… a very good place to start.
The other day I was reading Jo Eberhardt’s Blog entitled ‘Begin at the Begining, End at the End’. She spoke alot about being able to define what a story is about and that if you don’t have the ‘beginning’ of your story right it makes the defining part just that much harder.
I have always, and I mean always, had trouble defining what my story, Ankhari, is actually about. I can tell you all the twists and turns, I know the characters inside out, but when is comes to condensing what it is about into three sharp sentences I fail (and I know I fail because I am still unable to produce a query letter that I am 100% happy with).
But Jo helped me to see that it is the beginning of my story that is the problem. As the writer, I know that my protagonist has self-esteem issues; that she would love to travel across the country for college but feels trapped by a requirement to stay close to her single mother; that she has never been kissed; that she would give anything to rise above the throng and be extraordinary – just for one day. I know all these things, but my readers don’t. Because with all the cutting and editing to get into the action of the story faster, I lost all of this somewhere along the way. My story has no beginning. If the readers don’t know who my protagonist is, then how can they appreciate her journey?
Don’t worry I plan to fix it!
While we are speaking of beginnings there is something else I would like to talk about – The Prologue.
I can honestly confess that until a few days ago I had no idea that prologues were such a big no-no. Apparently they are literary C4 (as in put one in your story and watch it spontaneously explode!). In Kristen Lamb’s Blog she details the reasons why prologues are so perilous, so I won’t repeat them here. Save to say that of the three novels I currently have in the works, all three have a prologue!
Also, until reading her blog I had no idea that readers tend to skip over the prologue – I have NEVER done this and don’t understand why anyone would. Unlike Kristen I am a big fan of the ‘set the mood’ type of prologue – they help me determine if I am going to bother continuing onto the first chapter.
Let me know your thoughts on beginnings an prologues. Am I just being overly sensitive? (don’t worry, you won’t offend me)
The Exasperated Novelist
p.s. as a side thought I thought I would provide I link to one of the aforementioned Prologues and you can judge for yourselves. Check out my blog Prologue Central.