To Prologue or Not To Prologue



Best I could do…



When does your story start?
That’s silly, you may say. At the beginning. Duh.
But when do you really begin?
In my WIP, my inspiration was an image of a body in the water that is found by a Thai fisherman. From there I started asking how he got there, and the story took off.
I initially started the story with the fisherman finding the body. I recently revised it to show the person found in the water running for his life in the jungle, to make the suspense immediate and to show more connection to events later on. So my first chapter was Travis running and getting caught, and the fisherman finding his body in the water. I then shift to Jenna, Travis’s sister, who is a medical student on training in the ER, showing a day in her life to introduce her character and skill set, for chapter two.
I just got the results back from a writing competition I entered. The feedback was positive, with constructive criticism revealing things I needed to work on. One repeated comment was that I wasn’t starting with the protagonist in the main conflict right away.
One judge suggested the first chapter be a prologue. Another thought I needed to start with Jenna, and show her getting the news about her brother right away.
These are good thoughts, but I think the contest is limited by only being the first 15 pages. In the next chapter I introduce the other main character and his connection to Jenna, with chapter 4 as the point when Jenna finds out about her murdered brother.
My dilemna is how to handle the opening. Is a prologue the right way to go? I’ve struggled with this for a while. I understand why it would work that way. I also hear readers skip prologues. I never do, but then I read the acknowledgements and almost anything else in print in the book.
So this is a question for my writing friends. What do you think about prologues, and how would you suggest arranging the structure here?

To Prologue or Not To Prologue



Best I could do…



When does your story start?
That’s silly, you may say. At the beginning. Duh.
But when do you really begin?
In my WIP, my inspiration was an image of a body in the water that is found by a Thai fisherman. From there I started asking how he got there, and the story took off.
I initially started the story with the fisherman finding the body. I recently revised it to show the person found in the water running for his life in the jungle, to make the suspense immediate and to show more connection to events later on. So my first chapter was Travis running and getting caught, and the fisherman finding his body in the water. I then shift to Jenna, Travis’s sister, who is a medical student on training in the ER, showing a day in her life to introduce her character and skill set, for chapter two.
I just got the results back from a writing competition I entered. The feedback was positive, with constructive criticism revealing things I needed to work on. One repeated comment was that I wasn’t starting with the protagonist in the main conflict right away.
One judge suggested the first chapter be a prologue. Another thought I needed to start with Jenna, and show her getting the news about her brother right away.
These are good thoughts, but I think the contest is limited by only being the first 15 pages. In the next chapter I introduce the other main character and his connection to Jenna, with chapter 4 as the point when Jenna finds out about her murdered brother.
My dilemna is how to handle the opening. Is a prologue the right way to go? I’ve struggled with this for a while. I understand why it would work that way. I also hear readers skip prologues. I never do, but then I read the acknowledgements and almost anything else in print in the book.
So this is a question for my writing friends. What do you think about prologues, and how would you suggest arranging the structure here?

Short Term Missions

I’m a fan. What can I say?
“How about WHAT you’re a fan of,” a random surfer could ask.
Well, random surfer, let me tell you what I like.

I like it when people take a period in their life and dedicate it to the Lord.

It is no secret that I support mission work. Today is Mission Monday if you needed any other hint. I’ve blogged frequently about Youth With A Mission (YWAM), a non-denominational mission organization that I did two training programs with in the 90’s. (Yeah, way back then.)

When I was 18 I attended their Discipleship Training School (DTS) in Lakeside, MT. Even though they have these programs all over, the rustic mountain location was a great place to get away from distractions and spend time with God. We spent three months learning about God, His character and ways, His word, prayer, evangelism, and missions. This time changed my life, from letting me see the depth of the Father’s love for me to His heart for the whole world to come to know Him.

Our school then did a two month outreach in Asia, with my team going to Thailand and the other to Taiwan. Now we put our newfound knowledge and experience to test in the real world. We went to parks and prisons to share about His freedom. We did acts of service and prayed for a demon-possessed man chained to a bare-bones hut in a remote village. We tried to love as best we could. We even played Christian music in a Thai disco on New Year’s Eve

This changed my life forever in so many ways. I not only knew more about Jesus, I had experienced so much of Him. I got away from the small town in Idaho and saw the big, bad world. I learned that we are incredibly blessed in the West, and that there are tremendous needs around the world. Even though I have not been called (so far) to work overseas, my heart has been to shine a light on these needs to people here at home since going.

