Dr Niamh On The Plum Tree

Childhood Imagination Sows Seeds of Future Brilliance

Editor’s Corner: By Shawn MacKenzie

Another brilliant, beautifully written Editor’s Corner from Shawn MacKenzie On The Plum Tree! Many thanks Shawn. I find your posts so helpful!

MacKENZIE's Dragon's Nest

A Propensity for Prologues

Scribe smallIn search of inspiration for this week’s Editor’s Corner, I returned to the brackish well of Amazon e-books and discovered a curious trend, particularly among new authors: prologues.

Prologues, prefaces, introductions….in whatever guise, they abound behind the covers of genre tomes and would-be literary masterpieces. The question is: are they really necessary? Or are they simply catchalls for back story we just can’t bring ourselves to leave behind? If you have chosen to begin your novel other than with the first line of Chapter I, ask yourself “Why?”

Now,  I admit I’ve written my share of forwards and introductions, prefaces and preludes over the years. However, as a matter of editorial preference, I find them decidedly annoying in most novels. Nine times out of ten, a prologue serves as a historical exercise, giving background to characters and places, giving hints of what is to come. In…

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About Dr Niamh

When I was a little girl (a very, very long time ago), I used to love learning new, really big words like ‘discombobulate’. As I grew, my love of words grew too, until I loved them so much, I could not stop writing them down. One day, as I was scribbling a particular word, a very peculiar thing happened. The word shouted at me, “Stop! Don’t put me there!” As you can imagine, I was shocked and nearly fell off my chair. When I recovered somewhat, I said to the word, “Could you stop shouting, please? I am not used to it.” Can you guess what happened next? No! I thought not. The word said, “I might be small, but I will misbehave if you do not use me properly. I will not tell the story you would like me to tell. I will say something entirely different!” I dropped my pen. I hoped that by dropping my pen, the word would stop talking. Alas! It did not. It carried on chitterchobbling, even after the ink had dried. I was in a pickle. I could not allow my words to run away with my story, now could I? I don’t know about you, but when this sort of thing happens, there is only one thing left to do if you prefer not to spend your time arguing. “Very well,” said I. “I will do as you ask if you will just be quiet and allow me to concentrate.” Since that day, I have been paying special attention to every word I invite into my stories. After all, a story should say exactly what it means to say and not be led astray. With love from Dr. Niamh, Ph.D in Learning Through The Imagination and Founder of Dr Niamh Children's Books. www.drniamhchildrensbooks.com

3 comments on “Editor’s Corner: By Shawn MacKenzie

  1. Prologues are more interesting than books themselves.

    Like

    • ontheplumtree
      April 30, 2013

      Can be! Shouldn’t be!

      Like

      • the secret keeper
        May 2, 2013

        Agree, Niamh. The only time an introduction should be fascinating is at the beginning of a non-fiction book. It helps to give the potential reader a feeling of what to expect from the contents of the book and subject matter. Otherwise, I go with Shawn on this one, in fiction what you were going to say in a potential prologue/introduction should be labeled Chapter 1 or the info should be incorporated in the story of the book itself. jk

        Like

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This entry was posted on April 30, 2013 by in Special Projects and tagged , , , , , , , .
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