Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New Beginning 662 (prologue)

The echoing roar in the chamber died down soon after the final matter of the day was judged. The Mytholos Council ruled that King Lamansa must remove magic from all of the Faeries for eternity. The world had indeed become a place of chaos, and the council was taking proper steps to protect all the master creatures of earth and keep them separate from each other. The King knew the grand conclusion they arrived at was best for all, human and mythos alike, but they would not win this smaller matter as well, he refused. They were insane to think he would give up the power of his race so freely.

He vanished from the chamber to escape the murmurs and glances of the other members, then reappeared, hovering over the Flowerling Fields near his tree. There were no fond goodbyes to say to the council anyway. The petals of the flowers that bathed in the dawn were just beginning to open. He looked down and saw a new Faerie, eyes closed, laying in the shadowy bowl of a black Tulip. What would become of this helpless creature if it had no power to protect itself? He knew in that moment what he would do. He scooped up the newborn and flew away from the field to search out the humans. He would hide the magic where it could never be found.

He slipped into the first house he saw through the partially open window and waited. He knew what he was looking for and he also knew it would take some time to discover that special place in the world of men. The family came and went, acting out family drama with irritating commonality, but the king would not give up. Finally, on the third day of his vigil, the one they called 'Ma' went to the kitchen, yanked open an overstuffed drawer, and desperately ruffled through it, yelling, "I swear I put it in here!"

The faerie king flitted in and placed the enchanted sleeping baby in a thimble.
He smiled with satisfaction, knowing that magic would be safe forever, for nothing was ever found in that black hole of every human household: the junk drawer.

Opening: Aimee.....Continuation: Vivian Whetham


Evil Editor said...

P1: "he refused" Change that to "he vowed," or make it its own sentence.

P2: lying, not laying.

One guy is charged with removing magic from all faeries for eternity? How many faeries are there? Isn't magic something they're born with? If so, it would be more like removing intuition from a person than removing a computer chip from a robot. Of course anything's possible in a world where you make up the rules, but a sentence or two explaining how the king is supposed to pull this off might help. If he can cast a magic spell that removes everyone's magic, can't the faeries cast a magic spell that prevents him from doing this to them?

Adam Heine said...

I know I haven't read your story, but I bet you don't need the prologue.

Just start 11 years later when the newborn's magic first manifests and causes all sorts of problems in the human world. The king can show up later and explain everything then.

The thing about prologues is if your regular beginning is exciting enough, you usually don't need a prologue. And if it isn't exciting enough, then a prologue won't fix it. It's a bandaid at best.

Matt said...

I'll admit that I skip long prologues (I'll only read them right off the bat if they're short)--Although, I do go back and read the long ones if the story hooks me in the later chapters.

Anyway, although this doesn't grip me (I never read a prologue that did), I can see the premise of an interesting story.

Given the situation in the opening, I think you could write it to be more exciting. When I read it, I felt like someone in the crowd watching the proceedings--I didn't feel like I was experiencing it with Lamansa.

writtenwyrdd said...

This is a rather heavy-handed bit, and, if it's a prolog, might be better off as a short chapter or removed. You can only throw so much new information at a reader in a short space, and this opening is (IMO) trying too hard. With fantasy or sf, where the worlds are not the 'real world' you cannot dump all that new information on people off the bat, they have to assimilate it a bit at a time.

Might be interesting when extended, or might be better snipped. You can try it both ways and see. I happen to be on the side in favor of prologues for complex fantasy worlds. I read them, always. And I decide whether or not to pick up a book after I read the prolog, too, not just the first page of chapter one.
So you might consider whether the prolog is worthless or confusing.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a summary of the prequel. Maybe you're starting too late.

Dave Fragments said...

I despise prologues and "chapter quotes" and introductory poetry and all that stuff. I think it gets pretentious and most pretension falls flat. If it is important to the story, then it should be part of the story. Invariably, I never read even the one line stuff that authors put at the beginning of chapters.

Now that's just me. I can't speak for anyone else. I won't let that opinion color my comments on this opening.

These two paragraphs relate a stormy council meeting and a King who doesn't wholeheartedly support the council's decision. So he sneaks away. Now that sneaking away is puzzling because we don;t know his reason. It's not explained. He's just a disgruntled king wanting to spend some time with the flowers.

