I wrote a prologue for THE ALIGNMENT at some point during my years of querying. It gave a tense opening to the book I hoped would be a better hook. It also introduced Trey from an outsider’s perspective, which I liked, because it set you up with a bit of warning about the guy.
I cut it before the book went to my editor for several reasons:
– it opened the book too much like a thriller (which it isn’t)
– it added another first person point of view (two are enough, three might be confusing)
– it cut Liv from being the first character you meet (she needs to be first)
– nobody likes prologues (get to the story already!)
I still like it though, for that glimpse of Trey through someone’s eyes other than his own and Liv’s. Because we all know they’re both a bit biased. :)
Fun facts: The mess Trey sees in his kitchen in chapter two and cleans up in chapter four is a result of this scene. The gash he gets above his eye in this scene is the one Liv fixes for him when they meet at the clinic in chapter two. (She thinks it’s from the car crash. He knows it’s not.)
Here it is. It’s raw and unedited, so please don’t yell if you find some mistakes. If you haven’t yet read THE ALIGNMENT, what are you waiting for? Buy it!
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Prologue of THE ALIGNMENT
(unedited deleted scene)
As soon as he steps down from his truck, I know today is the day. Yesterday was wrong, and I’m glad I waited. The dirt covering him from head to toe tells of a long day of physical labor. The slump of his shoulders proves it. The brown paper bag doing little to mask the bottle of alcohol he grips by the neck makes me chuckle out loud. Fatigue and alcohol. Today is my lucky day.
He plods into the house, and I move to the backyard to gain a better view. I need that alcohol in his system before I make my move. The more the better. From behind the house, I see the kitchen light blink on. It’s a beacon from his wide-open window, calling me in. We know he’s bold, but I refuse to acknowledge his careless indifference. He must fear us. He has to.
The first glass goes down quickly. To my satisfaction, he fills it again. He’s slower to consume the second glass, but I can be patient. All who came before me must have been missing this key ingredient. Patience. And they are all dead because of it.
The moon rises above the mountains while I wait, reducing my cover of darkness. When every light in the house has been off for a while, I move in. The howl of a nearby wolf cuts the air. I pause. It takes a long time for the stillness to return, but once it does, I continue my approach. The sliding glass door is unlocked. Without a need to pick a lock, this feels like cheating. My fingers graze my gun, but I remember we were taught not to rely on weapons. The old wooden floor in the kitchen remains silent under my careful tread. My eyes dart to a sliver of moonlight reflecting off the blade of a large knife on the counter. I could use his own knife on him. What a story that would be when I return. But it won’t be better than my reward.
The handle of the knife slides into my hand. A shadow crosses my peripheral vision, and I eat the floor without warning. Blood seeps into my mouth. I leap up and twist. He comes at me again. The knife catches him above his eye, but then it’s out of my hand and I’m on the floor again. My head pounds. I don’t even know where I’ve been hit. I roll under the table as it’s thrown sideways. Pulses of pain jar my body with such rapid precision all I can do is curl and protect my head.
My ribs collapse. Shallow breaths aren’t enough, and I swing my elbow into the open air that suddenly surrounds me. I recognize the break in his offense and move, grabbing the handle of a drawer to pull myself upward. Knives scatter at my feet, and I raise my head, swallowing my surprise at the large, calm space between us. We make eye contact in the dim room. He’s big, but not as big as I imagined. With the number he’s killed, you’d think he was a mammoth.
I blink away the clouds rolling into my vision. Light angling through the window settles on his face, reflecting off the dark stream of blood running from the cut above his eye. Other than that, he doesn’t have a scratch on him. Yet I’m working off one lung and struggling to remain standing. He takes a step backward and cocks his head, studying me like the exhausted parent of a mischievous child.
Something sinister drives this guy. Something unbeatable. We are sent as sacrifices, simply to shake him up. Nothing more. With all the training I’ve had, I still walked into this blind. Blind and stupid. Is he really their enemy, or is he one of them? I may not make it back with what they want, but I can make it back alive. And I know he’s not going to let me go without a fight.
My hand goes for my gun, but it’s missing. I snatch the closest knife from the floor and swing my leg at his ankles. He dodges, but it’s enough to open his side to me. I blast upward and jab the knife toward his kidney. The snap of my wrist then my elbow buckle my knees. His arm wraps around my shoulders from behind. His free hand grips my head at the temple. He grumbles something under his breath. When my first vertebra breaks, I know his words are the last I have failed to hear.
Yowza! That’s awesome!
Interesting, Kay. I personally love prologues and use them in my novels. I am going to ask around my friends now. If they agree with you then I might need to lose them quickly!
I’ve read books they do work in. Yours probably. :)
But I think they’re often overused. And THE ALIGNMENT is much tighter without it.
It’s not something I’ve thought much about but I am now! I have used them twice now – both in fairly serious literary fiction. I have never used them in my children’s books or my light fiction. I suspect there’s something right there. I did like your prologue I must admit but can easily accept you don’t feel it fits your genre. As ever, thanks for raising questions in my mind.