Cup of Dcaf: On the Subject of Prologues

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I must admit to some discontent with myself even as I write this. I’m a fan of a well-executed prologue, especially in a fantasy novel, and indeed there is a prologue in All Flames Cast (and will be one in Of Genesis). Yet I’m about to argue in opposition of prologues, for some reason.

Actually, for good reason. You see, prologues are generally unnecessary.

Oh, most authors will argue heartily that their prologue absolutely HAS to be in there. “It sets up so much!” they maintain. Or, “There’s tons of background there!” Possibly even, “It’s where the plot gets set up!” Continue reading

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Cup of Dcaf: Getting Close to Your Characters

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“Write what you know”, right? It’s one of the most common writing tips, something that writers of all ages have no doubt heard many times. It’s pretty sound advice on the surface. After all, it’s tough to write about, say, a location in Italy if you’ve never been there or studied it. Trying to do something along those lines is begging for the writing to feel flat.

On the other hand, we need to write about things we don’t know—namely, characters. I’ve found that it’s very common for inexperienced (often young) writers to write characters who are very similar to them. It’s easy to do, because you know yourself better than you know anyone else. But that doesn’t make for very interesting stories. Things will get very stale, very quickly when all of your protagonists are the same person.

So the question remains: how do you write a variety of characters? Continue reading

Cup of Dcaf: Short Fiction and Scenes

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After finishing the first draft of All Flames Cast, my mind has become increasingly bent on filling out the world and details of the next book(s) I’m going to tackle. I’ve found myself writing little character sketches, scenes, and short stories to help myself with building a new world for a new book. Over the course of this, I’ve gotten a clearer view of the differences between short stories and scenes, which is something I’ve found over the years to be a bit of a blurred line for many writers.

I went through a university degree in Creative Writing, as I know many, many other writers have, and as a result I kind of went through a crucible. There are a lot of pressures on an undergrad writing student—including the pressure to abandon genre fiction because of the flawed idea that it’s inherently inferior to lit fic—and one of those pressures is to learn how to write short stories. Continue reading

Cup of Dcaf: When the Narrator Makes the Book

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This post is mostly going to be about other books I’ve read, moreso than anything I’ve written, because it deals with first-person perspectives. While third-person narrators can absolutely make an impact on the way a story is read (looking at you, A Song of Ice and Fire), some of my favorite stories are first-person novels. By and large, the reason for this is the way the first-person viewpoint structures and colors the story. Continue reading

Cup of Dcaf: Juggling Viewpoint Characters

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As I undertake my Wheel of Time Reread, the topic of viewpoint characters has been on my mind. In The Eye of the World, there are only a few POV characters: Rand has by far most of the book, with a few chapters from Perrin and a few from Nynaeve. It’s a rather startling contrast to…well, to the whole rest of the series, which sees an astounding 2700+ named characters, with hundreds of them getting viewpoints at one place or another.

And that brings me to my own experiences with the phenomenon. Continue reading