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  1. #11
    Anthony Ravenscroft


    I'm having a crummy week, & now I can't remember the distinction between a forward & a preface & and introduction. Can anyone help out here?

    Anyway, a novel -- as in a story meant primarily as fiction (even if based in real life or a roman a clef) -- should avoid having forematter. I'm not even a big fan of prologues, though many love them, because it slows the reader from getting hooked into the central story, which is (IMO) just bad selling.

    To stall before going in tends to show a potentially crippling lack of confidence on the writer's part, & while an editor can readily chop such appendages off, I feel it's a crutch that keeps the rest of the book from having been written as strongly as it could have been.

    Of the first-time writers I review, the books that launch off with a whole lot of "before I can tell the story, here's what you need to know" stuff never really get off the ground. The few I've read complete (fiction & non) never seem to clearly get to the point, as though the writer's afraid that, once the gimmick is revealed, the rest becomes pointless.

  2. #12
    john palmer

    Re: sidebar:

    It strikes me as wordy

    …that’s when I visited with a lawyer to both write my will and file for divorce on the very same day.

    Like the word "both".

    I'm going to square bracket the stuff I think you don't need in the next one:

    [Like millions of women, I was the victim of domestic abuse but that is where my story stops being like everyone else’s.] My husband only ever hit me once. He [His preferred [method for asserting his control and dominance over me ranged from emotional tortures and physical ‘tests’ such as] seeing how long I could hold still while he held lit cigarettes to my flesh or carving his initials on my body.

    I think that has a lot more punch, and in the words of the flogometer guy, I would definitely turn the page, or in this case read the next paragraph.

    I realise that this is an introduction or forward or whatever, and I'm verging on suggestions that turn it into the first page of a story, but it's still wordy.

    [i]Always these ‘tests’ were performed when he had an audience. He loved to show how much control he had over me. That was David, my high school sweetheart. Where had that loving teenager gone? Was he still inside that raging mind somewhere? Lord knows I’ve looked but came up empty.<i/>

    To me those first two sentences would be stronger if it were boiled down to something like, "He loved an audience." I think it's stronger if you don't spell it out. It's implicit, anyway. The rest of the paragraph is stronger because it's more emotional, which draws the reader in, rather than the analysis which was distancing.

    And your story is about emotion.

    When I stop to think about what you went through, it turns my stomach a little, and I want to read further to see just how the hell go got out of it -- it's hard not to care about someone who is getting abused like that, but the analytical stuff has the opposite effect, and feels too much like a pamhlet on domestic abuse.

    Now I was looking to make my dangerous leap into freedom. I knew it would mean a start of a new chapter in my children’s lives but was more than a little convinced it would be the end of my own. Still, there were no other options to grasp. If I am to be killed for this, I owed it to my children to be certain of who would be raising them in my place.

    "Was" and the wordiness here sap the power. And the emotions are so strong! Get more direct and let them come out unfettered.

    “Dear Heavenly Father, please look out for my children and if you have the time I could use your help as well.”

    That I like. It's especially powerful because it emphaizes the love for your children, and it increases the reader's sympathy for you as the MC in that it is incredibly involving to see someone in fear for her life who is still putting someone else ahead of herself.

    You have some powerful stuff here.

    Let it out.

  3. #13
    john palmer

    Re: sidebar:

    God, I keep screwing up the italics, today. If this isn't clear, I'll repost and fix it.


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