26 April 2014, Writing Ideas - Vampire Novel, part 16, Submarining Your Initial Scene
Announcement: There is action on my new novels. The publisher renamed the series--they are still working on the name. I provided suggestions as did one of my prepub readers. Now the individual books will be given single names: Leora, Leila, Russia, Lumiere', China, Sveta, and Klava--at least these are some of the suggestions. They are also working on a single theme for the covers. I'll keep you updated.
Introduction: I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. This was my 21st novel and through this blog, I gave you the entire novel in installments that included commentary on the writing. In the commentary, in addition to other general information on writing, I explained, how the novel was constructed, the metaphors and symbols in it, the writing techniques and tricks I used, and the way I built the scenes. You can look back through this blog and read the entire novel beginning with http://www.pilotlion.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-novel-part-3-girl-and-demon.html.
I'm using this novel as an example of how I produce, market, and eventually (we hope) get a novel published. I'll keep you informed along the way.
The four plus one basic rules I employ when writing:
1. Don't confuse your readers.
2. Entertain your readers.
3. Ground your readers in the writing.
4. Don't show (or tell) everything.
5. Immerse yourself in the world of your writing.
All novels have five discrete parts:
1. The initial scene (the beginning)
2. The rising action
3. The climax
4. The falling action
5. The dénouement
The theme statement of this new novel is: An agent of the organization becomes involved with a vampire girl during a mission, she becomes dependent on the agent, and she is redeemed.
The ways to submarine your initial scene are a prologue, a non-action initial scene, an initial scene that is backstory.
So, dump the prologs. I don't like prologues, readers ignore prologues (they don't read them), and publishers don't like prologues. If you put in a prologue, the chances are great that you will have a novel that is unpublishable. In fact, if you speak to many writers (with a publishable work) who initially had a prologue in their novel and pulled it out--they found the novel was acceptable to a publisher.
The problem with prologues is that they blunt the power of the initial scene. Now, full disclosure, I have three novels with an introduction--they are called prologues in the novels. They really aren't prologues, they are really introductions that are intended to be both funny and to give the reader information that is not otherwise available in the novels. The question is this--just what is a prologue. A prologue is a part of the action or narrative that is written to allow the reader to understand the novel. The reader doesn't need to read my prologues to understand the story. I included them to give a feeling to the novel and not to provide information the reader required to understand the novel. I will admit, my introductions do give the reader some insight to the culture of the novel, but they are not required. You might ask, then why include a prologue at all--that is the right answer. I really shouldn't have included the prologues at all. I was trying to follow in the footsteps of Jack Vance who provided this type of information in his novels. The reason I left in the prologues is that my publisher liked them. Since I've confessed, I can move ahead with explaining why prologues are not a good idea.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites: