Should I Open With the Main Character or the Threat?

by Robert
(USA)

Question: My story is a team of mythical characters band together under The Project to battle a cosmic threat. However should I show the audience the threat first or introduce and bring the main protagonists together first.


Answer: This question comes up a lot: whether to start with the first event of the overall story, or that of the main character's throughline.

The simple answer is that it doesn't really matter in terms of story structure. You can find plenty of examples of successful stories with both types of openings.

It's a question of what feels right for your particular story, and what will be most interesting for the reader.

I haven't counted, but I suspect that the majority of action-driven stories start with the overall throughline because it's easier to hook the reader with the inciting incident. You're also telling the reader up front that this is an action story.

On the other hand, if your story is a decision or character-driven story, the first event of the main character's throughline might be a better hook. Again, showing your reader immediately what type of story it is helps target the audience that likes that type of story.

Just make sure that if you open with the main character, you open with an event - an irreversible and significant change in the character's life that gives him/her a new purpose.
In other words, you set him out on a journey that will challenge him.

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