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?

Back To The Beginning

Always listen to Vizzini
I am going back to the beginning.
I’ve been working on my novel for seven years. (Arrgh, has it been that long?) It has been interrupted by real life on a few occasions. It has survived attempts to abort, to give up, or just plain old neglect. It has sat in my head, asking to come out. Politely, most of the time. (Don’t ask about the other times.)

I’ve kept reading, studying, and yes, writing over that time. I’ve stuck with it, and I have a strong committment to finish this year. I’ve written more in the last few months than I have in…well, ever. If I never get published, I will not be a writer who “started a novel” but never finishes one.

Part of my motivation is entering a writing contest that will critique the first 15 pages. If it does well, they may want more. I guess I should have *more* to offer, so it is a deadline of sorts.

In one sense, my first 15 pages are tight. I’ve read them over and over, cut unnecessary words, and edited them to death. There’s still a problem though.

It is the earliest stuff I wrote for this book.

I’ve learned a lot since then. I knew that I should rework some of it, and planned to do it in the revision process. People who have critiqued me gave suggestions, and I realized there needed to be improvement.

This recent blog post from James Scott Bell hit it home for me. He talks about the importance of the first impression, and lists four things that he said should be avoided at all cost. I had two in my first couple of pages.

*sigh*

It is hard to go back and axe something that’s been with me since the start. I’ve read my opening over and over. I’ve polished them as much as I can – but I never made any significant edit to the substance. It might be polished, but it’s not gold, so who cares.

I knew revision would be hard, but I had put that off as something down the road. “Cross that bridge when I get there.” Well, the water’s up to my chest, so I’d better back up and get on the straight and narrow. I wrote something that was amateurish. Hard to admit, but I think if I picked up my book on the shelf with the current opening, I’d probably put it down.

So here we go. Time to go back to the beginning.

The clip below will show where my mind was when writing this post, and explain the picture for those who didn’t get it. I’m a geek, I know…

Have you had something in your story for a long time you finally had to kill?

Back To The Beginning

Always listen to Vizzini
I am going back to the beginning.
I’ve been working on my novel for seven years. (Arrgh, has it been that long?) It has been interrupted by real life on a few occasions. It has survived attempts to abort, to give up, or just plain old neglect. It has sat in my head, asking to come out. Politely, most of the time. (Don’t ask about the other times.)

I’ve kept reading, studying, and yes, writing over that time. I’ve stuck with it, and I have a strong committment to finish this year. I’ve written more in the last few months than I have in…well, ever. If I never get published, I will not be a writer who “started a novel” but never finishes one.

Part of my motivation is entering a writing contest that will critique the first 15 pages. If it does well, they may want more. I guess I should have *more* to offer, so it is a deadline of sorts.

In one sense, my first 15 pages are tight. I’ve read them over and over, cut unnecessary words, and edited them to death. There’s still a problem though.

It is the earliest stuff I wrote for this book.

I’ve learned a lot since then. I knew that I should rework some of it, and planned to do it in the revision process. People who have critiqued me gave suggestions, and I realized there needed to be improvement.

This recent blog post from James Scott Bell hit it home for me. He talks about the importance of the first impression, and lists four things that he said should be avoided at all cost. I had two in my first couple of pages.

*sigh*

It is hard to go back and axe something that’s been with me since the start. I’ve read my opening over and over. I’ve polished them as much as I can – but I never made any significant edit to the substance. It might be polished, but it’s not gold, so who cares.

I knew revision would be hard, but I had put that off as something down the road. “Cross that bridge when I get there.” Well, the water’s up to my chest, so I’d better back up and get on the straight and narrow. I wrote something that was amateurish. Hard to admit, but I think if I picked up my book on the shelf with the current opening, I’d probably put it down.

So here we go. Time to go back to the beginning.

The clip below will show where my mind was when writing this post, and explain the picture for those who didn’t get it. I’m a geek, I know…

Have you had something in your story for a long time you finally had to kill?