I've just recently finished building the setting and plot of a fantasy coming-of-age story. I'm happy with the way it turned out; the character arcs feel compelling and the setting supports the plot nicely. I've got everything planned out — all the different subplots have been tied up in nice, neat packages — but I have no idea where to start.
Being a coming-of-age story, there needs to be a lot of character development. Being a fantasy, it's going to take a while to expose the plot. The main arc isn't quite enough to fill an entire book, so there's some room left over to use for exposition, but I don't know how much of it I should use.
The timeline goes something like this:
- Yr 10: Main character meets very important side character.
- Yr 10.5: Main character and side character escape an attack on their home town.
- Yr 10.5-16: Main character and side character scrape out a living in another town.
- Yr 15: Main character and side character, tired of the town and its prejudice, decide to leave and live as nomads.
- Yr 15-16.5: Main character and side character travel from town to town, living mostly off the land and from less-than-legal ways of acquiring goods.
- Yr 16.5: Main character and side character hear whispers of the people who attacked their town and go off to investigate.
- Main story arc begins.
The question: How early should I start? The earlier ones have the benefit of more in-depth setting and character development, but I'm worried they won't have enough action to hold the reader until the main plot. Likewise, the later ones feel like they throw the reader into the story far too quickly.
At this point, I really have no idea how early in the story I should start. There's downsides to starting early, but there's also downsides to starting late, and without a good idea of how long the main arc will be I really have no idea how to decide.
Does anyone have any suggestions?
Edit: As some of the comments pointed out, I forgot to mention the length of the story. While I haven't ironed out that detail yet — it's partially based on the point at which I end up starting — it's certainly not a short story, but it's not a multi-book series, either. The best comparison I can make is slightly longer than The Hobbit, but it remains to be seen just how much longer it will be.