On writing

Starting with the wrong character

Putting Kari Wang first

Linesman, Alliance and Confluence are Ean Lambert’s story. Yet we didn’t start book two, Alliance, with Ean’s point-of-view. We started it with the secondary point-of-view character, Selma Kari Wang.

We were worried how readers would react. In some ways it felt as if we were breaking a promise. We’d promised Ean’s story. Instead, they open the book and find Kari Wang. Only for the first chapter, mind, but how many pages does it take for a reader to decide they don’t want to read the book?

Half a page.

So why did we do it?

Chronologically, Kari Wang came first.

We had three ways to write the story. We could have written the scene as a flashback. But doing that took away a lot of the impact of the scene. It made Kari Wang distant, and less sympathetic.

We could have written it as a prologue. They’re not that common in sci-fi, but we do have them.

Hands up if you’re a reader who skips prologues. Sherylyn is. But there are other reasons we wouldn’t make it a prologue. To us, a prologue should be about something that happened a long time prior to the story starting. Timewise, the incident that opens the book happened at the end of Linesman. Add to that, the person it happened to is a point-of-view character.

The only other option was to write the story chronologically, which is what we ended up doing.

We think it works best, even if the poor reader does have to stop and wonder if they’ve opened the right story.

In other news

Current status: Exhausted
Current status: Exhausted

It’s been a busy week.

Alliance was released on Tuesday. So far, it’s been well-received, with some positive comments from people who’ve read it.

We’ve had a couple of guest posts. We’re linking to those as they come in.

There have also been lots of giveaways, both of Alliance and of Linesman. So many, in fact, that the our blog and twitter feeds are filled with ‘giveaway’ posts. There are two open at the moment. SF Signal for Linesman, and The Qwillery for both Linesman and Alliance.

11 replies on “Starting with the wrong character”

Starting with the wrong character was the right thing. I always believe the first sentence in your book should be your best one; your first paragraph likewise, followed by your best chapter. Doing this drew me in, created immediate suspense, and had me engaged.

I didn’t mind. I knew it was going to focus on Ean, but it’s really important to let others shine as well, even if they’re supposedly secondary characters.

Alliance was everything I hoped it would be based upon the first book! I can’t wait for the next book! For some reason the whole series just draws you in and keeps you rooting for all the characters and wanting to know what happens to them next. Thank you

Just finished ALLIANCE. Great read. I’m hooked keep them coming.
Nice mix of characters and moves at a good pace.Now hopefully I can catch up on some lost sleep.

Just finished Alliance. I’d read Linesman a while back, and several dozen other books in between, and I hadn’t connected them until I was already into Ean’s story. I thought it was a very effective opening — it drew me right in. I really enjoyed the lack of exposition reminders you so often get in sequels. Alliance stands well on its own, and well as no. 2 of 3. I am now eagerly awaiting the next volume. Well done!

A very good read, thank you!

I am definitely not one who reads prologues, I would read the previous book again if I could not remember the essentials.

I think the start with Kari Wang was also very good, immediately starting with something new to the story.
For me, what sets the main character or who’s story it is would be the depth of the characters not chronology or order of chapters. If anything could be improved I think that would be the depth of Ean, he feels slightly 2D in Alliance or maybe does not progress enough compared to the other characters.

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