I've been involved in unpleasant decisions where I've lost the discussion. I never had the opportunity to step outside and commune with nature. Nor were the decisions as momentous as taking away magical powers. The king has no motivation to leave the chamber and visit the flowers, unless he's a petulant child by nature.

Do you see the problem you created? The King has made a rash decision and quite by chance, he comes upon a newborn fairie born in a black tulip at dawn. So he decides to save this faerie from faerie parents and takes it to the humans. Really? How are fairies children raised? Do they get fairie parents? Do they all spring from flowers at dawn and then wait for someone to find them and raise them?
How about that King --- is he equally as impulsive in the rest of the story. Equally as petulant? Does he hide this secret child from everyone?

If this prologue is going to work, then the King should know of the newborn before the decision and this newborn should be either the last faerie born, a once in a lifetime birth, or in some other way unique.

Also, if the King is the only one who can take away the magical powers, why can't he return the powers? Magic can't be illogical. And will the King be without magic (kinda like a Eunuch King...).

Also, are the magical faerie powers that fragile that they depend on a King? Is the Faerie Community that easily beaten down and that passive? This prologue sounds like the Mytholos Council has found some bad deed (or expedient excuse) that the faeries are responsible for an act that that condemns them to live without powers for ALL Eternity. That's a long time. Why an eternity?
Or will the Council keep their magic?

Think through those questions and revise the prologue if you still want it.

Anonymous said...

This prologue did not grip me, but it may be personal preference because I don't like fairies. I don't know why but they irritate me.

Larry Cottington's Fairy album is the only fairy book I liked. The idea of smashing the little ones in a book like flowers - I found amusing, along with her repressed sexuality. I also don't like the idea of fairies being "good" my understanding is they were mischievious fantasy monsters like gremlins orginally. I want to read about little monsters terrorizing little children, not misunderstod, sentient dragonflies.

Saying that, I'm like Writtenwyrd and always read the prologue and if it interests me I will buy the book. However, I do not like long, involved prologues, three pages max. I once read a book whose prologue was as long as chapters and I had to keep referencing it to understand what was going on in the novel - that was annoying.

Also, this beginning struck me as a middle grade level or children's book because the plot seemed simplistic due to the problems EE noted.


Anonymous said...

And simplistic for the problems David just noted and spelled out perfectly.

Simplistic plots with simplistic motivations - fine for a children's novel (in my opinion) and even for middle grade, but not for young adult or adult.

Here is the part that made no sense to me: "The King knew the grand conclusion they arrived at was best for all, human and mythos alike, but they would not win this smaller matter as well, he refused."

How is stripping magic from a magical creature a "smaller matter" that seems pretty big deal to me - because really what are fairies without magic? Sentient fireflies.

so you seem to be saying that the king can strip the magic from the fairies and give it to the newborn and then he hides it amongst the humans when he fully understands doing so will continue the chaos, which he is not in favor of - that is why I consider it a simplistic plot, because if one fully analyzes what you are writing - it gets too complicated and too illogical to make any sense.

But I don't like fairies - so I'm okay with taking away their magic.


Eric P. said...

This opening makes perfect sense if the Faeries are malevolent beings whose magic has caused much or all of the chaos on earth. Especially in Celtic folklore, the "good folk" can be pretty dreadful when they want to be. (Such beliefs are very much alive even in present-day Ireland-- see Meeting the Other Crowd by Eddie Lenihan.)

If that's the case, the part that doesn't fit is the saccharine Ann Geddes-esque picture of the helpless innocent infant lying asleep in a flower. (However, it is a shadowy black tulip, which helps.) Tiny cutesy flower-fairies are a 17th-century literary invention (mostly from Les Contees des Fees) that have little to no grounds in actual faerie folklore.

Of course, I could simply be spectacularly wrong about the story you wanted to write, but it was worth a shot, wasn't it?

_*rachel*_ said...

Some strange capitalization in there--the Tulip, for example.

I don't like the "The king knew... he refused." sentence. At the least, take off the "he refused" because it's implied.

Is this a children's story? I personally would put it down because the sentence structure, grammar, etc. feel too young for my reading level. If your audience is pre/early teen or so, fine. If it's YA or adult, I've got a problem with it.

