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Where do I Begin? #MFRWauthorBlogChallenge Week 42

So, last week we discussed when to end the book. This week it’s how to begin it. Or more importantly, where to begin it.

I’ve heard from several traditionally published authors that most editors despise a prologue. They find them wordy, too backstory-laden, and don’t do much to push the story forward or get readers engaged.  They think most prologues are too much tell and not enough show. The editors feel  writers should be able to weave all the story details they want to tell before they tell the actual story, into the actual story and not weigh down the beginning with details that could be divulged elsewhere.

There’s something wise about this, I think.

But….

The very first book I had published, SKATER’S WALTZ, had a three page prologue that showed my heroine winning her first Olympic gold medal. I felt it set up her emotional makeup and allowed the readers to know a bit about why she was the way she was when the book opened in chapter one.

 

My editor ( whom I lovelovelove with all my heart) didn’t agree. For all the reasons I gave above she felt we should nix the prologue and start the story in chapter one. Since this was going to be my first time being published I bowed to her wisdom, bit my lip, and agreed to trash the first 3 pages.

Did I regret it? At the time, yeah. Do I now? No, because she was right. The book started where it needed to start. And I was able to incorporate those winning moments into the story without any problem. Where I placed them actually made sense for the scene, too, so yay for that!

Fifteen books later and I still struggle with wanting to put in a prologue for some on my novels. It still feels right to me and I get all angsty about giving too much info away at the beginning and knowing when to pull back. Or thinking the reader simply needs to know these details now so they’ll understand where the story is going. I think I’d be a better writer if I remembered to simply tell my story the way it should be told – with the reader learning everything she needs to know as she is reading the book and not beforehand. Foreshadowing is a good literary tool when used effectively within the story. But too much is, simply, annoying.

Many famous and well-selling authors use prologues all the time and their readers don’t seem to mind. I certainly don’t. I like a good prologue because to me it sets the story up, let’s me know that something good ( or evil) is coming, and gives me a sense that the past events that happened to these characters is going to mold their story.

I’ll be honest and tell you I haven’t published a book with a prologue yet. Have I written them? You betcha. Published? No.

Maybe one day…..

Let’s see what some of the other authors in the blog hop think about prologues. MFRWAuthorBlogChallenge.

And, when I’m not struggling over whether to include prologues or not in my stories, you can find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe // Monkey me //Watch me

 

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#TheGreatAmericanRead “What we do for Love” Episode #4, #PBS

You can guess by the title of this current episode, that we’re talking about books where love features heavily. And it’s not just romantic love either. There’s love of family, love of country. There’s even love of self.

The books listed fall into different categories of love, starting with love that’s not exactly of the normal definition.

  1. Destructive love. In these books, we see what the protagonist thinks of as love, can be something else entirely. From obsession to unrequited to leaving the love of your life,  these loves fall on the darker side of the emotion. Americanah, Looking for Alaska and the Great Gatsby are part of this category.  Is there anyone on the planet who doesn’t think Jay Gatsby is just a little left of stable, mentally? He is so obsessed with Daisy he remakes himself into something he isn’t just so he will fit into the man-mold he thinks she wants. Ultimately and too late, he realizes how destructive that love is. Unrequited love is the major theme in Look For Alaska, John Green’s Debut YA Novel. The story concerns Miles and a classmate of his, the out-of-his-league Alaska. Americanah is told from a Nigerian immigrant’s perspective and deals with coming to a new country and leaving a first love behind.
3. My favorite category, of course, is romantic love and the two books listed, Pride and Prejudice and Gone With The Wind are my two favorite books of all time, as anyone who is a frequent reader of my blog knows! Pride and Prejudice set the tone and example for what a romantic novel should be almost 3oo years ago. Jane Austen quite literally redefined the blueprint of the romance book. And, like Little Women, the protagonist is a second sister. Independent, outspoken, opinionated Elizabeth Bennet is Fitzwilliam Darcy’s foil on every level. Or is she? That’s the crux of their story. This may be the first enemies to lovers trope written and it is still at the top of the heap.
Mitchell’s GWTW tells the tale of another independent and opinionated woman, Scarlett O’Hara, but where most people who have seen the movie think Rhett Butler was the love of her life, they’d be wrong. Which is why, in my mind, the book is always better than the movie. Hands down. Scarlett’s one real, enduring love is her home, Tara. Keeping it is the motivator in almost all of her actions and thoughts, something the book details way better than the movie ever could.
4. The last “Love” category explored was the Enduring love story, or the love that lasts eternally. Some of the choices here were a bit odd to me, but when delved into, do deserve to be here. They include Call of the Wild, The Notebook and (another fav of mine) Anne of Green Gables.
Call Of the Wild tells -at its  basic level – the story of a man and his dog – and how that love they have for each other endures even when one of them dies. While I am not a Nicholas Sparks fan, the Notebook does a good job of showing how, when you love someone, you will go through all the trials and fires of life with them and still love them even when they don’t remember who you are.
Anne Shirley is another of those protagonists who just settles into you heart from the first page. By her shear love of life, living, and people, she turns a sour, dour spinster who doesn’t even want Anne, into a woman who is devoted to Anne entirely. This book covers all aspects of love, from family to friendship, to romantic love, and enduring love. It’s a great book!!
 
This documentary series has been so wonderful to watch and learn from, I sincerely hope you catch it when it’s aired or watch it on demand or on-line later. Since it’s so much easier for me to speak than write – go figure!- I’ll be giving a facebook Live talk this afternoon on my FB author page at 2pm EST of you want to join in and discuss some of these books. Here’s my link: Peggy Jaeger, Author Hope you can join me.

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