Chapter One

Today I begin something I meant to begin two months ago: posting an entire children’s novel online. There are several reasons for this which I won’t go into now, but you can go here for the lowdown. This blogpost is for comments on the prologue and the first chapter. The novel is a work in progress and I welcome fedback. I’m also spilling my novelist guts–ever wondered what that looks like? How stories are put together? How fiction works?
Along the way I’ll be sharing what the purpose of a chapter or character is, and why I made certain decisions. They may not always be good decisions, though–you tell me!
I have two particular questions about the first post: 1), to prologue or not to prologue; and 2) too much backstory? But feel free to comment on anything–or ask your own questions . . .

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29 Responses to “Chapter One”

  1. Max Stoner Says:

    I think that you need the prologue because chapter 1 jumps in too quick. I like the part in the prologue where it describes the town because otherwise you wouldn’t know that tomahawk chop was an older town than most. But I think there is a little too much back story because in the book the woman in the castle, is she really needed in the story?

  2. Shelby Moss Says:

    I like the prologue because it tells you about the place where Bird Boy lives, and it shows that he lives in just a small, old, out-of-the-way place where no one cares if he is a bird or not. I think that all the background in chapter one is good to because it tells about how his wings, and feet and everything developed.

  3. Branson Says:

    I very much liked the prologue. It brings the readers attention to the bird boy. But I agree that there is too much back-story. I will love to continue reading the book.

  4. jbcheaney Says:

    Too much backstory. Got it. I’ll work on that. This is exactly what I’m looking for–keep it up!

  5. Emily Says:

    Thanks so much for giving us a peek at the writing process. And for letting us put our oars in!

    My answer to your question is that I think both sections seem a bit like a prologue to me. I think the first by bringing in a first person narrator and focusing on action really pops. The first chapter is important as is because provides some important background and hilarious “flights” of fancy about the day-to-day life of bird boy. I certainly wouldn’t want to lose those.

    Yet I still don’t feel like I’ve gotten to the story yet. To fix that, I think you’d either need to stop and create some deeper drama about how the boy got his wings (his thoughts, feelings, how it affected relationships), or else cover it faster and introduce some new conflict. I like the idea of introducing a new character to spice things up as you did in the prologue. Any bird girls out there?

  6. kk Says:

    I am a student Leon Springs Elementary and in Mrs.Raynolds 5th Grade class in San Antonio. Yes you should keep the prologue because you need the backstory to tell what happen. It helps me under stand what is happening.
    No, I don’t think you have too much back story. It is fine. If you didn’t have backstory I wouldn’t know what you were talking about. You did good.

  7. jsh Says:

    I am a student at Leon Springs Elementary in San Antonio, TX in Mrs. Raynold’s 5th grade class. Yes I think you should have a prologue because it gets you very interested very quickly in the story and you really want to read the book to find out all of the details of what will happen in the story. And we know that the people that live there know because the store clerk knew.
    I really love all the backstory. I liked to know about how he started it and all the things he has to do. Like he had a humped back and he could wiggle his shoulder blades like a rabbit can wiggle his nose. I have a picture in my head about how he is forming into bird boy.

  8. bevon Says:

    I am a student at Leon Springs Elementery in San Antonio, TX in Mrs. Raynold’s 5th grade class. I think you should
    keep the prologue because it gives more of an idea of what
    the story is about. What I would change about your story
    is changing “you dad” to “your dad” in the second pararaph. I liked all the back story because it describes how he’s changed really well.

  9. Linda Says:

    My 5th grade class was split over needing the prologue or just starting with chapter 1. They all seemed to really like the book so far.
    I thought the prologue helped the story start with a bang.

  10. JNJ Says:

    I am a student at Leon Springs Elementary in San Antonio, TX in Mrs. Raynold’s 5th grade class. I think you should keep the prologue but make it a little less cofusing. I think the prologue is confusing because it tells about this girl seeing the boy and you think she is the main character. Is she? I think that you did good besides some of the backstory. If I were to rate your book for five being the highest I would make it a four.

  11. L.E.P Says:

    I am a student at Leon Springs Elementary in San Antonio,TX in Mrs.Raynolds 5th grade class. I think you should have a prolgue but, your prolgue is a little bit confusing. In the prolgue it is about a boy that sees a human bird. Then you read chapter one then it is about a different thing. Where did the boy go? It seems like different things.
    Chapter one was very interesting at first. As the story went on it got a little slow. When it starts to go into how the scientist it predicting how this is happening, that was the part that got a little slow to me.

  12. KWC Says:

    I am a student at Leon Springs Elementery in San Antonio, TX in Mrs. Raynold’s 5th grade class. I think you shoud keep the prolouge because you’re like, “Cool! How did this happen?” and you want to read on. I liked all that backstory because it probably wouldn’t make sense if you don’t know how it happened.

  13. CJR Says:

    I am a student at Leon Springs Elementery in San Antonio, TX in Mrs. Raynold’s 5th grade class.I’m confused with the prologue and chapter one for one reason: I don’t understand why the main charecter in the prolouge is different from the main charecter in chapter one.
    I also think there should be more detail in the story and
    tell more about what the doctors are doing to help and a few details about other subjects in the story. Other than that the story seems intersting and amusing.

  14. ssp Says:

    I am a student at Leon Springs Elementery in San Antonio, TX in Mrs. Raynold’s 5th grade class. I honestly don’t think you need a prologue. You explain everything really good in the first chapter. Although, maybe you can go a little slower. I mean everything was kind of all happening at once. Maybe you can just slow it down a bit. I think it’s good to add a lot of details. That way you can really picture whats happening in your head.

  15. JWB Says:

    I think the book is good so far. I like the prologue because it gives you the idea what it is like to actually be right in front of him when he starts popping out with wings and feathers!

