Prologue – Use it or lose it?

The Greatest……not really

Prologue 1

A couple of years ago I wrote the world’s greatest prologue. It was an amazing piece of art. Trust me, why would I lie? Yes, you may doubt me all you want but I knocked this baby out of the park.

All twenty pages.

My world’s greatest prologue was woven into a maze of intrigue, adventure and suspense.

In a nutshell it was freaking wonderful.

 

Trouble on the Horizon

Not long after I wrote this epic piece I focused my attention to my on-line writers group. There were eleven in that group and at the time I was certain their positive replies were a mere formality.

It took about a day for their feedback to trickle in and as they trickled the foundation to my world’s greatest prologue slowly chipped away.

All of them were confused. All of them said no. And in the end all of them questioned my sanity for writing such a piece.

 

But….it’s great….I know it is…

Convinced they all had issues….what are the odds…I took my masterpiece across town to a writer’s group looking for a new member.

Prologue 4

The group consisted of seven writers looking to add one more to their group. They had the choices narrowed down to three. It was an excellent group. Full of well-respected writers from the valley. They had a wonderful eye for detail. One was a published author and none of them, I was certain, were dealing with issues from my silly on-line group.

By the end of the evening all seven passed calling my prologue an unnecessary piece. They also passed on me.

 

So there I sat

The world’s greatest prologue went to bat 18 times and struck out every time. For those of you good at math one thing is certain: Numbers don’t lie.

Prologue 2

The following day the prologue was cut. I still have it and I still love it but someday it may be turned into a short story.

The entire experience led me to a question: Do prologues work?

Even though it failed I still liked what I was trying to do. My goal was to give the reader a bit of a flashback of the protagonist’s life long before the story was told.

But the reader said no and that is who we listen to.

 

What do we do?

Even though mine failed does that mean prologues fail? Does the reader need it?

Does it make the story better?

At first I thought a 20 piece prologue was way too long but after a looking at it a little closer 1 page would have been too much.

Some stories just don’t need it which is a bummer because they’re fun. I know, as a reader I like to be in on a few things before I dive in. Kind of like being prepped before meeting the girlfriend’s parents.

So maybe it comes down to the story or in my case it all comes down to the writing. As you can see I still haven’t figured this prologue thing out yet.

Someday I’ll get it right but when I do it’ll be because the reader and the story wants it. I’m beginning to see how closely tied those two are.

It is a mystery I’m sure I’ll never solve. How is it possible I went 0 for 18? You would have thought one would have liked it but writing groups are important and this here is the best example.

prologue 3

Lesson learned.

SPONTANEOUS FRIDAY

A few weeks ago my good friend at The Stubborn Australian – https://thestubbornaustralian.wordpress.com/  – posted a really cool question and answer thingy on his blog.

I have no doubt he was dying to take credit but the true source of this fun little gem came from Claudia Blood – https://claudiablood.com/

I don’t know Claudia but I do know her blog. I suggest you check it out.

Speaking of Claudia I plan of using her name in my future books. It’s one of those names that stands out in a crowd. Unless she can claim ownership, I plan on stealing it.

Anyway, on with the show.

You may notice a list of questions below. I will do my best to answer each one. I will try to be as honest as I can and of course, express as little humor as possible.

Laughter is over-rated. Correct?

 

Would you rather be beautiful, an astronaut or able to walk up, any surface (ie up walls and along the ceiling)? Why?

Beautiful is probably nice but I have witnessed the disadvantages of this gift. Who needs endless free drinks and free backstage passes at rock n roll concerts?

I’m sure an astronaut leads a fantastic life but the image of Earth moving away at a rapid speed is not my thing. Nor this whole anti-gravity bit. I’m a feet on the ground kind of guy.

That leads to walking on walls or ceilings. As mentioned in my previous post, my fear of spiders, who have a habit of walking on our ceilings appear to be quite good at it. If I can’t beat them I might as well join them.

 

Would you rather physically age, mentally age or visibly age?

