>>This is the second post in a continuing series on craft centered around discussion of my novel, Finch.
Sometimes the most complex effects rely on simple decisions. If you don’t put thought and effort into such decisions, the foundation of your novel is flawed and nothing you build on that foundation will be truly sound. (See Vladimir Nabokov’s Cornell lectures, which discuss things like the floorplan of a house in Jane Austen’s work, for example.)
In Finch, I had several decisions on how to begin the novel, each of which would’ve made a big difference to its tone and its later effects.
Choices on where to begin included:
(1) John Finch, reluctant detective, standing over two dead bodies, at the crime scene. Beside him are his inhuman gray cap boss, Heretic, and a Partial (a kind of traitor willingly working for the gray caps).
(2) John Finch poised at the door to the apartment, inside of which are the bodies, the Partial, and Heretic.
(3) John Finch at the police station, receiving the call from Heretic about the murders, telling him to come to the apartment.
(4) John Finch in some guise giving readers an overview of the fantastical city of Ambergris in which the story takes place before being called to the crime scene.
I tried all of these openings. Only one stuck.
>>>If you’ve read the novel, you know what I settled on. Do you know why I chose it? I’d love to hear reader speculation.
>>>If you haven’t read the novel (or even if you have), what do you think are the pros and cons of each approach above?
(If you participated in one of these discussions during my book tour, it’d be great if you’d chime in after a day or two, allowing others to comment first.)
I’ve prescheduled a longer post for Thursday explaining my own point of view on the various approaches so that you can read my thoughts prior to me factoring in your comments, and then we can discuss further if anyone’s interested. (I’ll include further analysis of the opening two chapters, as well.)
If you’d like to read the beginning of Finch, the publisher has the first chapters online.