    I appreciate the backstory because it gives you all the detail of how he started out with arm-shaped wings, all the way to getting bird’s feet! I do think it would be cool to get some action going in the story.

  16. Z.H Says:

    I am a student at Leon Springs Elementery in San Antonio, TX in Mrs. Raynold’s 5th grade class.I like the prolouge
    but the starting (which is the first sentence) was really kind of boring to me because your not really making me want to keep reading. It was really good how you described the main character with the feathers, and how he can fly, and how he has a mystery shiney thing in his pocket that might be a cell phone. I can’t wait to find out what it is! It really gets me up wanting to read the book!

    About chapter 1 – trust me: just enough backstory.It gives information before you start a story that doesent start woith a setting or problem.

  17. IEB Says:

    I am a student at Leon Springs Elementery in San Antonio, TX in Mrs. Raynold’s 5th grade class.I think there is way to much back story.One moment he’s walking on a street and suddenly a boy’s back suddenly explodes in a flurry of feathers. I mean that just gave the whole meaning and suprise away. Kids like us love suprises. For example:(the agent started shooting at the cruel scientist’s feet keeping them preocupied while the girl who was bieng expirmented on tried to escape. “im not going to let you hurt that girl” He said.The girl paused; she remembered her name is kate and she recognized the voice but when she saw who said she was suprised. The usaully gloomy sad agent had cheerfulness in his voice and he was happy. She thought he looked familiar. For some reason she had a back flash. She remembered how here father held her up to dry her.She remembered how he called her ‘Katie-Cat’.The agent finally took out his tranquilizer gun and shot the scientist’s. “sorry i was late Katie-Cat” said the agent or in other words he long lost farther.)
    Something close to this kind of suprise will catch our attention. So in other words no prologue to ruin the fun and suprises.

    I would rather let all the action unfold like (Jim goes to an abandoned warehouse and he sees a boy. He quickly becomes friends with the boy. But one in a baseball game you see him float off the ground to catch the ball.)
    Yeah let it all unfold slowly.

  18. AJZ Says:

    I am a student at Leon Springs Elementery in San Antonio, TX in Mrs. Raynold’s 5th grade class. Personly i think the story needs a prologue because some parts of chapter one just get down right confusing like when scientist offer Roy Ray’s parents money to examen him. But I did like the part when Roy Ray started changing [his chest puffed out and his feet changed] And yes I do think there is to much detail like when their talking about Roy Ray weird Aunt’s house. It just goes on and on about the same thing. I found myself getting bored at that point, but the story picked up again after that.

  19. jbcheaney Says:

    Somebody’s read The Mysterious Benedict Society!
    I promise there will be surprises to come. Over the next few chapters it may seem like I’m taking too much time to get into the story, but it seems to me certain things have to be established. Remember books aren’t like movies, where you can see a lot of the stuff an author has to explain somehow. Books take a little more patience, but I think they’re worth it. But I will definitely change some things in the first chapter, include more action, save the aunts for later–and probably leave in the prologue. Thanks everybody!

  20. Lns Says:

    I am a fifth grade student at Leon Springs Elementary School. I liked the prologue and I think it is necassary to make chapter 1 make sense. I think that the prologue is going to lead the story into a good book.
    I also like chapter 1 and I think that you need a backstory, but maybe you should shorten it up a liitle because I was getting a little bit bored when I was reading it.

  21. HKF Says:

    I’m a 5th grade student at Leon Springs Elementary. I think that, with the prologue, you should stop when it says, “and his back exploded in feathers”. For chapter 1, I think you have good details but they’re everywhere. Just tone it down a little. I thought there was good humor in these parts, and other than the above suggestions, I like it so far.

  22. A.R.S Says:

    Hi am a fith grader at Leon Springs and here is what I think of the book. You should keep the prologue because it tells the reader if she or he is interested in the book. It also helps you understand chapter one. I think for chapter one you have a good background story, but you have too many details.

  23. cah Says:

    Hi I am a fith grade at Leon Springs. For question number one I dont think you need a prologue because it has nothing to do with the story. So when I was reading the actual story I was kind of confused at first and I think “what happened to the girl in the prolouge?”

    To me I would like a little of action and backstory. For instance maybe there is a action part then the main charcter has a flash back to let the reader know about his past.

  24. kpm Says:

    I am a student at Leon Springs Elementary. I loved this chapter. my favorite part is when his parents are in shock because he has wings. It pulled me right in. I felt like I was in the book .I can’t wait till chapter two.

  25. LJO Says:

    I am a fith gade student at leon springs elementry. in mrs. ranolds class I think that you should lose the proluge because ether you make it full of action or you lose a valubale reader!!!!!!!!!!

  26. EDD Says:

    I am a fifth grade student at Leon Springs Elemantry. I thoght chapter one was was kind of boring. I thought there was to much detail and back story I mean with out all that back story chapter one would have been very good. But the rest was good, if there were more action it wouldnt have been so boring.

  27. ejg Says:

    I’m a fifth grader at Leon Springs Elementary.I don’t really want the prologue at all because it doesn’t make any sense how the storyline is laid out and also when you
    start to read chapter one it doesn’t make any sense. Chapter one is okay but it’s confusing that the main character switched from the prologue.

  28. jbcheaney Says:

    Thanks to all you valuable readers! Just a reminder that I DO read all your comments and I’m making notes about what to change. I may even rewrite Chapter One (with or without the Prologue??) before we get to the end.

  29. allie Says:

    J. B. Chaney
    I was in west plains and my friend was the squirrel:) i would like to say that i love all of your books and also you have inspired me to be a wright myself and lastly when i read a prolog from your book. That makes me want to read every book!!!! Allie

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