to the archives of the Writing Excuses blog for two days in a row, I am now almost convinced that I need to modify the beginning of the book. As of now, it starts (and always had been starting) with a lengthy encyclopedic pseudo-quote:

The Great White Desert, Heart Of Lands, or, simply, the Flats, is a vast territory of thinnest silt dust, baked by the Sun into an immense ceramic plane, that spreads for thousands of miles in the very center of the Circle of Known Lands*.

And it goes on for 944 words. You can read the whole thing here.

As important as it is for the setup of my world, I would totally understand a reader growing bored and dropping the book without even getting to the good parts—and there are plenty!

It is not something which needs to be addressed this very instant—I should concentrate on finishing the damn thing!—but I had been entertaining myself for quite a while now with the idea of continuing Barge and Squirrel’s storyline throughout the main narrative as a series of interludes between the book parts, giving the reader more insight into Dae’s backstory—his two years in Zurbah—otherwise unreachable (and, therefore, untellable) by anyone he encounters in the scope of his two weeks in Stormhold (that’s right, I am over 430,000 words in, describing events occurring over two weeks; in my defense, though: I started with seven POV characters, killed two, and introduced one). I already thought of some interesting twists and revelations I can use the secondary Barge/Squirrel story for.

The plan now is to start with the Ethelle’s departure from Zafza, then break for the nerdy stuff, then continue with the pirates.

Unless my future alpha-readers club will convince me that it is fine to start with the boring stuff…

2 thoughts on “On the Beginning”

  1. This seems like a valid concern. Although, when I read the opening, it captured my attention right away, I can see how other readers might want to start with the action of the story. Oftentimes, I wish fantasy novels had a bit more introductory world-building, because when I, as the reader, am made to jump right into action and plot (as is mostly the case for the reason you mentioned in this post), I feel like I’m playing catch-up until more of the rules of the world are introduced and discussed. That’s fine; eventually, everything clicks together, but I do find myself slightly dreading the start of a new fantasy novel each time I pick one up, because I know that, in the beginning, I’m not going to know what’s going on…I think the alpha readers might have to get two versions (some with the “encyclopaedic pseudo-quote” and some with the start of the plot) and see the feedback you get…

    1. It is quite similar for me—I like to know where I am being taken—that’s why I wrote it this way to start with. Although with Michael J. Sullivan’s Riyria books I always skipped the info addendum at the beginning with the listings of lands, gods, and political forces, which looked like a spreadsheet. They were impossible to cram in advance in order to understand the books better (if it was their intended use). But I did love the books…

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