Sunday, May 1, 2011

Cutting the Good Stuff?

The moment I opened my eyes the other morning, I knew … I knew beyond any doubt that I should not only cut the prologue of this book I’m wrestling with, but do away with the grandma scene too—an entire chapter! The dialogue between grandma and heroine/granddaughter is nothing less of an info dump. Info that I deem vital to the story, but looking at it through your eyes, NOT!

I should be happy with this breakthrough (it isn't unlike throwing away a drawer full of valuable newspaper articles from the 60s) but I’m not. I like the book the way I wrote it originally, with my prologue, my info dumps, my meandering through each chapter telling and showing what I want when I want. To heck with what the reader wants ‘cause I’m running this show! Yeah, right.

Actually, I’ve reached the point where I have a difficult time even recognizing an info dump. If it reads smoothly, doesn’t interrupt the flow, doesn’t yank me out of the action, makes sense, then I’m okay with it. Of course, if it stops the action completely, reads like a history lesson or a genealogy—well that’s just ridiculous.

I got back a contest entry the other day. My scores were interesting. Perfect 50, a 48 and a 37. The 37 seemed lost as a goose, couldn’t follow the leap  from prologue teens to  adult years. The others had no problem and liked the prologue, said it was a great place to start but the first chapter was too, if I decide to cut prologue. 

So here’s my question: everything is so darned subjective, how do you know what’s right, what’s wrong, what works, what doesn’t?  I know most of you will say for me to go with my gut, do what feels right, tell the story I want to tell. Well, heck—that’s no help! How do you decide when it’s really time to put your book out there--self-pub, submit to an agent or editor, let it go? And what do you do months later when you realize you made the wrong decision?


Charles Gramlich said...

those are the truly hard questions, the ones that make you pull your hair out. I don't know. I only know some things feel right and others don't. but I'm not convinced that's anywhere close to any kind of objective judgement.

Carole said...

I agree with Charles that the questions are hard. Different strokes for different folks. Which is why writing is such a hard business.

I love reading books with prologues. They make feel a sense of knowing a secret that perhaps the protagonist doesn't know. I feel like an insider.

Now they are not in vogue. Stupid. A good prologue is why I purchase a book or don't. So basically I think you just have to do what you can live with. Trust your own instincts.

Erin Kelly said...

I like to go with the advice of agent Mary Kole: If you're not sure, then it's not ready.

I also agree with Carole. Gotta go with your instinct ... then have others read your MS to make sure your instinct was right! : )

Laurie Kolp said...

It's nice to know other writers worry about the same thing. Trust your gut and have faith. You'll never know if you don't try.