Thursday, 2 January 2014
A Final Reckoning by Susan Moody
So begins a prologue, though it's not identified as being anything. It's all in italics, which is annoying. The scene that unfolds is disjointed with chaotically inserted bits and pieces of dialogue like:
Don't! Stop! Mum! Please, Mummeee, oh don't! Ouch!...etc
Dialogue continues from various disembodied voices, interspersed with various forms of footsteps. It's effective because it feels like the reader is in a dark room when all this is occurring, creating a sense of confusion, always a necessary ingredient for fear.
Where do you begin a story like this one?
Not like that. This is preamble and is actually a really stupid question. Why is the author asking the reader about a story the reader has no idea about? Of course, I suspect it's a rhetorical question, but what's the purpose of being rhetorical? To introduce a narrator that has no idea how to tell a story, making an excuse up to ramble? If that's the case, I'm ready for closure - next book.
Next line and paragraph:
Do you start with your characters, build up a portrait of them, small accretions added for the reader: who they are, what they do, where they're're going, what they want?
That way, you make them known,...which holds the attention even before you launch into your story.
Um, wrong. Just because a writer shows there is a character in the story does not guarantee the reader's attention is held. I meet lots of real people, who actually bore me - people I insist on avoiding. So it's more likely than not that as soon as I get to know a character and all their cliches, I will be turned off. And whether you like to admit it or not, we all have these misanthropic tendencies towards strangers.
The next paragraph begins:
Or do you begin in medias res, plunging slap, bang into the defining events from which your narrative springs?
More preamble. All of this is to say basically there is a story that will start soon, but remember it is only a story. So thanks for wasting my time with musings on creative writing which reveal nothing.
Only after the first three paragraphs do we get the inkling of a story (things happening to people):
I was nearly thirteen when my sister died.
So the writer decides to begin with neither character portrayal or in medias res, but instead with a huge back story dump. Ah, I hope it felt good writing that out. From this point one realizes that one must shore oneself up for a long bout of back story dumping before a forward narrative presents itself - if at all.
Fortunately, I will never find out.
Verdict: Epic Fail