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I know most writers like to save the love for the very end (or at least writers that I've read, let me know if you're familiar with someone who does it my way), but I have a reason why I'm writing it in this unconventional way that I explain in the comment (number 9 if you count the resolved and reopened comments), I'd love to hear what you think about it.

The story is epic fantasy adventure, primarily taking place on a fantasy world known as the Color Realms. If you are curious to learn more about the world I have already shared some of the other chapters in another question. I have plans for a whole series and eventually maybe even films one day Lord and Lady willing. The two protagonists are teleported from another world to the Color Realms in the end of the third chapter.

The main character is an Israeli American named Ohr, and his female counterpart is a Greek-American named Iris. They share a birthday and both turn 13 at the beginning of the first chapter, which is the age of adulthood in the ancient Judaic tradition. They already had strong feelings for each other before, but because of an incident involving Ohr's best friend Klaus from Berlin, Iris falls deeply in love with Ohr in the first chapter. I'm sharing the link here for you to read, rather than have me explain to you everything that happens to lead up to this strong bond that they form right in the beginning of the story.

First and third chapters of my YA epic fantasy adventure novel

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    "but I have a reason why I'm writing it in this unconventional way" - are you looking for answers, or validation? Seems like you've already made your choice, and it's not like you can just quickly fix up the central idea of your story if we say no. Your posts seem to be more about advertising and showing off your novel-in-progress than asking questions - and, well, congratulations on completing your chapters, but it's not what this site is for. Mar 25 at 9:22
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    With declaration like that, I see it as plot promise that this love will be sorely tested.
    – Alexander
    Mar 25 at 17:48
  • To be clear, 13 is the age of adulthood for males in ancient Judaic tradition. for females the age is 12.
    – Esther
    Mar 25 at 17:51
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    I'm not really qualified to address the main topic, but doesn't "The Princess Bride" (both book and movie) start off with Buttercup and Westley in love?
    – anjama
    Mar 25 at 18:09
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    Are you trying to write a Romance? Is the developing relationship between these two characters a central point? Or are they just a couple and the main conflict is them vs. the world? Mar 25 at 20:07

3 Answers 3

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The answer to "Should I?", is always "Yes, if that makes for the better story".

One reason love is usually found at the end, is because the journey to get there is a subplot. And also because it's a nice pay-off at the end. But there are reasons why you might want to establish early on that characters are in a clear state of love.

For example in both "Floris and Blancheflour" and "Aucassin and Nicolette", the titular characters are in love at the start of the story. But then, they are separated (because the king won't allow it). And the story is a quest for them to find each other again.
If they weren't in love, that wouldn't make a lot of sense. Their love is the motivation for their quest.

Another example that comes to mind is "Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun/My Little Monster". Here one character declares his love almost off the bat, and the girl quickly realizes she is in love as well. But she doesn't want to admit it, or deal with love at all. An important part of the story is her struggle between her feelings and her ambitions.

Of course, in both cases, the end goal of the story is still to end up in the happy state of unencumbered love (again).

Perhaps another example is "Romeo and Juliet" were it's also made clear early on that they are in love, and that it's not allowed to be. But in this case there is no happy resolution at the end, because it's a tragedy.

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  • Romeo and Juliet might be a counter-example. They meet during the play and we see all of their (very fast) courtship. He even starts in love with someone else. Mar 25 at 19:59
  • They fall in love by the end of the first act, with 4 more acts to follow, so I think it works. At least to extent that the story isn't about finding love at the end, but about how their love (due to the feud between their families) leads to tragedy.
    – towr
    Mar 25 at 21:14
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I'd recommend against this, although it is possibly okay at the end of the first chapter.

The reason is quite simple story mechanics. At the beginning of any story, your audience does not feel like they know any of the characters. If they are good, or bad, or villains, or liars, or deceivers. Your audience does not know if they like them. Your characters do not feel like people to them.

That is what first chapters are for, introductions. That is why it is so important for your characters to begin interacting with others in the first 1000 words (about 4 pages of a novel).

A literary agent once told me,

Never open with your character musing about their life, on a run or sitting on a bus or laying in bed or whatever. Always get to interaction with another character as fast as possible.

"Musing" is telling, a scene with a conversation and emotion is showing.

But you have to let your audience know about these two characters, and like these two characters, before they give a crap about whether they are in love or not. They don't know what to feel when one stranger tells another stranger "I will love you forever."

