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  1. #1
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    WIP (Sunstone Chronicles for now), Prologue

    Hi all, been a while since I posted. I'm trying to work up some creative energy to continue working on increasing my writing volume since my perfectionism seems to catch up whenever I try and "just write." Anyway, I'd appreciate harsh and/or thorough critique if possible, especially regarding pacing, just to let me know if I'm going in the right direction. Thanks!

    WIP Prologue

    Inviting steam flickered from two mugs of coffee as Will Feras opened the door of the small outpost. He stepped inside and shoved his shoulder into the door to close it. This was his third time ranging with his father, but he still had yet to get used to the cold of the Glacier Range. Will flipped off his scarf and pulled his goggles onto his forehead before tracking snow over to the table and wrapping his cold hands around a mug.

    A man in a bathrobe stepped in and gave Will a warm smile. "Figured you might need something to warm your belly," Will's father James said, sitting down at the table and picking up the second mug before sipping gingerly at its edge. "Anything interesting going on out there?"

    Will poured some cream in his coffee and shrugged. "Not really," he grumbled, "is Garrin up for his time to freeze?"

    James chuckled. "I woke him up before my shower. Almost got my neck snapped. I think he went back to sleep if you want to try again." He gave his son a wink and sipped at his coffee. Will rolled his eyes as he shivered under his heavy wool jacket and pants.

    "Well I'm not going out again until I've downed this," he said as he took a huge gulp of the steaming coffee. He slid his chair back and stood up, wrapping his jacket and scarf tight around as he opened the door to the howling wind outside. "Tell him he has ten minutes and then I'm coming back with a bucket of snowballs." James made a playful salute and went to get dressed.

    Will shut the door and walked down wooden stairs to the lookout landing. The woolen warmth of his scarf kept out the worst of the cold, but the wind found every part of him not fully covered and stung skin that had just finished thawing. He shivered, and paced around the outside of the landing's circle, staring into the various shades of white that served as a landscape around the outpost.

    Then Will noticed that something conspicuously less than white was moving near the edge of his vision. He took out his pair of binoculars, suspecting it was just a wyant lost from its herd. Nothing to worry about, but he trained his binoculars on the object anyway. He frowned. It was a Northbound man, covered in tattered snow gear and carrying a small pack. But there wasn't a Northbound expected for trading for another two days, so unless this lone man was early and light on supplies…

    Will put his binoculars away as he whirled back up the stairs and through the door.

    "Single Northbound sighted, may need assistance," Will told his father quickly as he snatched up the aid pack lying next to the door. James, who was dressed and had been cleaning his rifle, picked up the weapon and started putting his boots on.

    "Injured?"

    "Not sure. He's alone and seems light on trading materials," Will reported. James grunted as he finished putting his boots on, and flung on his coat before stomping toward the steps that led toward the garage. Will followed after putting on his goggles. After a moment, the two men emerged into a small room with a sealed door at the end. James strode over to a low-slung vehicle with treads and skis arranged much like a snowmobile, but the weaponry on its massive front and back marked it for the defensive machine that it was. James swung behind the wheel, and Will sat on his opposite side to punch the button that opened the door as his father started the machine with a low roar. There was a sudden pressure on both their ears as the gate to the outside opened and the frigid air of the Glacier Range swept in. James blasted the vehicle forward and through the gate the second its doors finished swinging to either side.

    James glanced over at Will, who pointed to his right at the dark shape he could barely see without his binoculars. James turned the vehicle in that direction, a spray of white fanning out to his left. As they approached the figure, it collapsed into a small pile with a puff of snow. Will could feel his father's concern through the increasing speed of the craft.

    They arrived next to the Northbound man with a gliding stop and a grumble as the engine wound down. Will jumped out of the vehicle and shuffled through the snow toward the prone figure. He knelt beside the man, who he could now see was stoutly built and had a mane of steel-colored hair that flowed gently despite the biting wind.

    "Sir, are you hurt?" Will gently pulled back on the man's coat and felt for a pulse. There was a very faint rhythm, but it was there. No use waiting for a response though. James knelt beside him, and Will gestured for him to grab the stretcher from the back of their vehicle. He started to position the man to be harmlessly lifted onto the stretcher, and noticed that there was a large bundle of furs strapped to his back in a hastily conceived sort of backpack. Will, curious what sort of cargo would be worth braving the lethal cold to convey, pulled open the top of the bundled furs. He jumped back in shock. There was a sleeping child with white-blond hair, shivering and curled into the older man's back inside the furs.

    "Dad, we need to get them back to the outpost. Now."



  2. #2
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    The piece was easy to read for the most part, John. I do think you could get into the action sooner though.

    Why is this a prologue and not the start of chapter 1?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Chritton View Post
    A man in a bathrobe stepped in and gave Will a warm smile.
    Stepped in what?


    Quote Originally Posted by John Chritton View Post
    "Anything interesting going on out there?"

    Will poured some cream in his coffee and shrugged. "Not really,"
    If nothing is happening, why should I read further?


