Saturday, August 25, 2012

Where Do You Start the Story?

When you begin writing a book, the obvious first question is where to start the story. If the whole premise of the book and everything that happens flows out of events that occurred many years before the current action, to me it calls for a Prologue that details the background to the plot. I'm aware that some readers refuse to read prologues and skip to start at Chapter 1. To me, this is a shortsighted approach. In the first place, what's the difference if it's called the Prologue or Chapter 1?

My second Post Cold War thriller opens with a Prologue that sets the scene for the story that follows. Since the action takes place mostly in South Korea, we get a little historical perspective on the area and how it developed into an ideological punching bag over the years. It's a key to understanding the motivations of those who people the story.

I carefully researched the background to make sure the history was accurate, which it is up to the point where my fictional character, Young Tiger Lee, picks three of his Northeast Anti-Japanese United Army comrades in Manchuria to form the Poksu (Vengeance) guerrilla group. Returning to their Korean homeland, they wreak havoc on the Japanese Army during World War II.

As I mention in the Prologue, the Japanese forbid use of the Korean language during the occupation. But young Lee, not his real name, chose to use the hangul characters for the Korean word for vengeance, written inside a square, as the mark of his guerrilla group. They left it at sites of their attacks against the Japanese.

As I mentioned in a blog recently at Murderous Musings, The Poksu Conspiracy could be called half spy story, half Korean police procedural. Much of the story is told from the POV of Captain Yun Yu-sop, a homicide detective in the Namdaemun Police Station of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Bureau. The espionage half involves a CIA spinoff called Worldwide Communications Consultants, where my protagonist Burke Hill handles clandestine activities.

Both spies and cops wind up seeking to identify who Young Tiger Lee turned out to be as a key to what's going on in South Korea.

1 comment:

jrlindermuth said...

Agree with you on the prologue issue, Chet. Anxious to read this novel, too. I lived and worked in South Korea for several years.