So the first version of the White Whale, which I wrote about five years ago, had a massive prologue. We’re talking a ten-page info-dump. (It was my first book, I didn’t know any better.) And I’m not saying it was bad (okay, it was), but it was no way to start a novel. Yay, page one! Let’s read a bunch of filler information!
Now as I’ve written a bit more, I’ve learned to extract prologues and to spread that information out slowly throughout the first chapters. The AMOR series doesn’t have prologues, my WIP, ANASTASIA, doesn’t have a prologue. But here’s the kicker, the White Whale still does.
You notice how I contradicted myself there?
But I have a reason. I like prologues when they’re short, one page, when they’re italicized (okay, so I’m specific?), and when they’re setting a mood or theme. Not when they’re giving background information.
Think of the prologue to TWILIGHT. It told you that Bella’s life was going to be in danger soon, that she would be willing to sacrifice her life for someone else’s, and that there was some major action ahead. That’s a lot to convey in a couple of paragraphs, but that’s why it worked.
Now, don’t worry, I’m not biting off of Stephenie Meyer with my White Whale prologue. (I guarantee my 13-year-old cheerleaders will not turn into vampires. Though that might be one of the only vampire concepts not yet on the market. Copyright 2010.)
I’m using my prologue to prepare readers for the unusual structure of the book (which is actually titled FOUR DAYS LEFT OF NORMAL). You see I chopped up my old manuscript, deleted half of it, replaced it with new scenes in a new timeline, and then mixed them all together. Confused yet? Really, it’s not as weird as it sounds.
This book is told from four different girls’ points of view, with one of the characters, Deirdre, getting to tell her story from the first person. (The others are in third person.) And I wanted to show how differently each of these girls perceive the events in their lives. So by having two different timelines—Deirdre before “the incident” happens, and the others girls after “the incident”—you can really see how unique their thinking is toward that event (which doesn’t occur until the middle of the book).
But because the story isn’t told in a traditional, linear fashion, I thought it needed a bit of a lead in. So here’s what I came up with for the prologue to FOUR DAYS LEFT OF NORMAL:
I didn’t realize while I was living it, but I only had four days left. Not to live. I would unfortunately keep breathing. I just wouldn’t have much of a life anymore.
I was alone, but in a way that can only be felt in a crowded room when no one will speak to you. It can make you second-guess whether you’re even there. Surely, no one would notice if you left. Or if they did, it would only be because they’d lost the person they were sneaking glances at, whispering about. Because people were definitely talking about me, they just weren’t talking to me. That was too dangerous.
To think, just four days ago, I was going about my life as if everything were normal. I had no idea that the countdown had already begun…
Then you go into the first chapter. And I will tell you that I managed to sneak the words “bull semen” into the opening sentences. No joke. Hopefully you’ll all get to read it soon to find out what I mean.
POP CULTURE RANT: MTV Movie Awards
Somehow I completely missed all the announcements that these awards were happening, which only proves how old I’ve gotten that my choice of television programming no longer includes commercials for MTV. But thanks to The Soup, I quickly realized my mistake and rushed to On Demand to watch New Moon win everything. Honestly, I think those kids would have found a way to vote New Moon as best cartoon if the category existed. And here’s the thing, I completely disagree the awards. Best kiss? Really? Bella and Edward were apart for half the movie. Best Actor to RPattz? Okay, I’m going to just say it—I think Robert Pattinson is more appealing giving interviews than he is playing Edward. He’s an over-actor two steps shy of Jim Carrey in The Mask, and his American accent needs work. And now that I’ve been getting into Vampire Diaries, I’ve been wondering why the CW attracted more talent (Boone from Lost is amazing!) than the silver screen. Go Team Damon!