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Nov 14, 2012

Update on #NaNoWriMo: To Prologue or Not to Prologue

I wrote out a possible Chapter One last night. (More on that later.) The chapter does a couple of things I like:

It introduced the main character, showing him (I hope) as resourceful, wry, hardworking, goal-oriented, caring and able to defend himself despite undeserved suffering, obstacles and enemies. 

It shows the world: urban and "real" (a crack house in LA), but also magical (he uses magic to put out a fire) and supernatural (ghosts, angels and demons).

It shows the outer and inner goal by introducing three story problems. What is in the envelope his mother gave him and why does his demon Stepdad want it? Why did his dad leave him...was he really a mass murderer or was he framed? And how can Brandon escape the hell he seems born to?

A couple of things were unfortunately not introduced:

There was no hint of the romance subplot.

There was no evidence of the lighter, brighter dimensions (the fallen crack whore angel doesn't count).

The was no mention of Halloween.

It's not clear from the get-go that the protagonist is a goblin or that he lives in a separate dimension.

Those things wouldn't fit into the chapter as I wrote it, and that's okay (maybe) except for the bit about Halloween. That's kinda critical, and I think it should be waved in the reader's face right away. In case they missed the pumpkin on the cover. Or saw the pumpkin but read the first chapter and wondered, "Hey, where are the pumpkins? There are no pumpkins here at all. I want pumpkins!"

Thus is born the Prologue.

Ok, I know. Some people don't read Prologues. Some people hate Prologues. Some Prologues are lame. Yada yada yada.

Here's my Prologue:

I’m a goblin. These days, we prefer the term ‘ghul.’ Okay, some ghuls do. Personally, I don’t give a shit.

When I was a little boy, I thought I was a human who just happened to sunburn green. I lived on Earth—not the planet, but the dimensional plane of the same name—I know, confusing, right? Just imagine trying to figure that out when you’re five. It was dad, mom and me in a cute Craftsman in a Pasadena-adjacent neighborhood. I was never allowed to go out of the house without a masque, a magical disguise to make me look human. There was only one night of the year that was different: Halloween. On Halloween, I took off my masque to show my real face, green skin and all, and everyone thought it was just a fucking awesome costume.

Then five years ago, when I was eleven, my dad abandoned us and my mom told me that Earth-the-human-dimensional-plane was not our real home. Our kind aren’t even allowed on the human dimension, so my whole life there was just one big prestidigitation. Our real home was Ghulinom—same planet, different dimension. Ghulinom is just like the human world except crappy.

I’ve lived in Ghulinom ever since. But I made a promise to myself: one of these days, I’m going back to the human plane. If only to prove that those happy years were real, not just some shit I made up. If only to prove that I can, before I slink back to the rusty drain where I belong. If only for one year, one month, one week... Even one day would be enough. One special day.

Maybe … President’s Day.

Ha, you know I’m kidding. There’s only one day the veils between the dimensions are thin enough for me to have a shot.


Short and... well, not sweet, but hopefully still cavity-inducing.

I figure this Prologue does several things: It mentions the whole goblin thing right off the bat. Ditto Halloween.

At the same time, it's clear from the vocabulary that this isn't a little kid's book. About half the potential readers will shut the book when they reach the F-bomb, and the other half when they reach "prestidigitation." The happy few band of readers who can handle both will probably enjoy the story....

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I love it! First time I've laughed all day. :D He seems like a fun character.