But this is not the biggest way that my life was changed by a short term mission trip.

My older sister, 15 years older, was often like a second mom to me. She got active in Campus Crusade for Christ while in college. She served a couple of summer outreaches with them, and became dedicated in her walk. At the time our family was not going to church back home. When my sister moved back for a while, she started taking me to the local Southern Baptist church where I got saved and ended up becoming a true disciple in my high school years.
If it weren’t for her influence, and the influence of her short term trip, I may not be standing here today. (And I’m literally standing – I have this cool desk that elevates and…never mind)
This is why I’m an advocate for people to do some kind of trip or service to the Lord where they get away for even just a few months and dedicate it to Him. The rewards are more than you can imagine – IF you let it transform you, and you stay with the Lord.
It isn’t a panacea to all problems. I have had friends who have done these trips and have not continued leaning on God afterwards, and they have had trouble in life. I’ve had my share of trials too, but by trying to stay close to Him, I have by His grace weathered every one so far.
YWAM is awesome, but it is not necessarily for everyone. There are many ways Christians could partake in the type of experience I am talking about today. I encourage anyone reading this to consider taking a similar opportunity if possible.
It may just change someone’s life. Not just your own.

Short Term Missions

I’m a fan. What can I say?
“How about WHAT you’re a fan of,” a random surfer could ask.
Well, random surfer, let me tell you what I like.

I like it when people take a period in their life and dedicate it to the Lord.

It is no secret that I support mission work. Today is Mission Monday if you needed any other hint. I’ve blogged frequently about Youth With A Mission (YWAM), a non-denominational mission organization that I did two training programs with in the 90’s. (Yeah, way back then.)

When I was 18 I attended their Discipleship Training School (DTS) in Lakeside, MT. Even though they have these programs all over, the rustic mountain location was a great place to get away from distractions and spend time with God. We spent three months learning about God, His character and ways, His word, prayer, evangelism, and missions. This time changed my life, from letting me see the depth of the Father’s love for me to His heart for the whole world to come to know Him.

Our school then did a two month outreach in Asia, with my team going to Thailand and the other to Taiwan. Now we put our newfound knowledge and experience to test in the real world. We went to parks and prisons to share about His freedom. We did acts of service and prayed for a demon-possessed man chained to a bare-bones hut in a remote village. We tried to love as best we could. We even played Christian music in a Thai disco on New Year’s Eve

This changed my life forever in so many ways. I not only knew more about Jesus, I had experienced so much of Him. I got away from the small town in Idaho and saw the big, bad world. I learned that we are incredibly blessed in the West, and that there are tremendous needs around the world. Even though I have not been called (so far) to work overseas, my heart has been to shine a light on these needs to people here at home since going.

But this is not the biggest way that my life was changed by a short term mission trip.

My older sister, 15 years older, was often like a second mom to me. She got active in Campus Crusade for Christ while in college. She served a couple of summer outreaches with them, and became dedicated in her walk. At the time our family was not going to church back home. When my sister moved back for a while, she started taking me to the local Southern Baptist church where I got saved and ended up becoming a true disciple in my high school years.
If it weren’t for her influence, and the influence of her short term trip, I may not be standing here today. (And I’m literally standing – I have this cool desk that elevates and…never mind)
This is why I’m an advocate for people to do some kind of trip or service to the Lord where they get away for even just a few months and dedicate it to Him. The rewards are more than you can imagine – IF you let it transform you, and you stay with the Lord.
It isn’t a panacea to all problems. I have had friends who have done these trips and have not continued leaning on God afterwards, and they have had trouble in life. I’ve had my share of trials too, but by trying to stay close to Him, I have by His grace weathered every one so far.
YWAM is awesome, but it is not necessarily for everyone. There are many ways Christians could partake in the type of experience I am talking about today. I encourage anyone reading this to consider taking a similar opportunity if possible.
It may just change someone’s life. Not just your own.

