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Writers: Do you write Prologues?


Brayon

Prologues  

15 members have voted

  1. 1. As a Writer, do you write Prologues?

    • Yes.
    • No. (Please comment below, as to why you don't.)
    • Other, and post comments below.


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Depends on the story, genre, and length of the story itself. I like Prologues, and I do read them; however, I don't always write them. 

 

I ask, because I'm starting a new project, and I've completed a Prologue and most of Chapter 1 for the story. In an effort to make the Prologue better, and it not being an infodump, I've been reading several articles the past couple of days, and most publishers HATE prologues. I don't see why. They are an effective tool, to get a reader hooked on a story. Just my two coppers.

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I've never written a prologue. Only because I prefer to either weave such information into the story itself, or let the readers use their imaginations to fill in the gaps. I don't like prefacing a story with information. However, I wouldn't be opposed to a prologue if it seemed really pivotal to the beginning of something. 

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i've  written a couple of them. They can provide background and set the scene for the current story you're writing.  I wrote one for After the Past, and for Out of His Mind

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yeah.

 

Depends on the story. Some need a bit of a time-displaced bow tie to tie things up.

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I haven't and my opinion is that they are better if they are kept short and to the point.  I do like epilogues better and I have done that and appreciate when an author provides a really interesting one that enhances the overall story. 

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Epilogues are fine, but I don't see the point of prologue unless it is for a specific genre.  I think sci-fi and fantasy stories do well with them as a way to ground the reader into the type of world they are reading, but as far as other genres, I don't see the point.  Like @MacGreg said, it's better to weave information into the story itself when possible.     

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  • 1 year later...

I feel like there's this assumption that prologues aren't part of the story, that they're just a bunch of information and nothing more. That they're not a part of the story itself. The prologues I've written (and most of the ones I've read, for that matter) are scenes. Prose. Part of the story. I've written prologues that consist of a scene that takes place a significant while before the beginning of the rest of the story. I've written a prologue and epilogue that sort of wrap the story up as two scenes set after the events of the rest of the story. I've always assumed that prologues are supposed to be part of the narrative of the story. I've thought of it as the intro to a song, the recitative at the start of an aria, the overture. That first track on Dark Side of the MoonSpeak, without which the rest of the album wouldn't be the same. But it seems that when other people talk about prologues they think of an introduction to the world or the themes which isn't part of the narrative itself but somehow separate. So have I misunderstood what a prologues is supposed to be?

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6 hours ago, Thorn Wilde said:

So have I misunderstood what a prologues is supposed to be?

@Thorn Wilde I don't think you have misunderstood prologues, you have given a rather elegant context for the use of prologue and raised some important points. I have seen prologue used to explain the story, which begs a few questions, and also used to set context. I have no idea about how or when to use a prologue, but I can add another question to the debate, which I hope is not hijacking the thread.

What about using a Preface, the difference between a Preface and a Prologue being the preface explains how the story came to be written. I have written a fictional biography for which it was suggested a Preface would be a welcome addition to explain the story and what the reader was about to embark on, that is a slice of life and not a story with a beginning, middle and end, or a plot. Subsequently, an online publisher commented that such a Preface was a distraction to the story (wether relevant or not he rejected the story, although not because it had a Preface). So my question: when if ever do you included a Preface?

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On 12/28/2019 at 8:00 AM, Talo Segura said:

@Thorn Wilde I don't think you have misunderstood prologues, you have given a rather elegant context for the use of prologue and raised some important points. I have seen prologue used to explain the story, which begs a few questions, and also used to set context. I have no idea about how or when to use a prologue, but I can add another question to the debate, which I hope is not hijacking the thread.

What about using a Preface, the difference between a Preface and a Prologue being the preface explains how the story came to be written. I have written a fictional biography for which it was suggested a Preface would be a welcome addition to explain the story and what the reader was about to embark on, that is a slice of life and not a story with a beginning, middle and end, or a plot. Subsequently, an online publisher commented that such a Preface was a distraction to the story (wether relevant or not he rejected the story, although not because it had a Preface). So my question: when if ever do you included a Preface?

Honestly, I think the only real answer to that question is, when you want to.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I write prologues for a couple different reasons: 

  1. I want to add a significant time jump after the scene is set. 
  2. I want to jumpstart the plot with characters other than the main ones that move the rest of the story. 

I enjoy giving the reader just a little more information than the characters have, and a prologue is a nice way to do that. But sometimes the story doesn't call for it, so it's not something I do every time. 

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"Late one evening toward the end of March, a teenager picked-up a double-barreled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun into someone else's forehead, and pulled the trigger.

This is the story of how we got there."

- Beartown by Frederik Backman.

That's his prologue. It was short and interesting; it got me hooked to be honest.

I always imagined prologues are like the 5 second start to a movie or a minute intro of the story to an investigative crime-drama series. Not every film has it, but most likely if the plot involves some mystery, it will have one. Just like the first episode of House where the teacher was scrambling on her way to school. And then, she has this brief interaction with a co-teacher about her tryst with a guy the previous night (yes--horny faculty exemplified). And seconds after starting her lecture, she falls down and undergoes an anaphylactic shock and starts seizing. Then insert house opening soundtrack plug-in credits blah blah...then the screen pans to Dr. House. I've always felt that if that first episode was written as a novel, that intro would be the prologue. It's related, but not the meat of the story. It's like the hook to the main plot or to a bigger plot.

