1. Albirich
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    Albirich Active Member

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    How best to create prophecies connected to the story?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Albirich, Nov 4, 2013.

    I am horrible with this part, I want to create a number of prophecies. I want them to be vague and smooth (don't want to curl your tongue on it) here's my questions:

    I suck at writing them ( any tips how to do it ? )

    Not all are likely to happen in the same book as they appear, ( Is this good or bad? )

    Have you ever created a prophesy connected to a later book? How would you do it? One is usually not 2-3 books forward in their head when they are still writing the first one.

    I don't want the kind of prophesy like Harry Potter and Voldemort's, for example. I want them to be interpreted different ways so you can not be so sure what it truly means.
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I'm going to sound like a broken record here, go back and put the prophesies in after you've written them into the story.
     
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  3. Albirich
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    Albirich Active Member

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    Of course, unless it is for another book. But the question was not when to put them in! More how to write them
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    But how to write them becomes apparent when the prophesy has played itself out. As for putting them in to suggest something that will come true in a future story, start with the story you are writing. After you finish one book and begin another, there is still a lot of editing left to do and a chance to put something else in the first book.

    I can only go by what you've written in your posts, I don't know anything else about you or your writing. But what I read between the lines in your posts is a person with ideas that needs stop worrying about them and start writing. Once you get chapters down on paper (or on the screen), then go back and assess what it needs, what's missing, what came across right and what needs changing. You don't need to know that stuff first, it's what comes next, after you've started writing.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There is no "other book." If you aren't already an established author, don't even think of sequels or series.

    If your book sells, then and only then consider a related book. For now, write a stand alone novel, and consider yourself blessed if you get it published. That's plenty to start with.

    Apart from the realities of the market, there are many reasons to stick with a stand alone novel for your first project. These have been discussed in many other threads.

    As for prophecies, they are simply a very literal kind of foreshadowing. In other words, they echo an event in your story which has not het taken place. If you know where you story is going, then the events you can foreshadow should be clear.

    Normally, a writer should write for clarity. Ambiguous writing is the enemy For foreshadowing, however, you want the ambiguity. So think of all the writing you have done that readers misunderstood or found confusing. Revisit your mistakes, and make them strengths.
     
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  6. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Vague is not the same as ambiguous - I'd seriously get that straight before you even try. Vague is bad. Bad writing is vague. Vague means the reader just doesn't have a clue what you're trying to get at and will miss the point altogether.

    Good ambiguous writing should give your reader something to chew on and actually lead them somewhere, imply something strongly enough that the reader suspects something but can never quite be certain if they've got it right.

    This is not that kind of writing that one could advise you on by talking about it. I'd say, fulfil your requirements to post in the workshop, and then post something there for critique. This is the kind of thing that would be more helpful in the form of a direct critique on your work, rather than just talking about it. There's a million ways to write a prophecy and it all depends on your tone and style and just exactly what you wanna say, therefore it's best if you've already had a go at it so we can see what you wanna achieve with it, and steer you in that direction.
     
  7. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Try and write one based on an object, such as a tree. Here's one I'm going to write off the top of my head.

    "The winds hurl, the branches twirl,
    yet still the tree lives on;
    the spring will come, after the winter -
    and the tree will blossom, but soon to be timber."

    It makes little sense as I created it quickly, but you get the idea - the reader will know the words and the sentences, but the prophecy? It could mean anything. It could concern a single person, a city, or even (would you believe it) a real tree! I hope what I said makes sense. :)
     
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  8. Peter J Story
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    Peter J Story New Member

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    As a reader, I hate it when a prophecy is lost in the writer's planning. Due to that, I prefer to keep any prophecies rare and vivid so that they'll stick in readers' minds accordingly.
    I also like to regularly reference them to strengthen their concepts in readers' minds. And finally, the longer I wait to reveal the meaning, the more I reference them. So if you're looking to wait a number of books, then expect your readers to forget the prophecy entirely by that time, and reference accordingly.

    Of course, that doesn't trump Cogito's advice about writing as though you'll only have the one book shot. Most book and film series that we know and love began that same way. A common trick that I've seen for stretching a prophecy's fulfillment out has been to have a minor fulfillment planned for the end of book one that is satisfying enough to stand on its own. Then, when you get that million dollar sequel deal, whip out your major fulfillment and everyone will say, "Wow!" Or they'll boo if you did it poorly like Star Wars' constant "bringing balance to the force" concept.
     
  9. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Maybe read Omen Machine by Terry Goodkind or his first book which holds a prophecy that spans and is answered twice >.>
    Basically, they don't need to be vague necessarily.
    They can seem quite literal at times but it depends on how you look at them.
     
  10. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    You've gotten some good advice, but I think most of it is not answering the question you were trying to ask.