I am big on youth. Mental youth that is. I’m the one who’s always giggling at things at the wrong place and time. Curiosity, jokes and wearing bizarre shirts that have no place in the world are my thing. Take away the physical and visible stuff but leave my mind alone.

 

You get a time machine watch that can only go up to an hour into the past or future. What would you use it for?

 Super Bowl Sunday. One hour past the end of the game. Las Vegas betting line on speed dial. Need I say more?

 

What small something would you change right now?

Portland, Oregon’s Willamette Writer’s Conference. I will never forgive what you did.

 

What are your plans for getting older?

Happy and curious but most all I will embrace the change.

 

How do you want to spend your time when/if you stop working? Where do you want to be?

Working is writing. I will have a pen in my hand on the day I take my final breath. Where do I want to be? Oh, that’s easy. Surrounded by those who matter the most.

 

You find out (probably from a magic floating wizard or by text or something) that nothing you do today will have consequences. What’s your itinerary for the day?

I will eat sushi for the first time just to see what the big deal is. While I’m eating this strange stuff I will be wearing a really bright skin tight lavender yoga outfit. I will do all of this in my driveway on a busy summer day surrounded by neighborhood garage sales.

 

When you die your ghost will be trapped in the place of your death, where do you want to die?

Now that I know this will happen I might as well have some fun with it. There’s a cool looking house here in Eugene that has all the makings of a haunted house. When the big one strikes I will have them rush my barely alive body to the floors of this magnificent place. Oh, the fun I will have.

 

That concludes my question and answer portion. Hope you had as much fun as I did.

 

Happy Friday Everyone!!!

Haunted House

 

Listening: We’re Really Good at It

Listening

If you don’t like people who are excellent listeners avoid writers.

We are constantly studying people. We listen to their words, the level of their tone and the reaction to the words they hear.

Most of the time we don’t even know we’re doing it. It’s simply the way our minds work. If our mind detects a type of sound we’ve been searching for there’s no stopping it.

 

On the Lookout

 We’re always on the lookout for new characters. It could be a protagonist and their side kick or a one page character of the ultimate antagonist.

Be warn: The ultimate antagonist is one of our favorites.

There are times when we move away from listening and search for a physical specimen but most of the time we’re listening.

That seems to be our favorite.  

We search for these sounds in busy streets and stores. Maybe a bus stop or two or sometimes it could be as simple as the sounds we hear while walking our dog.

One of my favorites was the time I overheard a child explaining to his friend the delicate art of fort building. The look on his friends face and the sound of the fort builder’s voice was pure perfection.

Listen 2

 

We’re not nosy….really, we’re not.

We listen not because we’re nosy, we listen to make our stories real. Readers are smart and they will figure us out the second we’re in over our head. If we want to lose them the best way to go at it is to create someone we know nothing about.

I write about the kind of people I know. It’s my comfort zone. It’s my confident place to be. My goal is to entertain and that’s the only place I know.

When we listen we have a way of detecting emotion in your words. We can tell in an instant the type of day you’re having. We can create the cause of your problems or happiness in an instant and have our own version of your world long before you step out of view.

Our minds are constantly working. Trust me, I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve searched for the off switch. We find tiny bits of information and create the biggest of tales.

The world around us is our playground with parts that are constantly changing and people always on the move. Name me another playground that could match ours or offer as much fun?

How many people can do what we do? I don’t know the number but I’ll tell you one thing: I doubt they’re as good.

Listening 1

 

Do not annoy me

We are silent and we are deadly and we will make you the villain if you annoy us. But not all is lost. If we recognize your forgiving ways we will listen carefully to your warmth, we will search for your smile and sometimes….if we travel deep….we will see your pain.

You give us so many things to write about and it all comes down to the sound of your voice. You will never know who we are but we thank you anyway.

In the end you make our characters deep. You make them real. We could not do this without you.

Don’t mind us as we stand behind you in the checkout line or sit next to you at the game. You are adding layers to our newest novel that someday you may end up reading.

