Classic-Castle.com


The source for all your LEGO Castle needs!

What do you think about a "chapter 0" or character intro?

Discussion of Castle Themed stories

What do you think about a "chapter 0" or character intro?

Postby ottoatm » Thu Jul 04, 2013 11:18 am

What do you all think about having a "chapter 0" - or a chapter before your story begins that explains who the main characters are, who the soldiers are, what the countries, politics and religions are?

The reason I ask is because all my stories have them and I was trying to not have one for my newest story but found it impossible, as even I was getting confused! :o I made this today as a result for my comic story and I've made them for the "Black Scroll of Ragnok" and the "Ancient Tombs of Chiron".

I do worry that it gives away some surprise or joy of learning about characters and cultures as you read. I also worry that it limits my ability to change things as I write if I want to (although this hasn't happened yet)!
Knight Templar
n. pl. Knights Templars or Knights Templar
1.A member of an order of knights founded about 1118 to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land during the Second Crusade.

My Lego Stories: The Land of Legelot!
CW-THE Lego Story Writer's Guild
User avatar
ottoatm
Knight Templar
Knight Templar
 
Posts: 3069
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2003 4:52 am
Location: New York

Re: What do you think about a "chapter 0" or character intro

Postby Albatross_Viking » Thu Jul 04, 2013 12:21 pm

I'm a bit on the fence about this. To take The Wayfarer's Tale as an example, the story itself doesn't have an introduction, and people as well as the environment are introduced along the way. However, since more stories in the same fictional world are in the works, I plan on writing up a (probably horrendously large) background compendium explaining things in details.
I agree that, if done wrongly, a "chapter 0" can ruin some of the suspense about the characters' motives and actual intentions. However, it can also make a complex world or setting easier to understand for the readers.

Interestingly, this is one of those points where (Lego-)illustrated stories have a strong point over non-illustrated ones, as an image here and there makes it less complicated to explain the background details as the story progresses.

To me, a prime though non-Lego example of the power of illustrations is The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, where the distinctive drawings made by the later contribute to elaborating on the series' intricate technology and wildlife that would otherwise take up either a large, separate setting introduction (I believe it's been made later, but isn't necessary to understand the books) or long, relatively boring paragraphs within the stories themselves.
Lenfel Militia & Minister of Information Distribution
Image
Image
FlickR
User avatar
Albatross_Viking
Gentleman
 
Posts: 730
Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 9:58 am
Location: Denmark - The Frozen North

Re: What do you think about a "chapter 0" or character intro

Postby Fry_slayer » Thu Jul 04, 2013 5:10 pm

If it is up to me ( I have to say I am keenly aware while saying this by no means I feel like the center of the universe :mrgreen: ) it one wishes to write an epic story, it would be wiser to get the audience to care about the characters first before bringing the whole history book on them. In this age of information explosion if you bring out the whole set up details before people even care about the story it would more likely to scare them off.

That being said it is always wiser to have a plan, meaning to get the best of both worlds it should (again, solely based on personal opinion :spin: ) be done in such a way you set up a story to get people to care about your characters before revealing the whole lot.

My 2 cents.
User avatar
Fry_slayer
Steward
 
Posts: 539
Joined: Sun Nov 21, 2004 11:52 am
Location: was in Legoland

Re: What do you think about a "chapter 0" or character intro

Postby Bluesecrets » Fri Jul 05, 2013 12:50 am

I am good with a "prologue" if it isn't extensively huge. Give me a little background if it is needed, but if it isn't, just give the details about the characters when they enter the story. Otherwise you run the risk of ruining the surprises of a story or even the storyline. But I'm also not the kind of person who reads the last chapter before I finish a book. I like the twists and turns of the story and that's why I read. But then...that would by my 2 cents on it.
~ Brickshelf~Flickr~

Queen of Tan

Any building, is good building. Build for the fun of it!
Image
User avatar
Bluesecrets
High Priestess of the Vermillion Order
High Priestess of the Vermillion Order
 
Posts: 1969
Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 6:21 pm
Location: On the girls side of the room.

