Pre-story paragraph

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WilliamMJones
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Pre-story paragraph

Post by WilliamMJones » April 6th, 2011, 3:15 pm

What's the opinion on paragraphs before the actual story begins. I'm thinking about doing it to increase the hook, but I'm not sure if it would be a turn off for agents. It wouldn't be a full blown prologue, just a simple "I am blah blah blah. This is blah blah. This is my story." (Minus the super cliche line.)

WilliamMJones
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Re: Pre-story paragraph

Post by WilliamMJones » April 6th, 2011, 3:33 pm

Actually, I've decided I don't want to do this, because I don't really like them. I can find a better way to hook the reader. But I'll leave the question for discussion.

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Beethovenfan
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Re: Pre-story paragraph

Post by Beethovenfan » April 6th, 2011, 4:00 pm

Not really sure that you need it. If it's just one paragraph, then it shouldn't be too difficult to put that info somewhere in the story. Somehow you could artfully slip the necessary information in without it becoming an "info dump."

Having said that however, Anne McCaffrey, who wrote the Dragon Riders of Pern Trilogy, put in a short prologue - 2-3 paragraphs - where she describes the planetary system of Pern, and why it has an extraordinary problem that occurs once every 100 years or so. The information, while very enhancing to the story and explains a few things, would not really be missed if left out. In other words, if Ms. McCaffrey had not put it in, the story could still stand on its own.
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maybegenius
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Re: Pre-story paragraph

Post by maybegenius » April 6th, 2011, 6:27 pm

I'm not a fan, generally speaking, but as with anything in writing, it can be great if done well. Unfortunately, most paragraphs like those you describe aren't done very well. The only instance I can think of where this actually worked for me is the opening lines of Catcher in the Rye. Personally, I think it's more effective to get to the story and quickly incorporate questions for the reader that they want answered.
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Louise Curtis
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Re: Pre-story paragraph

Post by Louise Curtis » April 8th, 2011, 7:45 pm

There was something similar at the very beginning of John Marsden's "Tomorrow, when the war began" series (same one as the recent film) - but it wasn't distinguished from the main story. Even so, it felt awkward. Again, the book would have been stronger if the first paragraph was cut.
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wordranger
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Re: Pre-story paragraph

Post by wordranger » April 9th, 2011, 9:45 pm

I really think this depends on the story. I just finished doing a beta read where I strongly advised the author to remove one. It just didn't work in his case.

However, there may be cases where it will work. I think you have to step back, look at your writing style, and decide if it works for your particular case. If you are not sure, I would suggest posting it on his blog and letting us take a look at it. We'd also need a feel for what your story is about, and what your style is, so we can decide if it is benefiting you, or if it is just drawing you down.
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