Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Writer's Frustration: Much Ado about Prologues

It goes without saying that breaking into publishing is not an easy thing.
I've had all kinds of difficulties attributing to it and almost always, it's my ego and confidence that takes the biggest hit.

Regarding "Jonas," I must have sent a dozen queries and gotten half those replies back. 
An associate that worked with Stephenie Meyer's agent, he told me that the submission pile is so huge that I'm not likely to get a reply. That's one of the few things I really went through the trouble to make my query letter sound great because I actually knew this person and what her material was and so on.

After that, it's nothing but generic BS:
"not the right fit"
"we do not feel strongly enough about it to move forward"

the most thoughtful reply I got was: "I'm afraid I was just not hooked enough to want to ask for more. "

That at least gave me something to work with.
Naturally, this is not enough time in the day for anyone to give specifics about the rejections, if they bother to formally send them at all. I get that.

But how does one break into this business if you're not told how to improve?

In my inbox today, I got an article from one of my writer's subscriptions and it was on Agent Pet Peeve. Some of it I knew already. 
Agents want to be hooked right away and want to read more to see what happens. They don't want a lot of exposition to start something. They want it to be believable and for us not to fall until clich├ęs.

It's when they attacked one of my go-to methods when I really lost my mind and sanity for a good 5 minutes.

I almost hate to say it, but Jonas's greatest strength IS his prologue, his origin story. I've worked with the first couple chapters, trying to add more to Nina, what she's like before she goes into uncharted waters... a brand new high school.
I meant for her to be a blank canvas that girls who read about her can see a little of themselves in her, so I really didn't give her too much definition. This is going to sound really bad, but I'm wracking my brain to figure out what I have defined about her aside from shoulder-length blonde hair and hazel eyes.

I'd been away from the project for so much. Right now, I just plain exhausted trying to think about it. Makes me want to quit moving forward.

Rejection is a very taxing thing, especially when I'm scrambling trying to revise what I think is leading me wrong. 

I refuse to believe that NO agent will take me simply because I start with a prologue. It's a backstory, an origin story of Jonas and the adversary he was summoned to defeat. That is the best part of my story for quite some time and my hope has always been that people will be so wowed by it that they'll continue forward with Nina, while being curious as to how that story fits into the grand scheme of things.

Sure, my prologue is long enough to be a chapter onto itself, but I really fail to see the sense in that. Chapter 1 taking place EONS ago, and Chapter 2 takes place in the present... the distance between the two points is so vast, how does that work other than having the backstory being in prologue?

Shortly after replying tearfully to that post, I thought about Harry Potter.
To be technical, the first chapter takes place 10 years before the story actually begins, with Harry on the verge of turning 11.
That transition ran fine. So technically, I guess I could turn the prologue into chapter 1... but it sounds much less epic... I hate even considering that idea.

Whenever I'm setting up a romantasy backstory with my characters, I need the prologue.
Orion, who I originally intended to be a distant cousin of Jonas, was reincarnated a number of times before his spirit took on the form it was meant to take. The first few scenes were inspired by the Greek mythology-inspired segment from Fantasia.
Then Orion, after being a faun and a centaur became this human who'd been wheel-chair bound since he was 3, finds his calling as a merman, something that happens completely by accident, but turns out to be the right form for him to take.

Although I find it a little ironic now, looking back, that Zeus made so many mistakes creating him and picking the forms for him to take... he's THE god of Greek Mythology, he doesn't make mistakes... unless of course you take his promiscuity into account... 

Chihiro's backstory is even longer... and I'd been considering toying around with it...
I'd just had very little brainpower to really work on my writing at all. I'd been so busy rereading some of short projects, reliving this and that. 

It's frustrating and even more exhausting... I'm still very exhausted right now and I really don't know why that is... that I want to be a writer, to make a living as a writer, really haven't aspired to anything else aside from getting published, and I'd been stuck in this rut for a very long time. 

At least when it comes to my movie blog, I have some to go back to every week. While I'm still going through this list of my favorites, I still have something going on.

Maybe the thing I'm frustrated with the most right now is I feel like my voice isn't being heard by anyone but the people closest to me. My friends and family know how much I want to pursue this and so on, but my voice is not being heard by anyone that can help me achieve much of anything. 
I'd been semi-active on Twitter, but nobody replies to me on anything, even when I'm paying all kinds of compliments. 
Sometimes I want nothing more to scream to all the people whose attention I'm trying to get:
"Acknowledge me, dammit!!" 

I realize it comes off really rude, I shouldn't be so pushy, etc, but I'm just frustrated right now.

I don't want to hear that agents hate prologues... it's the best storytelling/exposition device I have, and if I can't take that route, I really don't have much else I can do to get anyone's attention.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this, although I feel your pain, you actually made me feel better about my writing and my process.

    Have you ever thought about epublishing? Check out I hear it's a great way to break into publishing. Good luck!