Tag Archives: advice

THE NEXT TIME YOU WRITE THAT PROLOGUE, DON’T.

Prologue: What does it mean to your story?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the prologue; as if it were a houseguest I’ve booted and now feel terribly about the fact that it’s raining out.

I’ve written three novels and have published two, and each of them —at one point or another—has contained a prologue. In ERAMANE, the prologue ended up being chapter one, with two parts. That’s one heck of a prologue. But the information—although out of sequence with the timeline for my main character—was absolutely pertinent. Under the advice of my editor, I reworked that prologue and formatted it into the two-part chapter, adding a blank page between it and the rest of the book. There is, however, a little sentence on the page that notates a passage of time. It works well no matter how crappy I’m spelling it out here.

In Blood Soaked Ashes, I begin with a short dream sequence that Eramane is remembering, not actually dreaming. It’s not so much a prologue as it is an emotional slap-in-the-face welcome to book two. But when I started drafting book two, it was a prologue.

In my third book, a sci-fi project that I’m querying, I have a combination introduction. During the drafting stages, I had a one page prologue that gave a bit of info about Earth’s history and what happened to my MC’s parents. Then chapter one begins two years prior to the rest of the book. But this didn’t set well with me as I entered the revision stages. It wasn’t pleasing to the eye and it certainly didn’t appeal to me as a reader. I asked advice from an author friend, who also critiqued the MS. Her opinion was this: scrap that prologue. She suggested that I find a way to incorporate the info into the storyline.

But I didn’t want to scrap it and incorporating it would be sooooooooo time consuming! UGGH! Can’t I just leave it and pray that agents will love my words anyway?

That’s a big NO!

Prologues aren’t meant for info dumps because you can’t find a way to layer your story with its purpose. I’m not going to tell you that you should never use a prologue; they obviously serve a purpose and are used by many authors. But do consider the Why and if it’s justified, roll with it.

Something to consider is a quote. At least this was the direction I took. I was staring at my screen and thinking how in the world do I say all this inside of the story? Part of the prologue was absolutely scrap worthy, so I deleted it immediately. But even after that I was left with nearly four lengthy paragraphs that were integral to the story. Or so I thought. I read those paragraphs over and over until it was memorized. I thought about the words and their meaning to my story and that’s when it hit me. I remembered hearing a quote from a person who is renowned for their science brain and since my story is sci-fi it made this connection. So I used the quote instead of the prologue, because that short sentence lent more relevant content to my story than the four paragraphs I thought were so necessary. No, the quote didn’t tell the backstory to what happened to Earth. That part I did incorporate because a good author will take time to shape their story, even if it means doing a week’s worth of rewrites for just that one component.

I read once where an author said something in the way of If you have a long prologue that is needed to convey the story, maybe you should consider starting your story earlier and build it up from there. Not the exact words and I can’t remember who said this, but it has stuck with me. So, thanks to you, whoever you are.

There are all sorts of opinions on prologues and tips and tricks for writing them. But doesn’t every story begin with a prologue? Even if it’s just one you brainstorm all to yourself?

BUST THAT QUERY STRAIGHT IN THE FACE!