Re: What do you think about a "chapter 0" or character intro

Postby Bruce N H » Fri Jul 05, 2013 3:37 pm

If you think about your favorite books, very rarely do you see some sort of explanation of who all of the characters are and the world in which they are found up front. Usually in plays there is a dramatis personae listing up front, but when the play is actually performed it's not like someone comes out on stage and reads it out before the action begins. I'd say fill in information as the action goes along, often with little asides by the narrator, or perhaps by having some sort of exposition scene. My favorite book, for instance, is the Lord of the Rings, and that's a pretty complex invented world that was new to the readers. Tolkien puts in pretty early (in the Shadow of the Past) a conversation between Gandalf and Frodo, where Gandalf tells Frodo a little about the wider world, and then later at the Council of Elrond you get a pretty long chapter that is all exposition, but that's after a lot of action has already taken place.

Bruce
User avatar
Bruce N H
Precentor of the Scriptorium
Precentor of the Scriptorium
 
Posts: 6644
Joined: Mon Sep 15, 2003 9:11 pm
Location: Middle Zealand

Re: What do you think about a "chapter 0" or character intro

Postby OverLoad » Sat Jul 06, 2013 1:36 am

In the current history I'm writing for my LEGO realm, I don't have a "chapter 0" in the way you mention it, but I do have a brief section that quickly lists the kingdoms, the geography, and the calendar. However, the purpose of my story is to show a background to everything, and I suppose that's a bit different from a tale of a set of characters.

Something that comes to mind is the "prologues" of the books in A Song of Ice and Fire, which are just snippets of life in the realm of Westeros or Essos that give an idea of what the story to come is going to be like. I find that throwing a reader into a story and letting them pick it up along the way is easier than the characters all up front (ala a play) but to each his or her own. If there are a lot of characters in a story in which the reader could get easily confused, then I suppose a "chapter 0" could work in your benefit.
User avatar
OverLoad
Steward
 
Posts: 579
Joined: Fri Apr 30, 2010 12:34 am
Location: Windfall Island

Re: What do you think about a "chapter 0" or character intro

Postby ottoatm » Mon Jul 08, 2013 2:49 pm

These are awesome responses guys and gals - I appreciate it very much!

After reading through them and thinking about it the last few days your opinions have indeed convinced me that a Chapter 0 is better left either minimal if it exists at all.

I think I'll use it to show the map of the story from now on.... maybe some basic background on the religion/political structure if applicable...and then I'll leave it at that.

During the story it IS indeed a very good place to take time and either show or explain the characters.

I do agree that this is a much more natural way to let the story flow while at the same time setting the background/setting.
Knight Templar
n. pl. Knights Templars or Knights Templar
1.A member of an order of knights founded about 1118 to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land during the Second Crusade.

My Lego Stories: The Land of Legelot!
CW-THE Lego Story Writer's Guild
User avatar
ottoatm
Knight Templar
Knight Templar
 
Posts: 3069
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2003 4:52 am
Location: New York

Re: What do you think about a "chapter 0" or character intro

Postby Formendacil » Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:10 pm

I think there are two different kinds of prologues: story-prologues and world-prologues (with, of course, prologues that exist somewhere in the middle, but as types I think--particularly in the fantasy world--they can be boiled down to these two).

The story-prologue is told as story (showing more than telling; more exposition, etc) and tends to be set further in the past than the main story--possibly something tangential to the immediate action of the main story, but hugely important for where the main story is going (possibly post first-book). A world-prologue is more like the Prologue to The Lord of the Rings: really not necessary for the plot at all, but an introduction to the world.

When I was writing my fantasy novel, I initially had a story-prologue masquerading as a world-prologue, but as world-building wasn't really a major focus of the story, the separate prologue ended up being rather redundant, and I folded it over in the later drafts into the main course of the narrative, and it has rather coloured my thinking on them since as generally unnecessary--and even reading the LotR, I don't think I've generally ever started with it; I've started with Chapter 1.

Story-prologues, on the other hand, can be stylistically more useful as a foreshadowing device.

A perfect prologue would balance both varieties: introducing a story as story while also unfolding the world for the reader... but I'm really sure how such a Prologue would differ from Chapter 1. In practice, I think writers (and I include myself) like to use prologues as a crutch to get around a more artful introduction of characters and actions, but I don't know that it need be so.
Because everyone needs another LEGO blog to follow:
Grandfather's Tales
User avatar
Formendacil
Knight Templar
Knight Templar
 
Posts: 4188
Joined: Wed May 05, 2004 7:22 pm
Location: Framingham, MA


Return to Stories

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest