Novel Beginnings: A Tale of Two Starts

Last night I allowed myself to abandon a novel I was reading after getting nearly one hundred pages in and began reading a new one that, by page 30, I know I will stick with until I finish the book. What made the difference?

I picked them both up from the library on the same day. The covers and back matter are of similar quality. They are the same genre, one of my favorites, fantasy.

The settings are similar—both medieval fantasy worlds. As a matter of fact, the setting of the abandoned book was one of my favorites, Arthurian Britain.

The writing itself was of nearly equal quality. Like in most fantasy novels there were a number of strange words and names to get used to, but I did not find it distracting in either book, because as stated above, I love fantasy.

The established plots were both intriguing.

The main characters were likable.

So, what was the problem?

It came down to point-of-view. The first book hopped, not within the chapter, but from chapter to chapter. I’d get to know and like a character, and pfwitt! He or she would disappear from the storyline and another one would appear. I got tired of waiting for someone I could consistently care about, and so I abandoned the book.

The book I began last night started with one character and stuck with him. He, too, is a likable guy, and he’s in a real pickle. I want to find out what happens to him, how his problems do or don’t get resolved, see how he will cope with this difficult situation I find him in. I’ll finish reading this book.

The funny thing is, as a writer and beginning work on a new novel, I had been wondering if I was being too simplistic starting out in limited third person, tight. After this last week’s reading, however, I think I’ll stick with it, until at least page 50 :-)