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RK Wallis

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Feb 15, 2019
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I've finished (again) my YA fantasy, and now I take a step back, I'm analysing my first chapter.

After reading Save the Cat Writes a Novel, I added the current first chapter, so things happen that help characterise my protag and understand her, but the next chapter establishes the feeling of wonder that tells the reader what to expect.

Both are important and if I could, I'd add wonder to that first chapter, but I've written myself into a box. Everything that follows and my world rules make that impossible (which I'm loathe to say with writing, it's not a word I associate with writing).

As a reader, which do you find more important character or tone? (Ideally both, lol)
 
I just had a 'doh' moment. The 2 parts are scenes, not chapters (I blame the way I've it set up in Scrivener, lol), so the wonder and character will be combined in the first chapter. I'll still put it up because I'm not sure if the first scene works (it's relatively new), so needs more work.
 
There are three things that hook me (and this is just me personally) when I read a new book from the first page: either voice (humorous or sarcastic +++), magic, or sex. The thing that bores me most is being in someone's head as they go about mundane tasks letting me know they are an orphan or haven't done their homework or really hate their boss (unless they are funny!)
 
Thanks @Malaika , I'm working on the humour (as I'm sure you know, not easy). I try subvert a lot.

I have the magic :), but you need to read through 6 odd pages (and something is happening) to get to that :(
 
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If I understand this right, you added a scene at the front to characterise your MC because you felt that scene two didn't establish the character? Could you have added characterisation to the second scene instead of adding this new scene? Combine the 'who' (characterisation) with the feeling of wonder, the 'where' (scene setting)?

Both are important and if I could, I'd add wonder to that first chapter, but I've written myself into a box. Everything that follows and my world rules make that impossible

Maybe I've misunderstood something in your post, but the world rules shouldn't rule out characterisation. Characterisation should run through out the entire story, and show the reader who the MC is, what their journey looks like, and help us understand her. (That's the character arc). Characterisation can be shown by the way the MC reacts within that world (inc how the world works, its rules, its magic etc). Their reaction to their circumstances. It's who they are within that setting that shows the reader their personality, their strengths, their flaws, ect.
 
I have added a scene at the front but to add more characterisation and a peek into her life, as it is. Probably best to explain by analogy: I want to show the smooth pond (though it's not that smooth) before I throw a rock in it.
 
From my experience in writing groups, surgery, and watching pop ups, too much smooth pond at the start will put people off. For better or worse, starting with an event seems to be the current way to grab attention. But @Barbara is right - you ought to be able to incorporate characterisation into the action.
Look forward to reading it in the writing groups!
 
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