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Author: Subject: Prologues
Lost Darkness
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[*] posted on 1/16/2011 at 03:55 AM
Prologues


So, I'm working on several novels and in one of them I think I want to include a prologue. My questions to you all are:

1.) what is your opinion of prologues in general?

and

2.) what should a prologue accomplish in order to make it worthwhile.
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[*] posted on 1/16/2011 at 08:27 AM


I'm somewhat of a beginning writer, not having had a novel published (yet), but I have read in numerous blogs, websites, etc, by publishers and agents, that prologues are a no-no. 'They' say you should incorperate the information the prologue gives into the body of the novel.

That being said, in thinking about prologues in books I have read, I have to agree that most of the time (not every single time) it would have been better to have done that. Most time, IMO, it is a weak way to start. But there are exceptions: times when a prologue was the best way to start. How to tell the difference? Probably have someone read it that will give you an honest answer. Like a local critique group or your critique partner, if you have one.
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[*] posted on 1/16/2011 at 10:38 AM


My first Katla novel starts straight away at chapter one, but my second Katla novel has a prologue. Why? Because the second novel starts with two secondary characters conspiring against the protagonist. As I think the first chapter should be the [re-]introduction of the protagonist/main character, I made the chapter with the two secondary characters a prologue. If you want to check it out, I put it in the Critiques section - Prologue and first chapter Katla 2.

[Edited on 16/1/2011 by Reprobate]




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[*] posted on 1/16/2011 at 09:34 PM


I don't like prologues, not as an editor and not as a reader.

The only times I've ever liked prologues was when it was a series that was already known to be a series, and the prologue sort of tells what happens at the end, without the twist or surprise, and has the character sort of looking back over the entire series. Even then, it has to be expertly done.

Every agent's blog I've read has said not to do a prologue.

To my way of thinking, if a prologue is required then the story probably should have started there to begin with.

I do, however, sometimes like epilogues. Not all the time, but once in a while, it's a nice 'after the fact' that isn't exactly part of the story. I have an epilogue in my book WHAT BROTHERS DO, in which the story ends naturally and at a great point, where all loose ends are tied up, but I jump ahead about a year and have a 'remembering' of a character who had died in the story. It's a good epilogue, I think. But I avoid prologues.




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[*] posted on 1/16/2011 at 09:57 PM


Meh, I could go either way. Sometimes I like them, sometimes I don't. I have one in Bubba, and while I think it creates a little intrigue, it doesn't actually add to it.



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[*] posted on 1/17/2011 at 01:27 AM


Thanks for the input. I wasn't sure about including it and after reading your responses I'm almost positive I will not.
Now I just need to find a way to include the information early on without giving too much away.
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[*] posted on 1/18/2011 at 08:34 AM


I rather like prologues. It's my understanding they are frowed upon more so because they are generally used incorrectly. I understand a prologue can be effective otherwise. Can't you use one to convey to a reader, or to introduce, a conflict that your main character will be dealing with throughout the novel?

For example:
I've gone back and forth with this, trust me, and since the book isn't even being looked at yet by editors or agents, I still have it in there, but I am currently using a prologue in my Mixing Secrets novel.

It's in first person from the view point of a woman's daughter and she deals with her mother's sudden death. I wanted to give the reader an idea of that moment in time when the mother actually dies, so I use the prologue for that, and then chapter one actually begins several months after the mother's death.

I dunno if it works or not.

I also use another prologue in another story LOL to convey something that happens months before the story actually begins.

I would suppose if an agent or editor said hey this does not work, then by all means, I'd remove them, but I think it just depends on the story itself, how the prologue is written, and if it really works as a prolgue if it provides info to the reader that doesn't really work else where in the story.
:punk:




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[*] posted on 1/18/2011 at 09:02 AM


To me, most of the time, I think a prologue means you're starting your story in the wrong place. If you absolutely have to have the prologue in there for the story to make sense, then you need to start your story there.

I read on a blog somewhere and I can't remember where but will look for it, that in a survey, a lot of people don't even read prologues, because they consider them like acknowledgments and prefaces.

So if you're story is relying on the prologue, it might be worth it to find out if it might be better to just start your story at the point you're starting your prologue.

As for agents telling you to take it out... I wouldn't waste a submission to an agent that tells you to remove it, because if they do that, that probably aren't accepting it either!

I'm not saying not to use one. I"m saying to be very honest with yourself about whether your story really needs it or not.




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[*] posted on 1/18/2011 at 09:15 AM


Ah, prologues... sometimes I skip over them... sometimes I read them and, by the time I finish it, I decide not to read further...

That being said, my first book seems like it is going to have a prologue, epilogue and any other type of "logue" I can squeeze in... maybe it's because it's my first book... maybe I'm slightly silly like that... but, it's my masterpiece that needs to be perfect and, to me, that seems to include various "logue" type segments :smilegrin:




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[*] posted on 1/18/2011 at 10:14 AM


Quote: Originally posted by Michy  
To me, most of the time, I think a prologue means you're starting your story in the wrong place. If you absolutely have to have the prologue in there for the story to make sense, then you need to start your story there.


As to the second Katla novel:
Is the prologue absolutely necessary? No, but it does create tension and suspense, thus heightening the reader's anticipation.
So, I could start Katla 2 with the first chapter, but the prologue [which I haven't labeled prologue in the manuscript, but just the location and season] gives a little buzz before the main event.
It's a bit like David Morrell's Brotherhood of the Rose novels - they often start with a seemingly unrelated event that influences the main characters nonetheless.




For links to my books and news, please click on this link: Tao of Violence

rep·ro·bate
n.
A morally unprincipled person.
One who is predestined to damnation.
adj.
Morally unprincipled; shameless.
Rejected by [fill in the supreme being of your choice] and without hope of salvation.

"Beware the lollipop of mediocrity! Lick it once and you'll suck forever..."

Calvin: "I used to hate writing assignments, but now I enjoy them. I realized that the purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!" - Calvin and Hobbes.
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[*] posted on 1/18/2011 at 08:43 PM


Reprobate, I'm not sure I dislike your prologue, since it sort of isn't really a prologue. I mean, it's sort of a way of getting the reader back into the story, assuming they hadn't read the first one, you know?

The only thing I would be sure of is that your true beginning of the story can stand totally alone if the person skips over the prologue.

But as you said, you're not actually defining it as a prologue, so it's likely the reader will just assume it's the start of the story or a teaser, either one.

I think you're good with the story the way it is (nodding)





Love and stuff,
Michy
~~Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations~~


Do just once what others say you can't do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again." James R. Cook

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[*] posted on 1/20/2011 at 05:55 AM


Quote: Originally posted by Michy  

The only thing I would be sure of is that your true beginning of the story can stand totally alone if the person skips over the prologue.

But as you said, you're not actually defining it as a prologue, so it's likely the reader will just assume it's the start of the story or a teaser, either one.

I think you're good with the story the way it is (nodding)



It could be skipped without losing essential information, and as it isn't labeled 'prologue' most readers will probably read it first, so it'll be fine, I'm sure.

Thanks for the confidence, Michy. Means a lot to me.




For links to my books and news, please click on this link: Tao of Violence

rep·ro·bate
n.
A morally unprincipled person.
One who is predestined to damnation.
adj.
Morally unprincipled; shameless.
Rejected by [fill in the supreme being of your choice] and without hope of salvation.

"Beware the lollipop of mediocrity! Lick it once and you'll suck forever..."

Calvin: "I used to hate writing assignments, but now I enjoy them. I realized that the purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!" - Calvin and Hobbes.
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