Chapter 4 - Prologue it out & Breathing Life in to Characters

The first part of the Poppy Garden story happens in the prologue, here it serves to introduce my two main characters and fix them in a relationship and setting.  It’s almost like a snap shot a moment in time, like looking through a window on someone’s life seeing how it ticks before the story really kicks in. 

I don’t want to spend chapter after chapter building a back story before the main event occurs because the main event is why you reading the book, I don’t want readers to get bored waiting for the main event but I also want to create an understanding of how things are before to enable and create an understanding of the impact one event can have.

I’ve become quite fond in my work of using flashbacks to illuminate the back story.  I’ve used this technique in my other books to explain a situation at a key point or to signpost something in the future or something in the past that will trigger connections for a reader. 

My synopsis however is often written out with a full back story, or at least notes on how I perceive it’s happened up until the point I start the novel.  These ideas and notes will then be cherry picked for flashback scenes, there will be as many ideas that don’t make it in to the story as those that do, but they all assist in creating the movie in my mind and help me to understand my characters. 

All of this prep work, which I often don’t realise I’m doing, or I tend to continue doing until the book is finished, helps to round out the characters and make them more real so writing for them is natural.    Once the character starts to develop they become their own person and with their own personality and I’m just the conduit for putting them on paper.  I tend to see my characters in social groups;

  • Friends – the characters that if they existed I could imagine being friends with
  • Acquaintances – those I wouldn’t mind saying hello to but may not spend a lot of time with
  • Avoiders – those who I know I wouldn’t get on with or spend time with
  • Villains – Those who you know you really aren’t going to like and who’s actions you are annoyed, repulsed or shocked by

I think this represents real life in a way, you will always have your friends, people you get on with but aren’t necessarily close to and those you have nothing in common with and so you wouldn’t class them as friends or acquaintances.  I would have to say I haven’t met too many villains in my life but I think even the smallest experiences in life which have upset/annoyed/hurt you can assist in breathing life in to your villains.

My aim for the prologue of The Poppy Garden is not only two establish the two characters and their lifestyle but also to create an emotional link between them and the reader, which will hopefully grow and develop throughout the book. 


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