This morning a flood of ideas on my novel disrupted my calm morning, which was very exciting, and I filled out a couple of pages of notes. Yesterday I began writing the first few pages of the book, which was actually a prologue, but I read an article a couple of years ago, written by an editor, that he had never read a prologue that was necessary or that actually helped the book or the reader. He said, rather, that prologues, which get the readers started in a certain flow of thought only to abruptly hurl them into another time frame, would better benefit the flow of the novel as backstory. I was so fond of this backstory/prologue episode that I really wanted it in the book, but it was way too much information to fit into backstory, so I was going to put it in as the first chapters. Then in one of the books I studied on characterization, the author said that if you have the kind of information that is from a different time frame than the rest of the novel and cannot fit comfortably into backstory, it must be put into a prologue. So I was working on a prologue, ignoring what I had read earlier by the editor.
Yesterday I read an article in Writer’s Digest about backstory. The author gave a few tips about how to determine if the backstory is necessary and actually needs to be in the novel or if it would merely stop the flow of the storyline, and then how to decide if it could actually be a mere mention, even if it takes two or three places in the book to fill the reader in on the whole backstory , rather than disrupting the flow of the novel by stopping with a long chunk and filling in some larger bit of a character’s history.
The information in that article made me stop and really think about my approach to this prologue I’ve been writing and I decided that it really should be a separate short story and the episode, which is still important information, only mentioned in the novel. It would make a very nice short story, but the entire episode really isn’t necessary in the novel and would serve to thrust the readers into a separate time frame. IT would also come across to some as a gimmick for a hook to attract reader attention. I’ll already have some disruption in continuity because I have two viewpoint characters on different continents, so I think that would really be enough for readers and editors to deal with.
So this morning I tucked away the notes and what I had written yesterday in a separate file and will work on it later as a short story, maybe when I need a break from the novel. Today I’ll decide on what to do for my opening chapter. I recall having written out several notes on a possible beginning, so I’ll pull those out and start on them. Ben will be going down to Wyoming the first part of December to tend to Melody’s kids for a week, so I have already plotted to play hooky in the studio and write like an obsessed maniac to get as much done that week as I possible can. I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself, but that’s still two weeks away . . .
And I still have to write my column, which is due tomorrow.