(The timeline I decided not to include–without the context of events in the novel, terms like “Hoegbotton” wouldn’t have any weight.)
As per my post from Tuesday, this is the first of two follow-up entries on the opening of my novel Finch. Finch is set in my fantastical city of Ambergris, but also borrows heavily from such genres as the spy novel, the noir mystery novel, and certain types of political thrillers. In the novel, an inhuman subterranean species called gray caps has risen up to take control of the city and subjugate the human population. As in Paris during Nazi control, the gray caps attempt to give a semblance of normality by providing institutions of order like a police force, even though these institutions are often merely a faÃ§ade or horrible/absurd in nature. Against this backdrop, reluctant detective John Finch must solve a strange double murder.
The discussion that follows is by no mean complete with regard to what the opening of the novel is trying to do. Nor is authorial intent always paramount, in that when readers encounter a text, the text changes. Neither am I claiming the opening of Finch is perfect. I am simply relating the process that led to the final versions of those first two chapters.
You can read the first two chapters here.
To recap, I felt I had four possible entry points to the novel:
(1) John Finch, 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 four of these approaches, but finally settled on #2.