Introducing IC before MC

Can anyone think of a successful story (especially a novel) that starts in the IC’s perspective BEFORE introducing the MC’s POV?

Curious to see how they handle the switch in focus without disappointing/confusing the reader

There is an episode of Black Mirror (USS Callister) that introduces the Antagonist first, and I bring it up because he feels like he’s going to be the MC. It was a bit jarring when they made the switch.

Best I can do at the moment.

The Matrix starts with Trinity in an action sequence (and Morpheus on the phone, as I recall). Collateral starts with the Tom Cruise character, I think he’s walking through the airport after arriving in the city?

For a novel, the Harlan Coben thriller Don’t Let Go starts with a prologue which is from the IC’s POV. It’s kind of mysterious about what’s going on, you have to piece things together a bit, but it is from her POV (3rd person close). Then Chapter 1 is in first person from the MC POV. (You can read the prologue & chapter 1 in the Amazon free preview.)

The Force Awakens has a lot of Rey at the beginning, who is technically the IC of that film. However, it’s hard to say how much of that is really Episode 7 IC throughline, and how much is trilogy MC throughline. I’m guessing a lot is the latter. Still, I don’t think it really hurts anything to get up close and personal with the IC.

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A Few Good Men” begins with Galloway and her investigation.
Doubt” introduces Father Flynn’s thought process prior to Sister Aloysius beginning her investigation.

You’ll likely find some instances of this happening in Shakespeare. Othello comes to mind. Thinking about Hamlet but not sure if merely talking about the King’s ghost qualifies.

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The film, My Cousin Vinny? Though, maybe, it’s a trade off. It is one of my most favorite films of all time. I read going back decades of science fiction short stories as well as current in the late 60’s. There might have been a great variety of introductions. They all seemed different. They were fun reads.

Max Barry’s Lexicon starts with the IC – and quite a bit of the novel is told from his perspective, to the point where someone might think he’s the MC. By the end of the novel, though, I think it’s clear.


After I read Lexicon I asked Max Barry why he gave Trump a bareword.

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:laughing: :rofl: :face_with_raised_eyebrow: :neutral_face: :frowning_face: :confounded: :cry:

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Not relevant to anything, Max Barry was discovered out of the slush pile by a friend of mine who read an unsolicited manuscript.


It occurred to me after my response that you might actually know him!

I just read his latest and enjoyed it.

Want one?
Mistborn. :grin:
No spoilers other than who the major IC is. From page 1!

Yes, I should clarify that I meant stories that begin with the IC perspective in the first chapter, not in a prologue. Thank you though!

I feel like I need to be asking for this series for Christmas the way everyone is talking about it.

I don’t really know him, but for a while I was his go-to guy when there were questions about his books getting adapted, which is why I have his e-mail.

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Would that be a trade off? Wouldn’t the reader see the story through the IC’s eyes, then?

Well that’s the risk, isn’t it? I’m just wondering if there’s a way to mitigate that risk somehow

But that is a cool thing! Ic takes Mc place as eyes for audience, then changes. Sounds fun. (But that is my insignificant amateur hobbyist take on it.)

Why should a reader be disappointed or confused by seeing the IC perspective first?
The IC aspect of the character is about a perspective you take on the character, not one the audience takes. Provide that perspective and there shouldn’t be any confusion or disappointment in regards to the message. And those who thought the IC would be the MC will just say that there are 2 main characters in the story anyway, but should still get the meaning.

The best example I can think of would be The Shawshank Redemption. Movie, not book. We get Andy at trial along with flashbacks of him in his car and I think him throwing the gun in the river. Then we switch to Red.

To some extent, you might say that A Christmas Carol starts out with the IC. “Marley was dead to begin with.” And then it goes on for several paragraphs explaining that he is dead and that it is important to know that. It’s presented as though a narrator is telling this to the audience, but it may be seen as the source of Marley’s effect on Scrooge for if it weren’t so that Marley was dead to begin with, then Scrooge would be entirely unaffected by his presence.


The reason I brought up the Black Mirror episode is because I did find it jarring but it quickly wasn’t jarring. I wouldn’t worry about it. Plenty of novels have been told with half-a-dozen narrators.

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Some mystery novels begin with the impact character (villain) commiting the crime before the main character (sleuth) walks on. The shift in focus (point of view) is typically separated with a chapter break.