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A question of structure


I'm working with someone to get a fantasy novel into shape and one of the things I have argued about is using what I'd call a framework. By this I mean quotes from a book that is available to the characters of my novel but not necessarily to the audience... (Though I've been encouraged to write the book that is quoted!) So to give just a bit more info here is the start of my first chapter...

The first duty of a prince is to rule firmly without becoming a tyrant.
The first precept from The Duties of a Prince.

Each chapter in my novel has a quote from The Duties of a Prince that I feel is somewhat indicative without being too forshadowing of the tone of the chapter....

Is this a reasonable way to write?
I have seen that done a lot, didn't Across the Nightingale Floor and other Hearn books have little quotes at the beginning of each chapter as well?

I just know that I have seen this a lot, and it doesn't seem like a bad idea. Not something I can use in my books but... Works for some.


Any decent editor who would argue against you doing this is an idiot. Anyone who hasn't edited a spec fic novel shouldn't really be listened too because they don't understand our genre. Someone telling you not to do that is like a thriller editor telling a thriller writer not to quote the Art of War or famous generals etc.

You should write the with the quotes. They are a good way to hook readers into your world because they will want to know about the other book as well. You could write that book LATER after you write this novel. Or I think a cooler idea would be is to write this book THEN write the other "manual of how to be a prince" and make it shorter like Art of War length and either give it away to readers who have purchased your book or as a free download on your website. That is what I would do.


Its an easy, convenient method of adding body to a tale or character. I wouldn't use it myself though, to me it somehow seems like cheating. The information given in those snippets can with some skill be incorporated into the tale itself.
This was done in by Brandon Sanderson in his Mistborn book, and it was interesting because the entire time you were allowed to believe that the snippets were a journal of the evil emperor prior to him becoming so. So nice when you find out what really happened. So, they can add quite a bit to the story.


Good catch LD, I forgot all about that until you mentioned it. It was extremely effective in Mistborn and quite brilliantly done as well. When in doubt follow in the footsteps of giants...