Writing Through The Pain

The red area – it burns!
Sometime you have to write through the pain.
No, literally, you have to write through the pain!
I’m fighting some low back issues for the last couple of weeks, and it may be time to get some injections into the back. Even though I’m in the medical profession, it doesn’t mean I like getting needles poked into me any more than the next guy. But I’ll be alright, although it is a little depressing to be limited when spring is coming and Idaho is actually having a spring. And who knows, there might be something to write out of all of this. 😉
So much for my hook. Yes, I am dealing with some pain, but sometimes we have to write when it hurts figuratively as well. The subject we’re dealing with may be close to our own trials or troubles. We may be exposing feelings or thoughts long buried. It may be just good ol’ writers’ block pinning us down on the proverbial mat, and no matter what we do we can’t wriggle free from its grip.
What do we do?
It isn’t fun to hit the difficult parts, but if you believe what you’re doing is worth it, then it is imperative to power through. In my WIP, I touch on human trafficking. It is not pleasant to deal with some of this, and I have some characters saying things that I find abhorrent. I don’t see a way around it. If I want to see this story to fruition, it has to go there.
One way to break through is to keep writing. If it freezes your progress, it can be difficult to keep momentum. When I hit a point like this, I found setting a timer and making myself write whatever crap that comes out helped a lot. It pushed me through the tough part.

As a Christian, I believe another method is certainly prayer. If it is a personal pain, writing about it can be cathartic but it opens old wounds. Again using medical analogies, sometimes festering wounds need to be opened so the bad stuff can be drained out and true healing can begin. Prayer and Bible study can help with the spiritual healing.

Sometimes we may need to get up, stretch our legs, and move out of the situation to clear our head. If we’re beating our heads against the monitor (hopefully still figuratively here), it might be best to leave and return with a fresh perspective.

At the end, it is important to always get back up again. If it is worth fighting for, don’t stay down. Push through it. And here’s a little musical interlude to help with the mood 😉

What say you? Have you had pain (figurative or literal) you’ve had to battle to keep going?

Writing Through The Pain

The red area – it burns!
Sometime you have to write through the pain.
No, literally, you have to write through the pain!
I’m fighting some low back issues for the last couple of weeks, and it may be time to get some injections into the back. Even though I’m in the medical profession, it doesn’t mean I like getting needles poked into me any more than the next guy. But I’ll be alright, although it is a little depressing to be limited when spring is coming and Idaho is actually having a spring. And who knows, there might be something to write out of all of this. 😉
So much for my hook. Yes, I am dealing with some pain, but sometimes we have to write when it hurts figuratively as well. The subject we’re dealing with may be close to our own trials or troubles. We may be exposing feelings or thoughts long buried. It may be just good ol’ writers’ block pinning us down on the proverbial mat, and no matter what we do we can’t wriggle free from its grip.
What do we do?
It isn’t fun to hit the difficult parts, but if you believe what you’re doing is worth it, then it is imperative to power through. In my WIP, I touch on human trafficking. It is not pleasant to deal with some of this, and I have some characters saying things that I find abhorrent. I don’t see a way around it. If I want to see this story to fruition, it has to go there.
One way to break through is to keep writing. If it freezes your progress, it can be difficult to keep momentum. When I hit a point like this, I found setting a timer and making myself write whatever crap that comes out helped a lot. It pushed me through the tough part.

As a Christian, I believe another method is certainly prayer. If it is a personal pain, writing about it can be cathartic but it opens old wounds. Again using medical analogies, sometimes festering wounds need to be opened so the bad stuff can be drained out and true healing can begin. Prayer and Bible study can help with the spiritual healing.

Sometimes we may need to get up, stretch our legs, and move out of the situation to clear our head. If we’re beating our heads against the monitor (hopefully still figuratively here), it might be best to leave and return with a fresh perspective.

At the end, it is important to always get back up again. If it is worth fighting for, don’t stay down. Push through it. And here’s a little musical interlude to help with the mood 😉

What say you? Have you had pain (figurative or literal) you’ve had to battle to keep going?

Displaced People

Are you glad you have a home? Are you proud to be an American?

What if that were taken from you?

Did you know that there are people in the world that aren’t refugees that do not hold a citizenship in any country? There are people that haven’t been chased out of one country into another due to war or persecution, but they just aren’t counted.

One situation is in the hill tribes of northern and western Thailand. They are technically eligible for Thai citizenship, but the regulations for getting it are often too cumbersome for rural tribes.

Why does this matter?

It limits these people in getting jobs or accessing services, and it makes them especially vulnerable for human trafficking, from labor-based slavery to sex slavery. They are not protected by laws that are otherwise designed to be a resource for workers. They can’t even own the land they live on.

