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Monday, April 7, 2008

Response to "How Not to Begin"

In my last post, Candace E. Salima said...
Prologue serve a purpose if an extended amount of time takes place between the prologue and the beginning of the story.Dreams serve their purpose in writing, if the writer is very, very careful and doesn't overuse that tool. So I wouldn't necessarily buy into that one.Opening with dialog, is tricky, I agree.

My response to her comment:
I agree, Candace, that Prologues can work, sometimes, but I believe it serves writers better to write their book without the prologue first, and if it's still needed, then add it. I recently rewrote a book that began with a prologue I felt was vital to the story because it showed an event which happened when the main character was a child and affected/motivated her actions through the entire book; yet, after rewriting it, I found I was able to write a stronger, more immediate story without it. I did, however, have to use a flashback or two, another tool that is not always recommended. I guess the moral to this story is: Do whatever you have to do to make sure your story both makes sense and remains "immediate."

As far as dreams as beginning hooks go, I stand with my original statement. But I do want to clarify that I'm talking about dreams that are merely gimmicks to catch the reader's attention. Those dreams, like in Harry Potter when he "dreamt" about Voldemort killing the innocent old man, which turned out to be true and immediate to the story, are not the kind I am discouraging. Only those where the main character is facing something horrible, like a haunted forest, and only escapes when he "wakes up and learns it was all a dream." I believe such tactics only "let down" the reader.


Anne Bradshaw said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog, Ronda. To answer your question (in case you don't get back there), no, I haven't heard anything. How about you? Did you send her anything?

By the way, I'm so sorry if I didn't say hello at the Storymaker conference. I missed so many people through not being observant enough. There was a lot going on!

Anonymous said...

For me, prologues are useless. I never read them. In the case of the Pern series, the prologue was actually detrimental to the storyline. I fell in love with Pern as it was a fantasy, and I just hatedthe sci-fi element in the prologue.

I guess the long and short of it, for me, is that if it is important enough for me to read, it should be in the story itself.

Anna Maria Junus said...

I hate rules.

So I break them.

I've found lots of stories that break them effectively.

Most of these rules are based on the latest fashion in writing. And yes, there are passing fashions.

Another writer told me to just pay attention to what is being published now. But if I want staying power, I'll write what needs to be written now. Otherwise there would be no Harry Potters, or Lemony Snickets.