    Quote Originally Posted by John Chritton View Post
    ...the various shades of white that served as a landscape around the outpost.
    I think you can do a better description than that.


    Quote Originally Posted by John Chritton View Post
    He took out his pair of binoculars, suspecting it was just a wyant lost from its herd. Nothing to worry about, but he trained his binoculars on the object anyway. He frowned. It was a Northbound man, covered in tattered snow gear and carrying a small pack. But there wasn't a Northbound expected for trading for another two days, so unless this lone man was early and light on supplies…

    Will put his binoculars away as he whirled back up the stairs and through the door.
    What's a wyant? It made me wonder if this is a fantasy setting.

    Ellipsis indicate that Will's thoughts trailed off, but in the next paragraph he's all action. I would remove the ellipsis and make the end of the sentence more concrete.

    Also, Will takes his binoculars from somewhere and then puts them back somewhere. It's an oddly incomplete detail that's reinforced because it appears twice and because of the contrast with the very specific "he whirled back up the stairs and through the door."


    Quote Originally Posted by John Chritton View Post
    James strode over to a low-slung vehicle with treads and skis arranged much like a snowmobile, but the weaponry on its massive front and back marked it for the defensive machine that it was.
    Clunky.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Chritton View Post
    James swung behind the wheel, and Will sat on his opposite side to punch the button that opened the door as his father started the machine with a low roar.
    Also clunky, confusing too.


    Quote Originally Posted by John Chritton View Post
    There was a sudden pressure on both their ears as the gate to the outside opened and the frigid air of the Glacier Range swept in.
    "The gate to the outside opened and the frigid air of the Glacier Range swept in, creating a spike of pressure on their ears."


    Quote Originally Posted by John Chritton View Post
    Will could feel his father's concern through the increasing speed of the craft.
    "Will's father increased the speed of the GIVE-THIS-THING-A-NAME." The reader already knows that the men are concerned.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Chritton View Post
    They glided to a stop next to the Northbound man the engine grumbling at it wound down. Will jumped out of the vehicle and knelt beside the man, who he could now see was stoutly built and had a mane of steel-colored hair that flowed gently despite the biting wind.
    "...flowing gently despite the biting wind." is confusing.

  3. #3
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    Thanks Nathan, this is exactly what I was looking for. First, I did want to clarify that this is a Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel (I guess I don't know EXACTLY when it crosses the border into fantasy), and this is a prologue because it involves the first meeting of the two main characters (Will and the Northbound) and there is a "time jump" after this to present-day (too cliche or not? It seems like everything gets called cliche, so I don't know how unique you really have to get). As for the "wyant" and the "mystery machine," those descriptions are basically tools for my brain to get through my first draft so that I can develop something more complex later. I'm not sure if that's a bad idea, but it seems to be the only way for me to get past my perfectionism

    Otherwise I'll look into editing the parts you mentioned. I'd love to hear more feedback from other perspectives as well, thank you!

  4. #4
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    Unless there is a big, BIG reason (like an amazing plot twist that needs a sprinkling of clue at the novel's beginning) to have this prologue, I would turf it. Readers hate prologues, as general rule.

    Keep plugging away.

  5. #5
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    No, they don't. There is a small cabal of writers here that hate them and are doing everything they can to make the rest of us agree with them. Don't let them fool you: in the Real World, prologues are alive and well.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Zeff View Post
    No, they don't. There is a small cabal of writers here that hate them and are doing everything they can to make the rest of us agree with them. Don't let them fool you: in the Real World, prologues are alive and well.
    Agree.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Zeff View Post
    ...in the Real World, prologues are alive and well.
    And adding nothing of value to the stories they precede. Here's the logic of a prologue:

    "Hi, reader, I'm a prologue. I'm going to make you read through me before you get to the actual story. I might even have characters that aren't present in the actual story. I'll probably be set in a different time to the actual story. All you have to do is become emotionally attached to these characters and settings, at which point I will end, and you'll have to become attached to new characters in a new setting in the actual story. But don't worry, I'll repay you for your effort by telling you all about some trivial plot point that you didn't need to know anyway because some readers will skip me, so I can't actually be important to the plot. If you're lucky, I might reveal some insight about a plot twist that happens near the end of the book. It's a shame I'm right at the beginning, and you'll have forgotten everything I told you by then.

    One day I'll introduce you to my sister, the epilogue. No one likes her as much, and I can't understand why..."


    Yep, it's all a big secret society.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nathan N. View Post
    And adding nothing of value to the stories they precede. Here's the logic of a prologue:
    That's such sweeping generalization bull****.

  9. #9
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    Nice work ignoring the rest of what I wrote that explains why, Gary. Feel free to rebut it with something other than "I work in publishing."

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nathan N. View Post
    Nice work ignoring the rest of what I wrote that explains why, Gary. Feel free to rebut it with something other than "I work in publishing."
    OK, I read actual books. Some of which have well-done prologues.

    Most the time when a sweeping generalization is dropped, it's from someone who is off in prejudicial la la land somewhere.

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