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Thread: How do you write a Prophecy?

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    Member Misusscarlet's Avatar
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    How do you write a Prophecy?

    My story has a prophecy. Well my other stories will also have prophecies. Exactly what is the best way to write or form one? Tons of good selling books have prophecies. Harry Potter, Cirque de Freak, Gregor the Overlander, Warriors, Septimus Heap, etc. (I read a lot of young, young adult books.) The prophecy I wrote works for the time being, but it needs more oomph.

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    Moderator Chilari's Avatar
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    Prophecy can be done a lot of ways. Poetry is one way which is used frequently. Maybe you could look up realworld historical examples of prophecies being made - like those made my the Pythia at Delphi.

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    Senior Member sashamerideth's Avatar
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    i dont do prophecy, but poetic and somewhat undefined statements are what I would use.
    Come visit my blog, and see what I've been up to.

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    Senior Member BeigePalladin's Avatar
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    so, did you say you're doing a prophey because most cliche'd 'best-seller' bumf has one? weak...

    still, it really depends. a prophecy is a prediction, so the formait is up to you. most things use some form of rhyme or poerty, because that makes it easier to remeber, others will just have it written down. going off actual events, the really old prophecies would be more likely to be in verse/song format because that was a way to pass it on without risking writing it down.

    a more modern version (and one you don't see very often) is just a statement made by someone, because if it's an accurate view of the future it's still a prophecy (and if that's too mundane, you can have it done in a spooky double voice or something).

    something I'd like to see (and now I need to write something with a *shudder* prohecy in it) is an oracle who's a regular at the local pub, doling out rather rediculous predictions and then giving a rather flat "told you so" when they come true
    Some men see things as they are and ask why.
    I dream things that never were and ask why not?

    - Robert. F. Kenedy

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    Senior Member Lord Darkstorm's Avatar
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    The Harry Potter prophecy was a clever one. It wasn't complete, and could have been completely ignored and would never have come true. In fact, there were thousands of prophecies stuck away that doubtlessly never came to be. So in the instance of HP, the prophecy had to be acted upon to be completed. The Wheel of Time has prophecies too...lots of them, and in several languages, and some from other groups of people that are different than the others. Further the fact no one really knows if they are literal or figurative. The whole thing is a mess and the characters interpretations, and lack of confidence in which ones have happened and which ones are still to come make the story better.

    If you need the prophecy to drive the plot, I would suggest thinking about what else could be that plot driver. One of my all time favorite games is bard's tale. Not the original ones, but the one they put out for the consoles (xbox and ps2). There were a prophecy or two, and the bard is told he is the chosen one (and he isn't the only chosen one by the way) and he must go get something so he can get something else so he can do something else to save the princess. At which point the bard aptly asks....why? Why can't I just go directly to the people holding the princess and save her now? I survived the rolling laughter that brought forth from me, but it is such a valid point I think is well worth considering when we write. Why would the characters believe and blindly follow something they have little real reason to follow?

    If you want a prophecy that has real meaning, then it will have to have real meaning in the story. If it is the only driving factor of the story, I'll stick to my suggestion of rethinking it, if not, what is doing for your story? The HP prophecy served as a motivating factor for the antagonist, voldemort. Wheel of Time, a source of confusion, possible guidance, and occasional chuckle. It doesn't drive the story. I've read others, but it is a very hard sell to a reader that someone would drop what they are doing and run off because some prophecy told them too.

    So, to help you with your prophecy, you have to explain what it's intended purpose is, and what it might be able to be as well.

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    Member Misusscarlet's Avatar
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    All good points Darkstorm and Paladin. Mainly my character is immortal and she has been prophesied as the one in many of my books cultures. ( I know cliche, The One? I'll come up with something better). And I don't think my prophecy pushes my character on or tells her what to do, mainly of a storyline, blah can't think of the word. it's not perfect but I'll post it.


    Heart of winter
    Poison will spread
    A life will be saved
    Purpose and trust
    Reaffirmed

    Pain and agony
    Fire and ashes
    New friends
    Against an evil foe

    Perseverance and endurance
    Knowledge of loss
    Brink of madness
    Pushed to the edge
    The one will come

    Peace and prosperity
    Growth and rebirth
    Tragedy and death
    The one will leave

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    Senior Member Lord Darkstorm's Avatar
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    How about a fortune? Not sure whether or not your world contains fortune tellers (if you have a prophecy it is a good sign there might be), but what if it were only some gifted fortune teller that happens to tell her? Then it becomes more of a mystery, not prophecy, and the character doesn't have to act on it, but wonder at it.

    Just a thought.

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    Junior Member Immortal's Avatar
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    "So it shall come to pass that the Ancient Soul shall once again weigh with a golden scale. When the pillars of the earth waver beware the tale it will tell. He who will be reborn will be but two half's of any coin and one yet many. His arrival will be marked with the blood of an ancient line, weakening the Havens upons which the darkness will infest the shadows and will eat of the sun."

    This is the apocalyptic prophecy I wrote in my first book, IMMORTAL. I could only do this after the entire book was written. It is always easier once there is a history. Good Luck.

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    Senior Member Argentum's Avatar
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    Rhyming prophesy is most popular. I actually tried using one like that, but I just couldn't get over just how cheesy it looked. I tried over and over again to reshape it to something more dignified, but I couldn't do it. It's so common it's almost embarrassing to read, frankly. So I took another approach.

    I don't know how many of you have read the Bible, but the Old Testament is full of prophesies. Basically they sound like this: God knows what they are up to/doing/thinking, perhaps the nation/person is over confident or arrogant, perhaps the nation is cruel to its own people, but God knows and this is what he intends to do to them (Or sometimes not what he's going to do to them so much as what the consequences of actions will be, simple cause and effect). The prophesy obviously doesn't have to be from God, but the one I ended up crafting was more "(so-and-so's name), here is the list of your evils/why you must die, this is what will happen to you/how it will happen, and this is the list/description of people who will do the deed." And end with closing comments on whether or not everyone will forget so-and-so ever existed, etc. Simple, to the point, non-rhyming, no-nonsense.

    I chose this way because it seemed more serious, more realistic. The AABB poetic prophesy that I grew up reading in books had awful rhymes because certain authors couldn't think of good words to rhyme with the line above it. Some can pull it off, I'm sure, but some just really can't pull off that type of prophesy. *coughMEcough*

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    Member Laughing_Seraphim's Avatar
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    This is one place I am prone to use dialogue, dissent, then skip the exposition.

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