Chapter 1 takes place in 1953. A girl is kidnapped. She manages to write a note to her friend (they both go to school together but the boy has moved). The letter is destroyed. Her friend is the protagonist. I wanted a good 'hook', which it is, but the protagonist is only 9 years old at the time of the event.

It's quite a long chapter at >3,000 words. I don't like prologues.

Is this acceptable? Has anyone got examples of another author who writes like this?

No, she doesn't solve everything at the end. The protagonist thinks she's dead, but he meets up with the traffickers several times without relation the the original girl.

No one knows where the HQ of the villains is. The protagonist gets involved in several sub plots, but his goal is to dispose of the traffickers.

Finally, in the last few chapters, she manages to escape. It was her first chance and during her captivity. She pretended to be part of them and did all their office work.

Once she escapes, she makes a beeline for the protagonist and only now does he find out where the HQ is so he can take action.

The traffickers are the main antagonists but there are several sub plots all leading to a grand bloody finale.

All I'm asking is the question: Is this a possibility for a story? Assuming I mention the original girl from time to time. From current answers it would seem so.

  • 2
    Welcome to Writing.SE! Your title asks whether it's okay to follow the villain during Chapter 1 instead of the protagonist, but your actual question seems to be about whether it's okay to change POV and/or time period for every chapter. Can you clarify which of those two things you actually want to ask about?
    – F1Krazy
    Dec 14, 2021 at 13:33
  • 1
    I second @F1Krazy's comment. That said, if you are/were asking the question posed in your post's title, then you might want to consider a prologue. However, from the body of your post, it really doesn't seem that your story follows the format of "the first chapter uses a POV never/rarely used again, and serves only an informational purpose", in which case prologues are commonly employed.
    – A. Kvåle
    Dec 14, 2021 at 13:37
  • I still say "she solves everything", he clearly cannot complete his mission without her help in identifying the location of the HQ. She is the key to the plot. IMO, if you do not remind the audience throughout that she is out there, letting them she is dead, then you have a deus ex machina. A "too easy" fix for your protagonist. The kind of thing that will get you bad reviews, and make readers feel like you cheated them. But to each his own, I am not the plot police.
    – Amadeus
    Dec 14, 2021 at 22:11
  • 7
    No, not since the Protagonists Act of 1959, however there's challenge on the way to the Supreme Court, so it might be overturned. Dec 14, 2021 at 22:50

2 Answers 2


Based on the full history of edits to this question:

I think this format is acceptable, except for one thing: "Not mentioning" the original kidnapped girl, since she is going to turn up at the end and solve everything.

You have to maintain the emotional connection the protagonist had for his friend, the first little girl kidnapped. She doesn't have to appear, but he and the narrator should be mentioning her regularly.

He feels guilty he didn't search for her. He is motivated by her disappearance to investigate. He finds Traffickers, and figures she is dead. In seven years she is declared dead. He attends the empty-casket funeral her parents held, and he grieves for her, crying with her parents.

Your original missing girl is the plot KEY. At the end of ACT II, the Protagonist discovers she is ALIVE, and this is the conversion from the protagonist's All Is Lost moment into The New Way Forward. Finding the girl is his Redemption, and leads directly to Taking Down the villains.

But she cannot seem like a Deus Ex Machina; the magical solution at the end.

She needs to by your protagonist's motivating example throughout the story, how he got into hunting Traffickers in the first place. His motivating failure. (Perhaps, years too late, he even discovers that Note she tried to write to him; now a cold trail.)


Skylard III by E.E. Smith (Amazing Stories, Aug.-Oct. 1930, book 1948) opens with a meeting between 2 of the antagonists and villains.

The Project Gutenberg version opens with:

In the innermost private office of Steel, Brookings and DuQuesne stared at each other across the massive desk. DuQuesne's voice was cold, his black brows were drawn together.

"Get this, Brookings, and get it straight. I'm shoving off at twelve o'clock tonight. My advice to you is to lay off Richard Seaton, absolutely. Don't do a thing. Nothing, hold everything. Keep on holding it until I get back, no matter how long that may be," DuQuesne shot out in an icy tone.

And their conversation fills the rest of the first chapter.

When I first read it, not knowing anything about the story, I assumed that DuQuesne must be the protagonist, and continued to do so for a few chapters.

Skylark III was a very successful and famous science fiction novel in its time. The fact that readers who didn't know the plot of The Skylark of Space might assume at first that DuQuesne was the protagonist of Skylark III didn't seem to harm it at all.

So there is nothing wrong as far as I can tell about depicting the antagonist and/or villain in action during the first chapter and only mentioning the protagonist and/or hero in the first chapter.

As far as I know, you could even depict the villain in the first chapter, without ever mentioning the character who will become the hero of the story. Possibly the first chapter might end with the villain thinking that nobody could stop them. And the next chapters might introduce several characters who seem unaware of the villain and the readers might wonder which of those characters might be the one to eventually defeat the villain.

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