Happy Easter! and To Prologue Or Not To Prologue…

I hope you all had (or are having) a restful long weekend (hopefully getting plenty of writing done), and have resisted the urge to indulge in a little too much chocolate =)

I reached a milestone with True Love’s Last Kiss last week. I ticked over 40,000 words, the official cross-over from novella to novel as per the Nebula Award guidelines stated by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Classification Word count
Novel over 40,000 words
Novella 17,500 to 40,000 words
Novelette 7,500 to 17,500 words
Short story under 7,500 words

The story was initially planned as a 7-chapter, 28,000 word novella, with the aim to put it together with the previous three stories published on this very website. Of the many running jokes in my writers’ group, mine was running out of space to shoehorn the story’s resolution into the 7 chapters, which eventually led to expanding the planned length to 20-chapters and 80,000 words.

Past that, my issue was there not being enough foreshadowing of Grace’s backstory in the then-current 10 chapters. The final Chapter 10 scene was her first heart-to-heart with the MML (Mystery Male Lead), a flashback to the very first time she decided to embark on a different path in life than the one prescribed. The revised aim of the story was for the first half to be a team-building journey, and the second being revelation/final fight build.

I decided to go back to Chapter 1, and take it one step further back than the Chapter 1 you can find here. The leader of my writers’ group rolls her eyes at, and has discussed extensively, my obsession with word count. When it’s first draft, you just get those words on the page (or screen), and get out the bonsai shears/clippers/chainsaw later. My aim has always been 1,000 words per scene, 4 scenes per chapter, with chapter count flexible.

As I write, my ‘New Chapter 1’ is at 7 scenes and 9,561 words. When it ticked over 4 scenes without an end in sight, a question popped up in my mind: Isn’t this more of a Prologue than a Chapter 1?

Every time I’ve seen a prologue in the stories I read, it has been one of two things:

1) A far-in-the-past setup for future events; or

2) A quick scene-set for current (or soon-to-come) events.

So, how best to approach this? Well, a definition always helps:

noun
1. a preliminary discourse; a preface or introductory part of a discourse, poem, or novel.
2. an introductory speech, often in verse, calling attention to the theme of a play.
3. the actor or actress who delivers this.
4. an introductory scene, preceding the first act of a play, opera, etc.
5. any introductory proceeding, event, etc.
An introductory portion that sets the scene/theme of the work to come… sounds good. The ‘setting the scene’ is iffy, since she is another region of the story’s fictional country than ‘Old Chapter 1’. Not in the area the rest of the story is set in? Screams ‘prologue’ to me, though it does help ‘set the scene’ for the revelations of chapters 11 through 20.
The Wikipedia page regarding prologues provides an interesting line about its origins:
“It is believed that the prologue … was practically the invention of Euripides, and with him … it takes the place of an explanatory first act.”
So, what was it I was looking to ‘explain’ in the new ‘first act’?
1) The fact that Grace is a fugitive;
2) Show that she has some ‘skills’ (though Old Chapter 1 already does that);
3) Foreshadowing who helped her acquire them; and
4) Tease a link between the points above.
Well, I’m convinced that a Prologue is being written. Where have you had portions of your story requiring additional scenes, extra revelations, or even beign forced to flesh out your character’s motivations?
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One response

  1. Congratulations on all the hard work. Put up your novel soon so that we can all read it! And thanks for the Liebster Award. I haven’t posted for a long time now, because I’ve been busy crafting crochet stuff for people’s gifts for Christmas, New Year’s, and birthdays, so I haven’t been able to do much reading either. But I would be glad to read your story, and I will continue to answer other people’s posts whom I follow.

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