1. Mewditto
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    Mewditto Member

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    Starting the first chapter?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Mewditto, Mar 25, 2011.

    I am writing a story about a boy, who becomes suicidal, because of a bad choice he made in life, which was cutting himself. He was tired of being made fun of be people, and his friends try to stop him.
    So far, only one page has been finished, of the prologue, basically describing him before the story starts, as like a kid who likes violence, a little to much.
    But I want to know where to start on the first chapter, like I plan to start with him as the age of 13, where at 14 he becomes suicidal, because of something that was said to him,
    Also, how many words should the prologue be if the entire book is going to be around 70K words?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    For best results, consider a prologue of zero words. More often than not, prologues are entirely disposable.

    As for the starting point for the story, don't worry too much about that. Write the story however makes sense to you. When you have the content all laid out, that's a very good time to decide where to ACTUALLY enter the story. V ery often, you'll have a lot of preliminary stuff that is better off trimmed heavily.

    With more practice, you'll gain an instinct for where to begin a story so you don't have as much pruning to do.
     
  3. FictionAddict
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    FictionAddict Senior Member

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    Why don't you write the scene where he attempts on suicide and then go backwards? I've read about authors who did that: imagined a scene, written them down and then started to think about the background and what happened next.

    For me it's easier to write from the scene that's fresh in my mind, even if that scene isn't in the chronological order I've been writing before. I write it down, then fill the gaps.
     
  4. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    Research. Read the stories of people who have been through this and lived. Understand what they've been through and what came before them attempting to do so. Depressing? Yes but that is your subject matter.

    Reason why I mention research is that it might be hard to just start a story if you don't know how poeple got to this place.

    Hint: People who are afflicted with over-eacting, anorexia, bulimia and cutting often have the same issue at their core; the inability to process emotions in a healthy way. The 'action' taken is a substitute (proxy) for being able to sort out feelings and likely was originally derived from a difficult life/time during childhood etc. The action is a way to manifest emotion the person isn't able to actually work through in a healthy way. Whereas an over-eater may use food as an anastetic to feel better, a cutter or anorexic may be using the punishment to just try to feel something.

    Not to be all psychologisty but if you are going write about this, understand where it comes from. If you're going to write about cutters, know where that kind of thing gets started. You may know someone that does this. Even so, get a more rounded sense of it.

    Why is this important to your start? The beginning would more easily write itself if you know where this kind of thing comes from.

    Side note: Read up on comma splices. I'm not at all trying to be harsh but in reading your post, lots of unneeded commas. If it's just internet typing, ignore this. Otherwise, just a thought. This is coming from a comma splice king.....
     
  5. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's good advice and something I learned the hard way. I had a monster prologue in my first would-be novel, and now it's gone.

    Beyond that I think you need to outline a little more. Have an idea where this story is going, and how to get there.
     
  6. NateSean
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    NateSean Active Member

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    If you're planning to use cutting in your story, there's a bit of mechanics you should understand. Mostly, people cut themselves for two reasons. 1: There's an endorphin rush that comes from it and kids get hooked on that very quickly. 2: Attention. If the kid makes deep visible, verticle cuts along his arm, eventually someone is going to notice and he will be hospitalized. It's the kind of behavior that's guaranteed to eventually get attention.

    Not speaking from personal experience. Though I did use suicidal threats to get attention in school, I have too much of an aversion to pain to deliberately cut myself.
     
  7. Nepthys
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    Nepthys New Member

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    As JeffS65 said
    It's all about the research (Y). Depression is a sensitive matter with a wide range of possible causes from biological to social to cognitive. It's best to know as much as possible. Hell, if you want you could even throw in some Freudian 'perspective.' He said 'depression is anger turned against oneself.' A nice quote, that. It seems a lot of work, but it'll be worth it.
    Perhaps start with the main character recounting the events immediately before he first cut himself. Or, if you're going for a different angle (spite the stereotype, HOO-HAH!), perhaps your character could be popular and doesn't know where the depression is coming from.
    Nepthys
    x
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This.

    I've gone back over many stories I've written and found that I can trim lots from the beginning. I agree with Cogito - prologues are best left out. Readers don't need them, if you fill in a necessary detail or two as you go along.

    I say this a bit reluctantly, because I LOVE writing beginnings, with all the details of the world I've created and all the background of the characters and so on. But when I'm done, I always find that the beginning is where most of the cutting gets done, and sometimes I cut the beginning completely. All that lovely prose, all that beautiful setup is gone, but the story is better for it. It took me a long time to learn that.

    I think it was Kurt Vonnegut who said "Start as close to the end as possible." That's good advice.

    Here's MY advice: Write your damn prologue, then cut it out. You'll be happy writing it, and your reader will be happy not reading it.
     

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