RB: Help! A Question For #Readers and #Writers

This week I just have a question for the readers and writers out there. 
When I start reading a book, I assume the first scene, the first POV, I read will be of the main character. Do you feel the same?
Readers, how important is it that a book start with the main character? And would you feel ungrounded in the story world if the main character didn’t show up until scene two?
Writers, do you always make sure to start your story with the main character?

18 thoughts on “RB: Help! A Question For #Readers and #Writers

  1. I expect that too, and when I’m writing I try to keep it that way. When reading, if I know from the back of the book who the main character is and the first chapter is from a different character’s POV, I usually expect that person to die by the end of the chapter.

  2. I do expect the first chapter to be in the main character’s POV. Unless the first scene starts in the antagonist’s POV for a murder mystery, or a victim’s POV…that would be okay.

  3. Both options are good, as far as I am concerned. Sometimes using someone else to introduce the plot/main character can be a great way of creating tension. As long as the writer is aware why he or she is using either option.

  4. It seldom happens with the books I read – or at least based on what I can remember. I know Frankenstein opens with letters and Victor himself doesn’t appear for quite a while – at least, until the end of the chapter. Dracula starts with Jonathan Harker, and then he disappears for a stretch. Most of Michael Crichton’s books started with a situation that would be the basis for some odd science to play out throughout the rest of the book. Can’t say much for others that aren’t first person narratives tho.

  5. I don’t think it is a bad thing to have a main character show up at a second turn. In a way it can give a insight to another character background if that is how you start.

    What if you started of with the main character posing as someone else, not being him/her- self ( I did so) As it turned out later it has a reason. I can come up with some more examples where one can make some look like a main but passing the stick off to someone else.

    To assume as a reader is already giving or having an opinion before the first letter is read. Keeping an open mind and let you be taken by the story is more important.

    Those be my two cents worth of thoughts.

  6. I was just thinking about this the other day – in my writing I have always stuck with writing from the MC POV; so naturally the MC always was present in the first parts. However I recently read a book by RA Salvatore (Homeland series, I believe) where the MC wasn’t introduced until well into the book (maybe 1/4 of the way in) and the beginning of the story was told from his brother’s POV, who later becomes a very secondary character (at least for book one). It was done well, but it confused me a lot: even when they switched POVs and maintained it for the rest of the novel. I guess the bottom line is it can be effective to show back story, but it bothered me. But that’s just IMO.

  7. When I start reading a book, I do assume that the first scene is going to be the main character, but it’s not always. Especially with thrillers and mysteries. I do find it bad writing if the first scene is with a POV character who’s not important to the book–it makes me not trust the author, because obviously, I’m investing in that POV character and if I don’t actually care about them as the story goes on, I disengage.

    That said, as a writer, I’ve started a book with a non-main character. I did it that way because the reader needed to know about a thing that happened long before the main character did, otherwise the story was going to be more confusing than it needed to be. The book had a central mystery and I would have been annoyed as a reader if I hadn’t gotten those clues from the beginning. So I think it can be done. But generally speaking, I’d avoid it.

  8. I sometimes start with a minor character-depends on the genre. In writing rom suspense, thrillers, etc I have introduced the villain’s pov first. As a reader, it usually does not jar me out of the story. But probably would if it was strictly romance. Good question! 🙂

  9. A high percentage of thrillers I’ve read begin with a POV character who isn’t the main character or even a major character; sometimes this character dies in that first scene, and sometimes they get to live but have a fairly minor role in the story aside from their part in that inciting incident.

  10. I expect the first chapter to be about the main character, but I give some allowances to prologues. When writing I almost always start with the main character, but there have been stories that have required deviation. It’s hard for me to say if I would be ruined for a book that failed to start with the main character. If it justifies itself cleverly, then I could forgive it.

  11. Sometimes. My current project opens with the bad guy and introduces his nefarious plot. There is no doubt he’s the baddie. I think it works well for this story.

    Generally speaking, I like to open with the main character.

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