Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Original Prologue for RETURN TO EXILE

Some of you might find this interesting. Below is the original prologue for Return to Exile. It's very different from what you'll find in the book. Between the first and second draft I rewrote everything but the opening paragraph. The story, world, monsters, and characters changed significantly between drafts, as you'll see.


       Phineas T. Pimiscule was not what you’d call an “attractive” man. He wasn’t “desirable” or “appealing”. He didn’t like “things” or do “stuff”” or “wash” himself. He was not the kind of guy to “put” “quotation” “marks” around “words” or say things in an unassuming or assuming way.
         He was the kind of guy who wore a monocle.
He was also very kind to little old ladies who needed to cross streets, if they weren’t dead already, and passably kind to poor, nearly drowned puppies he occasionally found in the stream on the west side of his family’s ancient homestead, if they weren’t werewolves.
He also lived in a crypt.
Some people might find living in a crypt depressing. Phineas certainly did. But it was better than dying in a crypt. Now that’s something to think about!
Phineas was, all in all, a curious man--a curiously old man who didn’t look a day over forty, which is really not all that old, if he was in fact forty, which he wasn’t.
What was most curious about him, aside from whom he was, and where he was from, and why he lived in a crypt—and all the other things that were in fact far more curious—was the fact that at this very moment in the prologue, he was running for his life.
I don’t know about you, but when Phineas ran for his life—which he did far more frequently than you might suspect—he ran with style. He picked only the darkest of graveyards, the spookiest of houses, and the corniest of cornfields to flee in.
He also liked to carry old books with him, or scrolls, or possibly maps that led to unknown and exotic places, like The-Twelve-Levels-of-Hidden-Terrors, or Wyoming.
He would occasionally drop said books or maps, leading to countless misadventures for unsuspecting children with too much time and not enough sense, many of whom were, it had to be admitted, living in forgotten closets or under darkened stairs, and, in extreme cases, living in both of these places simultaneously, without adult supervision, or under limited supervision from a wicked step aunt or poor shoemaking single father.
That’s what makes this story different. Our main character, who’s not, in fact, Phineas, didn’t live in a closet or under the stairs, as surprising as that may be. His parents took their responsibilities seriously and were not wicked in any way, making it unlikely that Sky, our main character, would be in a place he shouldn’t be to find a dropped book or map that would inevitably lead to misadventures. But even the best of families can have problems.
But I get ahead of myself. Sky has a whole book about him, while Phineas has but this pitiful prologue, so without further injustice, let’s return to Phineas and enter, as it were, a more action-packed sequence.
Decaying cornstalks towered over Phineas like a big tower towers over smaller less big towers. He paused briefly to get his bearings, breathing in the dust as he gasped great lungfuls of air.
Scattered stalks littered the ground, crunching as Phineas shifted from one foot to the other, pondering his predicament.
The gibbous moon cast blue-black shadows of stalks that looked like monstrous figures eating unspeakable living buffets (this is what’s known as setting mood).
A ROAR echoed across the cornfield, and Phineas knew that the creature had finally picked up his scent. He’d scattered a container of pumpkin pie spice to scare the beast off, but it wouldn’t hold it for long. He didn’t have much time now. He’d fought monsters in the past—it was sort of his thing—but this monster was different. It seemed to be controlled by a greater intelligence, no doubt by the evil mastermind behind the infernal plot that would only be revealed in later chapters of this book.
His only choice was to run. He had to tell people. He had to warn them!
Adjusting his monocle, Phineas cut a path through the corn in what he hoped was the direction of the highway. If he could but make it, he could quite possibly get picked up by a passing motor-coach. What he’d do then, he didn’t know, but he knew that these things tended to unfold themselves in setups and payoffs, and he had no doubt that some benevolent force would intervene on his behalf. He was, after all, a lovable character and there were still so many mysteries surrounding him that needed answered.
Phineas popped out of the field suddenly, tripping on a dangling vine and falling to the ground.
With cut and bruised hands, he pushed himself to his feet and cleaned his monocle with his dirtied shirt, which seemed to make things worse.
He replaced the now blackened monocle to his eye and stared up the highway at the rapidly approaching headlights.
Stepping closer to the highway, he began to wave his hands to alert the motor-coach to his presence.
Just as the headlights were about to fall upon him, a pumpkin clawed hand reached out of the woods and grabbed Phineas by the neck.
As the vined pumpkin hand jerked him back into the cornfield, Phineas had three parting thoughts. First, he was surprised to find that he was not the main character in this story, but only an introductory character who would set voice, mood, etc, a conclusion that you, as the reader, had no doubt already reached. Second, he felt a sense of relief that the burden and toils of being a main character were not his to bear. Still, as a good supporting character, he wished he could have warned someone by dropping a book or map or something. As it was, all he’d dropped was his monocle, which, while not incredibly informative, was helpful and would prove useful in subsequent chapters.
As Phineas was dragged off, screaming, into the cornfields and the awaiting terrors beyond, he comforted himself with his third and final thought of the prologue: The Monster Hunters were still out there somewhere. They would be able to help the boy—the main character—who had so unsuspectingly driven past him in a beat up green station wagon with his family only moments before.
Phineas thought about having a fourth and final, final thought, but as it turned out, thinking of having the thought was as far as he thunk because at that moment, he disappeared from our story.


Joe Lunievicz said...

Max and I just read this and can't understand why it didn't fly. It would be a different book but this is pretty damned good too. Very cheeky. This is a great comparison for writers. Hope sales are high.

Unknown said...

Mr. Patten,
I am a huge fan hailing all the way from the great state of California. Both of your books from the Hunter Chronicles Series have kept me up past midnight reading. I have just finished The Legend Thief with the HUGE cliffhanger at the end and I was just itching to know if and when the third book will come out.
Your biggest fan, (or at least one of them)