Saturday, January 9, 2010

Prologues

Occasionally writers are advised to avoid using prologues. I want to bring this up because, honestly, I do not understand why prologues are thought to be a bad idea!

In my opinion, a good prologue can provide valuable information that a reader might not find included in the main story - for instance, something which happened long before the events of the story begin, but which is a principal cause of the current story. A prologue might serve as in invitation into the story or a sampling of what is to come, or a frame story which adds another dimension to the novel. And as a reader, I actually enjoy reading an interesting prologue.

So tell me: what is you opinion of prologues? Do you ever include them? And as a reader, do you like them, or do they annoy you?

8 comments:

  1. I've been advised that also. I had deleted my prolouge because it didn't start with my MC and confused some early readers. I've tried to work the much needed info in the early chapters but they don't flow as much now. My beloved prolouge will be rewritten in.

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  2. I've not written any and as for reading, well it depends. It depends on each individual book. Some are gripping and I don't take any notice that it is a prolouge instead of a chapter. Others are so dang boring that I skip most of it and delve into the book and don't miss it at all. So, again, it depends on how well written it is. But it can be said of the whole book, too.

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  3. I understand the value of having a prologue for the reason you mentioned. If it's necessary and cannot be worked into the rest of the book without breaking the flow or confusing people. On the other end, I've used prologues before and a great majority of the time, they were not needed. I usually used them to introduce a character, to provide a moment of reflection and explain in greater length or to greater depth how they end up where they are. Clearly, some of that could easily be written into the rest of the book or wasn't even necessary in the first place. And if the first chapter started with more action or something more interesting to draw the reader in then the prologue was only hurting me, not helping me.

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  4. Personally, I haven't ever written a prologue - I haven't felt the need. As a reader though, I'm of two minds of prologues. Prologues that are necessary to the overall story need to exist; that is, when the prologue provides valuable information to the reader about background and circumstances that surround the story, the prologue should be there. Sure, the information could be worked into the story, but it's not always a part of the story. Prologue is often something that happens completely outside of the story, and, well, can't always be worked into the story itself.

    That being said, prologues that go on for pages and pages and pages and do nothing to set-up story, introduce characters that don't matter, and aren't interesting in and of themselves, I really think ought to not exist.

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  5. Ick.

    The problems with a prologue have been stated before: they are (usually) show not tell, and they are usually written in a voice that isn't predominate in the rest of the book.

    Just call it Chapter 1, don't tell me what's going on, show me.

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  6. As a reader I am looking forward to reading it and i will wonder where it is if i do not see it in a book.
    i guess the rules are changing

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  7. Great question ... well, I guess my feelings about prologues could be summed up as follows: I must admit, I am innately prejudiced against them (contrast with the beloved epilogue.) I think I tend to breeze over them b/c I'm eager to get into the "actual book." With epilogues, I'm presumably so invested in the characters by then that I'm dying to find out what happens to them "off the record," so to speak. However, if the prologue is short enough, I will give it a chance. I think I also confuse Prologues with Forwards, mistakenly grouping them together as being outside the principle story. Hope my little ramble answers your question!

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  8. As a reader, I like them if they are important to the story and short. Short being a key word here!

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