The good point is that organizations like International Justice Mission are working with these tribal groups to facilitate registration and walk them through the confusing processes that are in place currently. By being an advocate, they do prevention work to keep these people from being so vulnerable for abuse.

These things happens nowadays. Thankfully there are many groups working to help this problem. Sometimes we can make a difference before the problem of trafficking actually happens, and working with vulnerable peoples and lifting them up economincally and providing avenues for justice will be the ways we eventually end the problem of modern day slavery.

Displaced People

Are you glad you have a home? Are you proud to be an American?

What if that were taken from you?

Did you know that there are people in the world that aren’t refugees that do not hold a citizenship in any country? There are people that haven’t been chased out of one country into another due to war or persecution, but they just aren’t counted.

One situation is in the hill tribes of northern and western Thailand. They are technically eligible for Thai citizenship, but the regulations for getting it are often too cumbersome for rural tribes.

Why does this matter?

It limits these people in getting jobs or accessing services, and it makes them especially vulnerable for human trafficking, from labor-based slavery to sex slavery. They are not protected by laws that are otherwise designed to be a resource for workers. They can’t even own the land they live on.

The good point is that organizations like International Justice Mission are working with these tribal groups to facilitate registration and walk them through the confusing processes that are in place currently. By being an advocate, they do prevention work to keep these people from being so vulnerable for abuse.

These things happens nowadays. Thankfully there are many groups working to help this problem. Sometimes we can make a difference before the problem of trafficking actually happens, and working with vulnerable peoples and lifting them up economincally and providing avenues for justice will be the ways we eventually end the problem of modern day slavery.

On Violence

Sometimes Writing Wednesday can tip into…Tipped Thursday? Hmm, I’ll have to work on that one.

Anyhoo.

The massive success of the book and movie version of The Hunger Games has brought up the subject of violence in literature again. Some people look at the deeper meaning of the story, and some people can’t get past the teen on teen violence.

They must not remember high school.

Kidding! However, the world of Christian fiction has an interesting dichotomy. Sex and naughty words are a no go, but violence is tolerated/accepted much more. Mike Duran has a good post on this conundrum that I recommend.

I’ve talked about it at length here. My most recent post linked to a couple of articles that took opposite viewpoints.

I also participate in blog tours for books regularly. In 2007 there was a book featured that had some scenes that stimulated my thoughts on the topic of violence.

It ended up spurring six days of posts, with some great discussion on all of the posts. Since it seems relevant with the Hunger Games discussion, as well as catching me up quickly to my blogging delay, I present links to each of the posts.

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6

The take home points were that the Bible is not sanitized when it comes to violence, but it is also not written to entertain but to narrate events that happened and to show consequences. If a Christian author uses violence, it should fit the story and not be done in a gratuitous manner, and they should be sensitive to the Holy Spirit in how to show it. We can’t be afraid of the professional weaker brother, but discernment is always a good thing to exercise.

What say you? Have you noticed excessive or gratuitous violence in a CBA book before? Is there a level for “too much?”

On Violence

Sometimes Writing Wednesday can tip into…Tipped Thursday? Hmm, I’ll have to work on that one.

Anyhoo.

The massive success of the book and movie version of The Hunger Games has brought up the subject of violence in literature again. Some people look at the deeper meaning of the story, and some people can’t get past the teen on teen violence.

They must not remember high school.

Kidding! However, the world of Christian fiction has an interesting dichotomy. Sex and naughty words are a no go, but violence is tolerated/accepted much more. Mike Duran has a good post on this conundrum that I recommend.

I’ve talked about it at length here. My most recent post linked to a couple of articles that took opposite viewpoints.

I also participate in blog tours for books regularly. In 2007 there was a book featured that had some scenes that stimulated my thoughts on the topic of violence.

It ended up spurring six days of posts, with some great discussion on all of the posts. Since it seems relevant with the Hunger Games discussion, as well as catching me up quickly to my blogging delay, I present links to each of the posts.

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6

The take home points were that the Bible is not sanitized when it comes to violence, but it is also not written to entertain but to narrate events that happened and to show consequences. If a Christian author uses violence, it should fit the story and not be done in a gratuitous manner, and they should be sensitive to the Holy Spirit in how to show it. We can’t be afraid of the professional weaker brother, but discernment is always a good thing to exercise.

What say you? Have you noticed excessive or gratuitous violence in a CBA book before? Is there a level for “too much?”