Saturday Shorts: Evolution of Prophecies

The Astrals has long been a project of mine, being one of the first novels I ever wrote, one of the stories dearest to my heart, as well as a story that has gone through more revisions than any other I’ve written (in part due to the horrendous nature of the original draft.)

When I first wrote the story, my sister and I wrote a prophecy together that the story was tied around. Yes, I know prophecies are cliche, yesterday, and so not cool anymore… But I was twelve or thirteen at the time and unhindered by rules of writing.

This is the original prophecy, in all its clicheness:

One who rules the creatures free,
One who shall rule the seas,
One who rules the wind and sky,
And one who rules the trees

They shall join the fiery one
And one who masters all
Lighting darkness that has come
Brought by the one in thrall

Should they falter on their way
Their courage no more flow
The world shall fall in disarray
Beneath the cloak of snow

On the bright side, it doesn’t run on for multiple pages, and it rhymes relatively well, with a pretty good cadence.

On the downside, it’s very over the top.

Throughout numerous drafts and critiques, I had feedback from a variety of people who all pointed their fingers at the same thing–the prophecy needed work. Or, better, it needed to be cut.

After a long struggle, I decided not to cut the prophecy out completely. It was relevant to some threads in the story, and I liked it, cliche as it was. I did agree, though, that despite how short it was, it was still too long.

I don’t know how long I spent writing, rewriting, and re-rewriting this prophecy. It went through more drafts than The Astrals has, just on its own.

This is the final result, the prophecy included in the current, still-a-work-in-progress draft of The Astrals:

Darkness comes as fates arise,
Trees and beasts, sea and sky
As ancient chains shattered lie
Light will fade, hope will die.

Much briefer, much more mysterious (in my opinion, anyways), and far more suited for a MG/YA fantasy than the original.

What do you think? Do you like prophecies? Have you ever had a prophecy in a story? Did you keep it, or end up cutting it in a later draft?

8 Comments

  1. The update is definitely an improvement 🙂 Good work. I kind of have a prophecy in my main book >_> I’ve gone out of my way to have none of the characters actually know what it is though, or call it a prophecy. No one’s yelled at me for it… yet *crosses fingers*

    1. Thanks! I was really happy with the final result (if a bit distraught over how long it took to reach that result!) Nice job avoiding it being too outright… I considered doing that but in the end decided it would be too difficult.

  2. I LOVE prophecies. I wrote one for a someday book series. I’ve never minded the cliches and I know mine is probably riddled with them too. I changed it a bit to hopefully make the worst cliche less obvious.

    There’s just something about them that’s so mysterious and intriguing.

    1. I enjoy a well-written prophecy–I’ve read books with not so great ones, but when they’re good, they can add a nice bit of intrigue to the story. Cliches can be hard to avoid in fantasy…sometimes you just need to embrace them!

  3. Tee

    I’ve never included a prophecy in any of my stories, but I do have a character that’s a prophet in one. His prophecies, though, aren’t the rhyming type like the one you have…which is cool, I think, especially in revised form. I think that a prophecy like that works for a YA book. I have happened to read by an agent that prophecies are one of their pet peeves…but done right, they can add to a work.

    1. Prophecies are definitely a pet peeve, of agents and readers alike, for the main reason that they’re often not done well… But I’m hoping that in its final draft, this one will come through as good! I like that your prophet doesn’t rhyme his prophecies… Sometimes rhyming it can make it a bit too cheesy, I think. Though I tried to avoid that in the revisions of this one.

  4. I think your final version is great. I like prophecies and I’m annoyed that they are considered cheesy these days! In my pre-Scrib extremely rough draft of Uprooted I had a prophecy. But it got binned fairly early on. More because I wanted to move away from the “chosen one” theme than because I thought the prophecy was cheesy.

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