The How, the Where, and the Why…

I almost have the first 8 chapters of my novel, that happens to be around twelve thousand words. Each chapter started off as and introduction to a character – I currently have 6 main characters on the go. This has then been blended a little bit because one of the characters, Grace, is central and connects all the others. So all the chapters now include Grace in some abstract way. And Grace’s chapter includes all the others.

The opening chapter for each character is their introduction and the start of their journey. For me it is important for the reader to see them attempt to break (the how) the barrier with their destination – the where. ( Sorry for being abstract here myself, but those of you who have talked with me directly will know about the destination.) Ultimately, the destination is where the actual story takes place.

This is problematic because I now have six characters almost doing the same thing. Yes the setting is different, the feel is different, but ultimately, six characters walking through a door. So I have fifty manuscript pages of six characters getting to a destination – is it enough? How much of why do I need?

My feeling was always that at the point that the reader fully understands what is happening with these journeys, all six of the characters would have made them, and then I would only explain the why to one of the characters, and thus the reader. Or to a group of the characters – supposing that the come together – and thus to the reader. But I wonder should I bring some foreshadowing of why into the first eight chapters? If I do, the reader is being tipped of about the why in that they know a little about the destination prior to the characters getting there. If this happens, does it weaken the six strands of getting there?

What I do know is that I am missing some important characterisation. A this moment in time the six characters are a little flat. I think in order to help he reader digest the how sections, I need to make sure they learn a lot about the characters involved. So the how sections are no longer just about getting to the where, but about the characters themselves. By the end of each characters introduction, the reader must feel something for them, and feel that maybe they are starting to understand a little about them.

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Managed to spend a good amount of time writing this weekend. I needed to get to grips with the first chapters of my story and some how pull it together. Once that is done then I think I have a good base to move forward. The problem is that the chapters deal with the six major characters and because they are the opening chapters then they have to pull the reader in, keep them gripped, and move them forward, without let up. Personally I think that can sometimes be a tall order for the first fifty pages at the best of times. The real problem is that you could argue that technically, the book starts after these first chapters so conventional wisdom would suggest cutting them. However these chapters are essential for the understanding of the concepts of the book – so it is important that they keep the reader gripped!

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