What's with the Flowerling? I'd say Flowering.

Same with the others; prologues just might not be worth it.

Nice continuation, Aimee.

Wes said...

I'm in the camp that believes most prologues aren't needed. Yours might be, but give it some thought.

Mame said...

Excellent feedback, very much appreciated. Like most things, I take what works from it. You guys raised some great questions and that's a really big help.

Thank you.

Chelsea Pitcher said...

I am guessing the main part of the book concerns the Faerie child growing up in the human world, and that is why the prologue is, well, a prologue. Because it is separate from the rest of the story, but also explains it.

However, I still found myself wanting the prologue to be a scene rather than a summary of events. I'd love to see the Council in action and hear the conversations that lead to their decision.

Mame said...

I'll just step back in and say a few things. It is middle grade, so over the top, deep detail isn't required and would detract from the pace and ease. But a big thanks (again) to those of you that pointed out the in-depth problem points. Your questions really made me think about the motivations and actions, and how I need to change it up a bit.

It is totally separate from the rest of the story. The first chapter begins 500 years later, and the King is dead. There is really no other opportunity to showcase this decision and more specifically his motivation for doing it (which, in hindsight, I didn't do). I thought a short prologue would help with that. I need to reword it and give it some punch.


I still say this is the best advice and feedback I've received yet. I needed it.

Thanks, EE. Great gig you have here.

Adam Heine said...

"I despise prologues and "chapter quotes" and introductory poetry and all that stuff.... If it is important to the story, then it should be part of the story."

That's interesting, Dave. I always considered prologues, chapter quotes, etc. to be part of the story already. Not always a good part of the story, but still...

Anonymous said...

Aimee - I agree my writing vastly improved with honest and fair critiques.

I have one word of advice that was not mention. One reason your introduction did not jump out out at me and say "I am a children's book for middle grade young readers" was your choice of words.

One thing I think would be very difficult with writing a children's story or middle grade story - actually two things - the first would be the words you use and the manner you put them together has to be at their reading level. I am looking through your introduction and I am not a teacher but I think some of the words would be too tough. I don't know how you would do it so hopefully some other minions will weigh in but you have to have a middle grade vocabulary list to check words by and then I think you have to simply sentence structure as well.

Second is the length - I am not sure how long a middle grade novel has to be but judging by the ones laying around my house - maybe half the length of an adult novel. You'll have to check on that as well.

I wish I had my nephew here so I coud have him read the introduction - but I am guessing its way over his head.

Joanna said...

I think there's something to be said for writing with complex language for children. I learned a l;ot of new words, and a lot about how to put them together, by reading books that were 'too old for me'. And there was a time when children's stories were written with richer language; Beatrix Potter's and Hans Christian Andersen's original tales are delightfully written and use words that might not be on a children's vocab list now. At that time maybe children were better-spoken..

I'd have read on from this prologue when I was a kid, and I would now. Especially if the king's reason for thinking that the overall decision was right but his race should be exempted is explained soon.

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

* * *

Monday, June 1, was Sally Fiskel's first day of work. The DMV didn't allow the interns up front where the customers were, so she was given tasks to do in the back office. In between photo-copying forms and refilling the laminating machines, she browsed the long bookshelf at the back of the room. in the hope of learning something new, Sally reached up and pulled out a big, dusty volume.

"What on Earth is that?" she thought, noticing a small, glowing wooden box that was hidden behind the book: Super Fast Service With a Smile.


And that, children, is the true origin of "Don't ask, don't tell." --khazar-khum

The echoing Roar in the chamber died dlown soon after the final matter of the day was judged. Judge Sandora ruled that King Lamansa must serve 200 years in the state Plenitentiary. The world had indeed become a place of chaos, and the judge was not about to let a Kidnaper loose on the wlorld.


“Seven, eight, nine, ten,” said all of the then twenty one members of the Mythos Counsel in unison. “Ready or not here we come!”

King Lamansa knew it was best for all for the council to find the magic he was hiding, based on the decision the council had arrived at. But he wasn’t fond of the twenty-one to one odds, a measly .0476 percent chance of success. And just as he was thinking that cheers broke out.

“I found it!” said the new Fairy by a Tulip.“Who wants to play again?”