Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Writing Begins #1: The Prologue

The eighth post in my "Writing a Novel Series", which details my experience writing 151  is where the fun begins. Now, I start to write!

Nothing's harder to write than the first few lines of a new novel, especially when those first lines start off the story's thrilling prologue. There's no doubt about it—it's difficult. How to start? How do you grab the attention of the reader from the opening few lines and never let go? This was the conundrum that I wrestled with for the first few weeks of trying to write this novel.

The Flashforward Inspiration
Then it hit me: in order to start the beginning of the story with a bang, I'd start with the ending. Taking a cue from the premise behind Flashforward, I would first write the most exciting scene in the story—the climax—and then put it right in the opening chapter of the novel, where the reader would least expect it. From the opening line, they'd be thrown right into an intense and thrilling situation, with all of the main characters who would make up the bulk of the story present. The trick is, since the reader is thrown into this scene, they don't yet have the details to make complete sense of it yet. It becomes more of a teaser than a spoiler.

Scenes of Tension
Beginnings, especially prologues, need one thing in order to not be boring: tension. The reader has to feel like something is happening, or about to happen, even in the opening pages, if they are to decide to continue reading the rest of the novel. Because of this, I made sure that the scene that would open the prologue of the story was as intense as I could make it. Even though a series of background details were indeed woven in, they were done so in such a tense situation that they added texture, rather than boring details. The tension established in the opening scene would hopefully carry through the rest of the story, and keep things exciting.

From Prologue to "Chapter 1"
As I was writing the prologue, it soon became clear that I wasn't going to be able to fit all of the key scenes that needed to be developed into just one chapter. Thus, I needed several chapters in the prologue, which in and of itself was a bit unconventional. Part 1 of the novel hadn't even begun yet, and I was already several chapters in—did that make sense? Well, for One Fifty One it did. A foundation needed to be laid in the beginning of the story in order to set up everything that would follow. And so, reluctantly, I scrapped the word prologue, and simply titled the opening scene "Chapter 1"...

More to come!