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On 1/14/2020 at 7:38 AM, LJCC said:

That's his prologue. It was short and interesting; it got me hooked to be honest.

You cracked it for me. That is what a prologue can/should be. Pulls you in. Not some labouring setup background account.

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@Talo Segura I do :) and you know I do

To me, a good prologue introduces setting and characters as a reference point.

It was William Shakespeare, who wrote

Quote

"What's past is prologue" - The Tempest, Act 2, Scene 1

An interesting question is: What is the key difference between prologue and foreword?

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So, perhaps this best explains the part you may want to write before the novel begins.

Introduction - explanation of why you wrote the book, why the story had to be told, and why by you.

Preface - tells how you came to write this, how long it took, what the reader can expect.

Prologue - reads like a story, included because it relates events outside the main story, what happened sometime before the story starts. It should still address the main theme of the novel.

Foreword - a foreword is not written by the author but rather a person who is authoritive on the topic and introduces the work by the author.

This seems like a fair summary of use.

https://thewritepractice.com/prologue-preface/

 

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On 1/12/2020 at 3:26 AM, BKWildenberg said:

I write prologues for a couple different reasons: 

  1. I want to add a significant time jump after the scene is set. 
  2. I want to jumpstart the plot with characters other than the main ones that move the rest of the story. 

I enjoy giving the reader just a little more information than the characters have, and a prologue is a nice way to do that. But sometimes the story doesn't call for it, so it's not something I do every time. 

The prologue for a fantasy novel I'm working on is set 7 years before the main story begins, and shows the first time the main character's magical powers manifest. It's written in an omnipotent third person that doesn't go inside the MCs head but inside that of one of the other characters in the scene, while the rest of the story is in first person.

On 1/20/2020 at 9:36 AM, Talo Segura said:

So, perhaps this best explains the part you may want to write before the novel begins.

Introduction - explanation of why you wrote the book, why the story had to be told, and why by you.

Preface - tells how you came to write this, how long it took, what the reader can expect.

Prologue - reads like a story, included because it relates events outside the main story, what happened sometime before the story starts. It should still address the main theme of the novel.

Foreword - a foreword is not written by the author but rather a person who is authoritive on the topic and introduces the work by the author.

This seems like a fair summary of use.

https://thewritepractice.com/prologue-preface/

 

I've seen forewords written by the author. Or things labelled foreword, anyway. I did it for my book. Maybe that's wrong and it should have said Introduction or Preface, I dunno. It contained things listed under both of those.

As for prologue, the prologue for Ocean at the End of the Lane by Nail Gaiman takes place after the main story, chronology-wise. 

I think trying to define exactly what a prologue is is difficult. It can be something different for every author. I guess the main problem is readers thinking they know what prologues are and assuming that they're only that one thing. Like everyone who seems to think that a prologue is just a lot of world building and info-dumping because that's what some fantasy and sci-fi authors do. I talked to someone on Twitter about this and they said, 'If it's not that, why not just call it chapter one?' And I said, 'Because it's not chapter one. It's a prologue.'

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Reading through the answers they all seem to boil down to the authors goal. Personally, I haven't written a prologue in any of my stories simply because I didn't feel the need too. I see them more so as a hook but more in depth, because whether the reader decided to skip it or not, it is the first words put to the story structure regardless of chronology. Like most techniques It's about the execution and purpose, and not necessarily something needed or not.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I feel the use of a prologue is dependent upon the type of story/book you are writing.  If it's a modern-day, drama/romance/typical run of the mill story, I don't think it's necessary.  However, if you are writing a fantasy novel or sci-fi, it could help the reader (and the writer) by using a prologue to explain certain concepts and/or technologies that are out of the norm in the real world that are considered obvious in the world the readers are about to enter.

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On 2/20/2020 at 11:39 PM, Jdonley75 said:

I feel the use of a prologue is dependent upon the type of story/book you are writing.  If it's a modern-day, drama/romance/typical run of the mill story, I don't think it's necessary.  However, if you are writing a fantasy novel or sci-fi, it could help the reader (and the writer) by using a prologue to explain certain concepts and/or technologies that are out of the norm in the real world that are considered obvious in the world the readers are about to enter.

That makes the assumption, as has been discussed previously, that a prologue is basically an info-dump. A prologue can be a scene that takes place far enough back from the rest of the story that having it as part of the first chapter gives a jarring time jump, for instance. Or it can take place after the story in chronology, giving hints and hooks as to what's to come and thereby catching the reader's interest. The idea that prologues are the domain of SFF I think is a fairly recent one.

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I think I've only used a prologue once. The idea for me would be to set up the story to come and whet the reader's appetite. I think, used wisely, they can be an enhancement. I do tend to forget about the prologue once I've gotten into the story, so sometimes when things from that prologue become important in the story, they come as a surprise. I also think that prologues should be rather short, otherwise you get invested in what's happening there and have to shift gears to get to the story proper.

So, like all things, used properly I read them, but don't have much cause to use them myself.

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