Hi Guys,

Any advice on how to 'flesh-out' a narrator?

Many thanks in advance.


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I think most writers have this fear at one point or another when they're starting out. For what it's worth, remember, it will be your name on the cover. No matter where the idea came from, you're going to take the credit or heat for it. Be sure it's something you're okay with.

Thanks Dana. I'm going with a prologue, as suggested by my editor. As for fleshing out the narrator, I've added a paragraph about his phobia for drowning. Its not much, but a situation in Nigeria makes him remember watching someone almost drown, and through the rest of the ms we see him 'noticing' bodies of water as he travels around Lagos, Nigeria.

I think I like the prologue. It is not necessary, I don't think. Readers wont miss anything if they don't read it, but it illustrates (or introduces) the world of the story. It's also cryptic in what it shows, only becoming fully understood once the rest of the story is read. I dont know. I dont know. But I like it. 

Hello I J Parker

I may reveal my ignorance but am interested in your comment that readers dont like proloques..., as you offer insightful advice.  Would you suggest not to open a novel with an arrest and then go back in time,,,,>  Thx Dan

I have used prologues myself, usually of a murder. I see no reason why you can't do what you plan. The objections to prologues have more to do with writers who start with pages of background information. Readers like to start with action. If they have to wait too long for action, they won't read on.

Phew, agree totally! I got a little case of the willies when i noted your original comment!

I've heard agents and an editor say they think readers skip Prologues and begin on chapter one. Looking at the twenty-some written Amazon reviews for my own book -- which has an important Prologue (no mystery without it) -- I'd say these agents and editors are wrong 90% of the time. One or two people didn't get something, I think by missing the Prologue.

Even this percentage could be considered significant, though. Why irritate ANYone if you don't have to? I'd skip using Prologues if I could, and maybe I will someday, but right now my Prologue mystery is a major element of the series.

"I'd say these agents and editors are wrong 90% of the time."

I have come to the conclusion agents and editors are experts at saying wjat won't work, or won't sell, but they have no idea what will.

Of course, once they say something won't, it becomes somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophesy, since it never sees the light of day.

What's a first-time writer to do? I feel the story is told. Any additions, be it flashbacks of the narrator or a prologue, wont add anything new or important for moving the story along. 


You could try a physical 'thing' and relate it to a defining or important event in a life (limp from accident or assault,  liver issue from drinking, a drug related residue... 

Good Luck

Thanks Dan. I've given him a phobia for water. Its an attempt to add some psychology to the story. He never says he's afraid of drowning but his actions, reactions, reflections, show an aversion for getting close to water. I've left it for the reader to realize, through hos thoughts, that the fear of drowning is a fear of something else.

Just don't have other characters in the story delivering lines of dialogue filled with superlatives and platitudes, like a hired P.R. firm, whether they're negative or positive. Words and actions count most.

Luckily I can't do this. He is a total stranger in Nigeria. Lol. No body knows him but for what he does and what he says in the 48 hours during which everything happens. 


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