We can’t thank you enough.  

Listen 3

SPONTANEOUS FRIDAY

To all of my dear friends in Australia – You have some nasty spiders.

Australia Spider

 

I have a problem

I have Arachnophobia.

I am not 100% messed up, just 75%. True me on this, I worked out the numbers. On the bright side I actually have a history of kindness towards these scary little creatures.

I guess that’s where the 25% comes in.

I have spared small spiders, skinny ones and numerous daddy-long-legs. There is an argument that they are not actually spiders but I’m going to say they are.

Daddy Long Legs

Just last week a small garden spider found her way near our front door and cast a beautiful web near the light switch. Knowing location is everything and this being a poor one, I grabbed the nearest plastic cup and took her outside to a nearby tree.

 

STOMP!

These are nice stories and equally nice rescues on my behalf but if I spot a thick body spider running across my floor I will flatten it like a discarded pancake.

If you’re a spider and you happen to be reading this…first of all thank you for the follow…I have no problem if you do your thing outside, but the moment you make my home yours, well, we have a problem.

 

Minding my own business

Yesterday morning I was at ease at my kitchen table outlining novel number two. I was in a nice zone, writing an equally nice scene.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw something. It only took a second to know what it was.

I’m not sure this is the kind I saw but you get the idea.

Oregon Spider 1

I have had my gold star days when it comes to good deeds and as I have noted spiders are a part of them. When the girls were little they became huge fans of Charlotte’s Web. As luck would have it a giant egg sack full of baby Charlotte’s hatched in our garage.

Under the guidance of my four and six year old daughter’s, yours truly found a safe home for all the babies in a nearby bush. I was so proud.

But on this particular night as I worked on novel number two there were no good deeds to be found as an ugly black and white spider dashed across my pages.

The spider dodged the killing machine otherwise known as a paperback. Within seconds the thick body sprinter disappeared.

 

Do Spiders think about me?

spider cute

I often wonder if spiders can think. Do they have days where they’re happy, sad or bored? Do they self-medicate by way of a blackberry root, do they join up at the local water cooler and share lies about their day?

I doubt we’ll ever know the answer to these important questions but there is one thing I do know: That annoying black and white pest had a sick sense of humor.

Later that day after a good day of writing I settled into my favorite easy chair for a late afternoon read. Ten minutes into my adventure the star of my blog flashed his black and whites across our walls.

Was he near my feet? Was he on my chair? Wherever he was he could now be located inches from the ceiling directly over my head.

With my book as my weapon I paused and secretly admired his versatility while hoping to squash him like a grape.

As the day moved to evening we spent our remaining hours watching our favorite show. Halfway through we noticed the lead character appear unaffected as an ugly bug danced across her face.

Realizing it was my old friend I sat helpless as the little beast touched the entire screen like a ballet dance on center stage.

I was pretty sure it was following me. I don’t know why it chose me. Clearly I’m not the one to make friends with especially if you know my condition. But somehow we were bonding in the most unusual way.

 

A final farewell

Spider 3

With the wife and kids calling it a night I spent my final hour of the evening in the exact location where I began. But this time there was one added feature:

A large plastic cup.

As I was about to call it quits I spied him. Edge of the table near a spare envelope just north of the water bill. It was about this time that the theme song to Gun Fight at the OK corral appeared –not really but you get the idea. 

With the plastic cup in my hand and my eyes focused I readied myself for the next move.

We seemed to be deadlocked in a staring match. The only question: Who would blink first?

Suddenly the little guy made his move sprinting east like a sprinter stealing second. In one swift move the plastic cup came crashing down followed by the envelope containing the water bill underneath.

A minute later my little black and white friend was scurrying away into the unknown otherwise known as our backyard.

I would like to think he turned and waved as the adventures to our day came to a happy end. Being a writer I guess I can make that up and say that he did and you being a reader can pretend it was true.  

Now that’s my kind of spider.

Spider Web

 

Happy Friday Everyone!!!!