So I’m thinking, this morning, about how I’m going to start this thing. I know, I probably should have done this a while back, but, well, life’s been pretty engaging lately, and so here I am, not quite procrastinating yet, since I haven’t finished my coffee and oatmeal. But pretty soon I will be.
Given how much the story revolves around my protagonist, Sergeat Lee Victorius, it seems like the first thing I need is an establishing shot, as it were; something to give the reader a sense of who he is (or, rather, was, before his involuntary tour of duty) as well as some sense of the world he lives in. I’m thinking maybe a brief montage of his life before the war, his (possibly wrongful) arrest, and the trial where his extenuating circumstances are ignored by the judge for reasons so patently unjust and unfair as to make a reader’s blood boil.
Alternately, I could just throw the reader right into some kind of exciting sci-fi military action, with small arms fire and explosions going off in the near distance as our protagonist engages in some hard-nosed derring-do and perhaps loses a beloved companion to the vagaries of war.
Either way, we’re looking at a prologue, something to establish a little bit about who this guy is and where he comes from, since I believe those things will prove important as the story develops (it’s funny: I’ve been thinking about doing this project for a long time, but I haven’t actually worked out very many of the details). And while I’m tempted to start with the latter, because who doesn’t love gunfights and explosions (I know I do), I think I’m better served beginning with the former, with the glimpse of his life before the war, and how he came to serve in it. War is hell, of course, and the war will hover in the background of the story for the duration (being such a formative experience for our hero, after all), but this isn’t a war story, and I think leaving the things that happened there to the reader’s imagination will better serve the narrative. Perhaps there will be flashbacks.
But I think it’s more important to start with some character- and world-building, even if it’s a little less exciting, because if you don’t care about the character then why read the story?
What do you think?