Tag Archives: writing process

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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Story inspiration; #MFRWauthors #BlogChallenge Week 14

 

Everywhere I look I find inspiration for stories. It doesn’t take a great deal of action or thought on my part, actually. I’m a naturally nosey person and I tend to eavesdrop on conversations that don’t involve me; watch strangers interact with people when I’m shopping; I even pay attention to how people react with one another when I’m on line in the grocery store. Little snippets of conversation, a careless wave of a hand while someone is speaking, and I’ve got a story jarring to be told shooting forth from the back of mind.

Like I said, I’m nosey. Not in your face ask you a million questions nosey and annoying, but I’m the kind of person people – strangers – talk to. I’ve got “that kind of face” I guess. Really, I could talk to a rock if I needed to. And it would probably answer back. This makes me sound like a harpy or a gossip, but I’m not. I don’t go forward and seek information from people – it is divulged to me willingly and without my asking. And just BTW, I’m that gal who people trust with secrets. So…just saying.

So, my writing process starts with people. I see people ( Now I sound like an M. Night Shamylan movie!), I watch them, and I build stories around them. Character always always always comes first. My husband has commented – frequently, I’ll add- that I tend to stare at people when we’re out in public, like at a restaurant or when we’re traveling. Some of my most influential character descriptions have evolved from watching how people behave when they’re on an airport check-in line. Think about the last time you traveled and were waiting….waiting…..waiting on that check-in — and then the security — line. You will see all kinds of human behavior just chockful of character insights.

So. First I see a person, imagine them as a character, then give them an imaginative ( my imagination) background. From there, a plot will form.

Here’s a quick example – and this really did happen. I was mall shopping one day and decided to have lunch so I hightailed it to the mall Pizzeria Uno. Love their grilled chicken salad. But I digress… As I was waiting for my lunch to arrive my eyes took a tour of the other lunch patrons. I saw this: 3oish man and woman across from me. Their body language said they were involved in some kind of an argument – he kept drumming his fingers on the table, she was looking down at her drink, a scowl on her face. They were dressed in business casual, so I assumed they were on a working lunch break. Here’s the snippet of conversation that drifted my way once my salad came:

Him: you need to deal with this. Today. Don’t waste any more time.

Her: Stop pressuring me. I’ll get it done. Just back off, will ya?

Him: Stop being such a bitch about it and just take care of.

So. What did I learn from this conversation? Nothing, really. But my mind went into hyperspace and overdrive at all the options available. Was she a whistle blower? Was he a corrupt banker? Was she pregnant and he was her baby daddy and her boss? Her married boss? Were they doing something illegal? Immoral? Unethical? Dangerous?
See? This is how my mind works.

Now, in all reality, they could have been a young married couple who were still waiting to get their cable television system installed and he was getting mad she hadn’t called the cable company to light a fire under their installing asses. Who knows?
My point is, this is how my writing process works: see a person, imagine them as a character, devise a back story and then a plot for them.

Easy peasy, right?
Yeah…not so much. But it is fun people watching!

 

Since this is a BLOG HOP, click on the titles/names of the authors below to find out what their writing process if like. You put 1,000 writers in the same room and you’ll get 1,000 different responses!

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