I think my Prologue’s like 95% as polished as I can get it right now, at least without feedback anyway, so I’d like some, if anyone has the time and inclination…it’s fourteen ~5x8-inch pages, under six thousand words. All comments welcome, here or there (at the URL below) – but I can’t promise I’d take any specific advice!
You’re a writer, so you can write what you want. Other people’s opinions are just that: opinions.
FWIW, I don’t think the reader needs to be told that the protagonist is a Nazi agent in the first few words. They can pick that up from the text as they follow the clew through the labyrinth of the story.
In the second sentence, the text has “he’d been told”, “he’d been advised”, and “it was warned”. IMO, it isn’t necessary to have three descriptors, and the mix of “he” and “it” (and the tense change) breaks the flow of the text.
Personally, I’d shorten it to something along the lines of:
The third paragraph mixes tenses:
“he’d [he had] no idea”
“he’d [he had] been traveling”
“has got to be”
IMO, for consistency, “had got to be” — though writers don’t have to be consistent if they don’t want to be.
For me, “the past”, “armpit of the world”, and “offensive” are either superfluous or they unnecessarily tell the reader what to think; and the protagonist’s allegiance to Germany isn’t critical so early in the text. Best, I think, to leave the reader guessing who he is and what he thinks. Again, I’d cut…
As you said in your original post, you may not take specific advice. Completely understand. Just offering a few thoughts, in the hope that they might be of some help—even if they serve to reaffirm your own ideas.
the wife has said I’ve been unusually agreeable lately. Suggested I go to the Dr to see if i’ve been replaced by a body snatcher. I suggested that it was simply the result of the soul being crushed out of me by the last snow storm leaving 8" of snow.
But I’m more than happy to be the scapegoat. vic-k needs a break. I nom-inate … guthrie for next week though.
A good guideline I’ve found is: add the detail that the reader needs - but not until the reader needs it. (The thing about Nazis - they’re interesting, in the way I think you’re using them, perhaps very interesting, but the reader will have read the blurb, or whatever promotional material you’ve provided, and so will know something about time, place and plot - in broad generality. In any case, if the reader has chosen to begin reading, he or she won’t necessarily need the Nazi stimulus to keep going. At least for a few pages. But as BK says - just an opinion.)
Shorten sentences — they average 30 words, a lot to grasp.
Cut down on adverbs and passive voice.
Set dialogue in separate paragraphs instead of mixing it with narrative.
Use more dialogue: it creates character and opens the page visually.
Well, I didn’t think a big ol’ text dump would be welcomed, and just posting excerpts seems besides the point (how informative could a paragraph or two or three really be??)…besides, I’ve put the chapter in a neat-o on-page/inline PDF viewer!
Thanks for taking the time…always interesting gauging responses. Or lack thereof, as the case may be.
You’re right about the “direct style of storytelling,” for lack of a better term at the moment. I used to hate that stuff myself, and still look at it askance oftentimes, but genre fiction does seem to revel in such practices. Sure makes writing easier! :mrgreen:
Seriously, I’m of two minds on this…after all, there is what we writers like – and then there is what non-writing readers seem to put up with and even enjoy. For example, while I would agree that Le Carré’s breezy language beautifully scales the lyrical heights, as a reader I’m often left impatiently shaking a knee by its meandering run-on career! Now he’s not exactly “genre” in the trade paperback sense of the word (à la James Rollins, Jack Higgins, or, God help me, Clive Cussler), but I figured that I’d err on the side of literary populism than elitism, so to speak!
Anyway, if you don’t mind (that is, I hope I’m not already coming across as being defensive), I’d like to follow up on some technical points you raised:
Yes, I was afraid of this. My thinking had been that the “three descriptors,” as you’ve described them, would have a kind of ditty-like repetitiveness to them that would “unconsciously suggest” to the reader (that is, almost imbue the reader with) an ill humor that reflects the character’s own growing impatience and his efforts to keep it under control. Is that a bad idea in itself, or is it just that I’ve not implemented the idea properly?
As for the tense change, I had thought to suggest a progression of time there…the two hads suggest a point further back in time than the sole was, which continues into the present, bringing the narrative back into the situation at hand…again, bad idea, or just badly implemented??
Thanks very much again for taking the time to help me think about it. Always good knowing what others feel and how come!
Thanks, PJS…all advice worth bearing in mind as I try to create and fill a niche (which I imagine must exist) that is somehow balanced over the lyrical whimsy of a John Le Carré, the mad plots of a Clive Cussler, and the spartan narrative of a Jack Higgins! :mrgreen:
It started slow. Ponderous even. Many sentences were wordy. The battle scene moved reasonably well.
Not even remotely interested in reading anything or even contemplating a book, chapter, or sentence about Adolf Hitler. I wish you all the best.