The moment falls flat if your audience is watching two strangers vow love. So what?

Readers know they are at the beginning of the story and they have some tolerance for not knowing, but they are expecting character-revealing moments, and this is not really one of them. They have no context for processing what this declaration is supposed to mean, why each character is important to the other.

You'd be better off skipping this declaration and treating it as a past event; open with them already in love, committed, and taking their mutual love for granted. If 13 is adulthood, they can secretly kiss and embrace.

The first chapter is for the "Normal World" of your characters. So make their romantic love an established fact of that normal world; like a married couple they can casually say "love you" on parting; just make this an established relationship. If you need to part them, then when one must depart the Normal World to deal with something, that is a good time to make mutual declarations of undying love -- Not to start a relationship, but to reinforce commitment while they are separated for an unknown amount of time.

It is a common novice-writer mistake to write passages that make perfect sense to them, because they have imagined their characters so much, that when they read what they wrote, all their memories of "who they are" reinforce the text and make it beautiful. But the audience doesn't have all those memories, you have to create them on the page before the same text will make sense to the audience, and seem beautiful.

You have to build up the foundation of the characters first. And that rules out most deep emotional revelations in the very beginning of stories.

Act I is about the first 25% of the story. I think the earliest you can do this is about 3/4 of the way into Act I, after the inciting incident halfway into Act I. So after about 18% of the story, an undying declaration of love might be well received by the audience, they should know enough about the characters, by then, to care about this.

Otherwise, I think it will fall flat, because we (the audience) are observing two strangers we hardly know.

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    Great answer. I'm curious, I've read and seen many stories that start in the middle of a heavy action briefly, and then continued with a flashback of the sequence of events leading to that. Could that be a close enough alternative for OP?
    – justhalf
    Mar 25 at 12:41
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    @justhalf If the "heavy action" is interesting to watch in and of itself, without knowing the characters at all. Sometimes, sympathy is instant, for example if you show a girl being raped or a guy running from bad guys and getting trapped, the audience sympathizes instantly. But if you just show a fistfight in progress between two guys, we have no idea who to root for, or whether we should cheer or grieve when one loses. Who won? The good guy, or the bad guy? If you can create instant empathy, maybe it's fine.
    – Amadeus
    Mar 25 at 14:06
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    Why wouldn't a declaration of love work as an introduction? Obviously if you're going to write a romantic arc it's shooting your load a bit early, but if the story is about something else it's a pretty solid establishing shot for your protagonists - you have two characters, they're a couple, they're a bit sappy with each other. Now have that declaration be a promise that they'll go on a journey to fulfill. Or throw a second guy/girl into the mix and stir up some drama. Or just have them be a badass sappy couple slaying dragons. Mar 25 at 15:22
  • @MaciejStachowski Perhaps you should actuall read my answer? It doesn't work because the audience doesn't know the characters yet, is not emotionally invested in them, and doesn't know what the "declaration" means. They don't know if they are heroes or villains, if they like them or hate them. The audience starts out neutral; other than a bias toward presuming the opening character is the Main Character and hero. We can get them emotionally invested fairly quickly, but not in the opening scene, unless it is blindingly obvious, like a girl being raped or a child being violently kidnapped.
    – Amadeus
    Mar 25 at 15:48
  • @Amadeus the point isn't to get the reader invested emotionally from the get-go, the point is to establish characters via a punchy, memorable scene rather than an exposition dump. "Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday." is a good opening line even though we don't know who the main character is, and we don't feel sad or upset yet, but it tells us something about the character in a very "show, don't tell" way. Those "emotional action prologues" can work well if you realize their function is establishing characters, not emotional investment. Mar 26 at 3:23
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Don't 'Declare' Anything.

The author should definitely not declare undying love.

The characters could of course declare their undying love for each other. They could do a mock wedding with all their favourite teddy bears. But remember the only information this provides to the reader is they are young and enamoured with each at the moment. Or maybe they only THINK they are in love. They cannot possibly know whether they will love each other forever, or even like each othernext week. Do they have enough life experience to even know what love is?

So you can include this. But it should not be treated as an event in the story. It should be treated as characterization: "These are young and emotionally inexperienced teenagers".

Another option is to show the love for example by one child falling through a portal and the other one instinctively going after them.

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