Can I switch MCs after 3 chapters? And Would that need 2 plots?
Question: Here´s another question that´s been eating my insides. I am confident that you will come up with a great answer, for you are truly awesome!
My story´s main theme is - family/blood ties and passing the torch.
It begins with one of my MCs. He is the father--we see his life, his son has just been born and then BAM, something happens that changes his life drastically and he disappears after 3 chapters...We switch to 13 years later--in comes his son, who is actually the real MC ( it´s a tween novel). Each one of these characters has an agenda--the boy´s agenda is to find out what happened to his father, and to understand who he is as a part of his family--but I´m interested in showing his father at the beginning because I want the reader to have mixed feeling about him--just as the boy will...so...is it ok to do this? And--would I then have to work with 2 plot lines, one for each character? The father comes back at the end thanks to the son´s unraveling of the mystery.
I ask because many people have said that you should always begin your novel with whoever will be the MC. Everyone has said that they like the first three chapters but that they begin to fall in love with the father and they don't like the fact that he disappears...because the rule states that...bla...bla...bla...
Thanks in advance!Answer:
I don't think you should be overly concerned with following the "rules," but it is true that readers will tend to become attached to a character's point of view, especially if that is the only point of view they have known for the first three chapters. They will assume this is the main character.
This can be especially risky with YA books, because teens like to read about characters who are like them or perhaps slightly older. So you could have some readers put the book down if they don't like the father character and others who like the father and are disappointed
when he disappears.
Nonetheless, the plot structure you are following is quite often done successfully. Essentially, I assume, you are starting with the first signpost in the overall throughline (OSS1), which involves the father, and following this with the first signpost of the main character throughline (MCS1), which introduces the son.
To take a well-known example, the first Star Wars
film works this way. It begins in the point of view of the droids and R2D2's mission to deliver the stolen plans. Luke Skywalker only enters the story after many scenes.
So one option is to simply keep things the way they are.
Another option: Sometimes writers will put the OSS1 into a prologue, in order to reassure the reader that the story has not properly begun yet. Chapter 1 then begins with the MCS1. This too can be a little problematic. Some readers hate prologues and skip them. (But perhaps that's okay. They can always go back later.)
A third approach is to change the order of the story telling. For instance, you could begin with the main character's point of view - make Chapter 1 about the MCS1. Then, in Chapter 2 or later, present the OSS1 as a flashback - or perhaps as a series of flashbacks interwoven with the rest of the story.
Of course (because you can never please everyone), some people don't like flashbacks. So writers have resorted to alternative ways to bring the OSS1 in, such as diaries, videos, dreams, or having a character tell what happened from memory. In some stories, the telling of OSS1 doesn't happen until the end of the story. It's kept a mystery until then.
The bottom line is that you have to trust your feelings on this. Play with the possibilities in your mind and see which one moves you more emotionally. Does it work if you begin with the main character?
You can also try writing different versions and inviting people to tell you which one they like best (keeping in mind that one person's opinion is just one person's opinion).