This thread surprised me, for I’d never thought that a story should begin with the protagonist. I don’t recall seeing this practice being given as advice by writing gurus.
Of the five Cornish Detective novels I’ve written, all feature the victim in Chapter 1. Three begin with the person about to be killed, one with a sinister ex-detective listening to radio chatter about the finding of a victim and, in the first story, with a witness discovering a corpse on a beach. In all these books my protagonist appears in Chapter 2.
That was my strategy from the start: here’s the innocent victim followed by here’s their avenger.
Admittedly, my protagonist copper appears in Chapter 1 of my work in progress, the sixth story, but I felt compelled to do this, as I’d left him in a coma at the end of Book 5.
I currently have five novels on the go, reading Patrick Gale’s Take Nothing With You,
Niklas Natt och Dag’s The Wolf and the Watchman
, Philip Pullman’s The Book of Dust
, Mick Jackson’s Yuki Chan in Brontë Country
and Jane Gardam’s Old Filth.
All begin with the main character, though the latter starts with a prologue discussing his death.
Intrigued by this, I had a look at the first chapters of five paperbacks acquired from my local charity shop. Mark Billingham’s The Burning Girl
begins with a prologue, but his protagonist appears in Chapter 1, Kerry Wilkinson’s Down Among The Dead Men
starts with the protagonist, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
opens with the doctor’s lawyer, but Mr Hyde appears in Chapter 2, Tom Rob Smith’s The Farm
starts with the protagonist and in the first person, while Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres
has the main character describing his family’s farm of that size.
It looks like I’ve been breaking the rules
I wonder if it will work….