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Friday, February 5, 2010

How to Write a Prequel and Keep Your Sanity

You ever wonder why in the world bizillionare George Lucas would create the mind-numbingly awful character of Jar Jar Binx? I think I know why. Not that I can relate to the mountains of cash Lucas sits on while drumming up these wild ideas, but I’m starting see how writing a prequel can make you cat poop crazy (I don’t like bats).

Here’s why:

You’ve already written the next book.


Seems obvious, even helpful. At first.

Consider all the perks: you know your characters, you know how they speak, how they think, what would do or not do in any given situation. You know exactly where the story is going. These are valuable steps in the writing process.

Here’s the part that makes you long for a padded cell:

You’ve already determined exactly where the story is going.


See how I’m talking in circles here? It’s kind of like the quantum physics lessons in Lost: on one level, your brain is wrapped around them; on the other, your eyes are glazing over.

Because writing a prequel is not that different from jumping around in time with a bloody nose (sometimes I think my laptop and I are on that island). A prequel jumps you forward, so that everything you now write has to get to the end result that you’ve already determined. If your character makes one bad decision, the actions of the next book no longer make sense (nor do those scenes you love so much).

It’s really hard, and for some reason, I’m setting off on the journey anyway.

Don’t get me wrong. My process is not nearly as complicated, or glamorous, as George Lucas’. The novel I’m prequelling (yes, I made that word up) hasn’t been published yet. (If this book has to go out posthumously from my grave, ANASTASIA will see the light of day.)

But to prove that I will never give up on her (yes, I think Anastasia’s a real person) and that I will not rest until her story is told, I am taking my mother’s advice, splitting my book into two, and writing myself one heck of a prequel. I’ve even tackled an outlining process I’ve never attempted before (mostly because I’ve never outlined before, I’m more of an organic writer).

See, mom! There are notecards and everything:



I’m only a few thousand words in, but to keep myself sane until I reach “the end,” and to not make “Those Who Will House Me ‘Til Then” regret housing me during this process, I’ve decided to blog about my Adventures in Prequeldom (yes, I made that word up too). Stay tuned and hope I don’t ever get to the point where Jar Jar Binx sounds like a really good idea.


POP CULTURE RANT: General Hospital
I think all of us GH fans need to send the original Lucky a thank you note, because he’s resurrected this character of the depths of “I don’t give a crap.” Honestly, until he came back, I could’ve cared less if Elizabeth jumped in bed with half the town. Now, miraculously, I do. And tell me you didn’t all hear those wonderful suggestions of Sonny “losing all legitimate assets,” of “Jason becoming a P.I.,” of Franco preventing them from ever killing again, and not think: Hallelujah! Wouldn’t it be awesome if the mob suddenly ended? If the show went into a different direction? If we got something different for once? Not that I mind a little gun fighting, it would just be nice if the fights weren’t simply part of a recycling program drudging up stories we’ve seen a million times. I say, arrest Sonny and hit the reset button on this sucker.

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