    If the question is how to write an ambiguous prophecy, think about possible outcomes, and then state something that is true for all and not specifying which outcome. Read up on the infallible Oracle of Delphi. Wikipedia has a list of its prophecies such as "If you fight, a great empire will be destroyed" without saying whether the attacker or defender would be destroyed. You can add some vagueness to a prophecy, but it should strongly suggest some interpretations.

    You have the choice of making the prophecies simple declarative sentences, or poetry.
     
  11. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    I was going to suggest that you read some actual religious prophecies. Take a gander at some of the bible prophecies. I believe the book of Daniel will supply sufficiently prophetic language to get you in the prophecy-writing mood.
     
  12. TLK
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    TLK Active Member

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    I see you giving this advice all the time, Cogito and, whilst it's good advice, there's no reason one can't plan for a later book in a series if he or she wishes. They don't need to mention it to potential publishers and nor should it impact the quality of their writing.

    If Albirich did indeed get his book publish and did get the opportunity to write a sequel(s), he'd likely be pretty scuppered without the prophecy he should have written in. Readers will likely be confused about why somebody's doing what they're doing, or whatever, depending on what the prophecy covers.

    If it doesn't get published, it doesn't get published. But if it does, you wouldn't want it to have a negative impact on the quality of the plot of any subsequent novels. A novel should be stand-alone, yes, but there's no reason one can't plan ahead.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I disagree. If you are thinking in terms of a series, you are tempted to leave loose ends to tie into later. For a first novel, you cant afford to be holding back or attempting to balance a complete story against an open arc. New writers face enough challenges as it is.

    Furthermore, you are deceiving yourself if you think your first novel will be stunningly great writing. Hopefully, it will be the worst thing you ever publish. It will not be the anchor you want readers to hunt down to complete the series you eventually write.

    And that's assuming you ever get around to writing and publishing that next book. No publisher wants to assume a new writer will be good for multiple novels; it's a poor risk.

    For that first book, keep your eyes on that prize alone. Save the series thinking for when you have the experience to make it work.
     
  14. Albirich
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    Albirich Active Member

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    No matter how horrible it will be I know it can't fit one book, I even split the story in two and still it will be around 500 pages. If I were to have the story in one novel there'd be a book of over 3.000 pages.

    I understand what you mean though, but this isn't a typical first time book, a lot of thought and research has gone developed me. Ten months ago I was the typical fantasy geek wanting every cliche in the world, now the book is completely different. I still know what you will say, no matter what: I will finish this story, not for the sake of anyone else, but for me. My grammar got a great deal of flaws, but my story is vivid and not like anything else (at least of what I've stumbled upon)
    I'll finish this novel, try out a dozen or two publishers and see what they have to say, evolve and develop if negative, if not I'm a lucky duck. But whatever might be, I will finish this novel and the next and the next after that till I have told my tale. I know not where it will end, but I know a great deal of the journey, and that is not possible to wrap in one, or two, or even three books.
     
  15. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Well, at least you sound sure of yourself :D
    It's hard enough to make something last 500 pages >.>

    I wouldn't worry too much about getting everything right in the draft.
    Just make it up as you go, make it sound as well as you can, then rework it once novel #1 is done.
    Then edit, edit, edit.
    Maybe get someone to read some of it (I know @mammamaia often asks others to send her a page or two for her to critique. It'd give you a good idea of how the rest of your novel sounds by her comments)
    Then query a publisher.
    As soon as you send the novel 1 out, commence number 2 as novel 1 should technically be the best you can possibly make.
    If publisher accepts, yay, first try... lucky.
    If not, rework any advice the publisher might send you, rework the novel either way, and maybe try a different publisher or get some professional help.

    ... Where am I going with this....
     
  16. TLK
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    TLK Active Member

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    I know, I know, don't worry :)

    I'm not saying "don't make your book stand-alone so your others follow on better" or "don't make it as good as it can be and save some good stuff for the sequels", I'm saying to not completely reject the possibility of potential sequels when writing your first book. Chances are, probably, that it won't happen, but if your book gets published and your publisher/agent asks you about any potential sequels, you're going to kick yourself really f'ing hard if you've neglected potential sequels when writing the first book.
     
  17. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Here are some of Delphi's greatest hits. They might inspire.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oracular_statements_from_Delphi

    The very famous one given to Croesus might be a very good model.

    He asked what would happen if he made war on Persia. The response: 'A great empire will fall.' Encouraged, he set about the mighty Persian Empire, but the effort brought about the destruction of his own great (Lydian) empire.
     
  18. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I remember a twilight zone where the MC goes to a prophet who says, "You are going to kill someone." For the rest of the show the MC met tons of people he couldn't kill. It drove him so demented he killed himself.
     

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