This week was the release of my newest book, Blood Soaked Ashes. It’s book two of The Eramane Saga, and I can’t wait to share this segment of the story with my readers. Publishing this second book has been an amazing experience. I owe much thanks to the lovely ladies that worked closely with me on this. My editors are amazing and my cover artist is a genius. Enough about that. Go get the book! Ok, now that you’ve gone and supported my habit, we can move forward. I am a few days away from finishing up a project that I will be submitting to agents. This manuscript has been on my desktop for a year and a half, and I’m excited about its potential. But what I’m totally stoked about is that I actually have a solid query for it. What does that mean, solid? As opposed to what? Haven’t you been sending outstanding queries, Frankie? Well, I thought I had. I thought I had the best queries that had ever been written and “Why the hell weren’t the agents biting?!” I mean, I had researched what other authors posted as their queries on their websites, and I had read countless articles on ALL.THE.SITES., and I had several rejection emails that offered some friendly advice on what did and didn’t work. I was the master query writer. So “Why the hell weren’t the agents biting?!” I had no answer as to why my queries were being rejected. For almost two years I battled back and forth with this question. But then I decided to seek expert advice. I reached out to my small network of author acquaintances and humbly asked for help. And I got it. And it kept coming and doors kept opening and finally after re-working my query I ended up with a “fantastic” one. (Yeah, that’s an air-quote.) And once I read the final, kick ass version, it was like a light bulb (like one of those coiled hazmat ones) exploded above my head. Der! How simple. How extremely f-ing simple you nerf-hearding ding dong. Yes, I can be hard on myself. But that’s what we authors do. We have to. If we don’t push ourselves and force our perspective in the right direction, no one else will. So, to celebrate my enlightenment, and the release of Blood Soaked Ashes, I would like to offer free query critiques to the first TWO WRITERS OF YOUNG ADULT FICTION that respond. I want to help you find your light bulb. SERIOUS ENTRIES ONLY. PLEASE READ!! PREFERENCES AND STIPULATIONS: Queries for young-adult fiction only please. All genres welcome. Your manuscript should be completed so that you can build a thorough query and essentially a synopsis, which is often required by agents. But before you submit what you think is a good start, check out this website for a well-rounded structure as to what a query should look like. Check out this website for a good example. If yours is already formatted like this, then go ahead and request a critique in the comment area. Make sure you offer the genre and word count and briefly describe the plot. If your query fits my simple and limited requirements, I’ll reply with how you can submit your query to me, and how the process will work. Keep in mind that this is a free critique. It is not in any way an edit, nor will I re-write the query. It’s free author advice, and I’m glad to help. This offer is no longer available.

Some start up advice, no it doesn’t involve a crank.

seo

Hi and such!
In my last post I said that I’d write a little ditty about some blog design tips (WordPress only). If you have a different host I don’t know what to tell you…come to WordPress, we have cookies. I mean I don’t but someone somewhere does.
I digress.
When I started my site/blog a year and a half ago, I had zero knowledge of how to get one up and running and even less know how on designing it to look as if I’d paid a techy pants to do it. Now I’m not saying that my site rivals those that excel in the site design industry (cause that would be crazy) but as sites go, mine ain’t too shabby.
I chose WP because, well another author used it and I totally dug their site. I did a little research and learned that WP was user friendly, meaning that I wouldn’t have to learn lots o’ HTML code to get snazzy features such as…name some.
But I chose I very basic set up and used the cover of my book as the background, and that was fine at first. But after a few months, I began to hear the “ughs” from internet visitors on my site. Since launching my site, I’ve viewed thousands of other author sites, some worse than mine, many better. And that just wasn’t cutting it for me. So I took some time and Goggled SEO plug-ins and how to install them on my site. That’s when I learned that WordPress does most of the coding crap for us! WOW!
Phew, glad that’s out of the way.
But I still didn’t like that my site was just a giant cover of my book, self promotion is great and all, but I even got tired of looking at it. I wanted people to see my brand, not just that book I wrote. When you go to a website, you don’t want one thing shoved down your eyeholes (at least I don’t) so I worked with a lovely chic at IceyDesigns who created my brand logo, that awesome Frankie Ash Author of Sci-Fi and Fantasy pic to your right! Yeah it’s bad-ass!
So, I looked back at some WordPress themes, tried a few out and found one that I love. I still had to snatch some HTML code for the social media buttons but I learned how to do that from WP too!
WordPress has tons of awesome content and customization features and that’s why I love it here. Of course there is tons more about site design and how WP can help you achieve a great design that suits your needs, but you have to invest the time in researching and reading and learning and reading and learning…or you could just pay someone to do it.

Writing Like Mad

It’s day three of NaNoWriMo and I am already wondering if I’m insane for trying to write 50K in thirty days while I’m also in the process of finishing the Eramane trilogy.  What I have noticed though is that writing a different story has done something to my brain (not like what a zombie would do to it). It’s more like a creative catharsis. I have been working on Eramane for over a decade and writing Stock Generation for the NaNo challenge has been…revelatory. I have discovered that I am not limited and that as long as I can…I will always write. I encourage anyone to keep on keepin’ on. Write until your head slams down on the keyboard. Sometimes you are surprised at what your fingers have typed while on auto pilot. But most times you have to hold down that damned ego-crushing, most likely butt-saving delete button…for like, a long time! Happy writing!