27 April 2014, Writing Ideas - Vampire Novel, part 17, more 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.
What you want from your initial scene is to set the novel, to introduce the main characters, to introduce the theme, and to bring the reader directly into the action (plot and storyline). A prologue doesn't prevent any of this, but it piecemeals the initial scene so part of it is not at the beginning. For example, if you have a prologue, you can't set the novel (and if you do in the prologue, why have a prologue). You can't introduce the main characters (if you do, why have a prologue). You can't introduce the theme (if you do, why have a prologue)...you get the picture. The point is that a prologue, by definition, describes something outside the sphere of the novel, but related to the novel, to give additional information to the reader that makes the novel (plot and storyline understandable). Usually, a prologue happens prior to the novel and puts the entire novel in context of time or place.
Ah, you might say, what is wrong with that? Then why doesn't every novel have a prologue? A good writer can place the reader in the context of the time and place of the novel without a whole chapter of explanation. As I mentioned, most readers don't read the prologue. Most publishers don't like prologues. Prologues blunt the power of the initial scene. Let's set it at that--the main problem with a prologue is that it blunts the power of the first scene, and the first scene is the critical scene where the author captures the reader and drags him/her into the world of the novel.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites: