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Drewby
March 23rd, 2003, 12:31 AM
How do you write your prologues?

Do you just spit out all sorts of information, like the entire history leading up to the story. Or do you leave some loose ends to grab the reader and plunge him into the story.

I am thinking of adding a prologue to my current WIP, but not quite sure how to do it. Personally, I don't enjoy reading prologues that are just information to set up the rest of the story, it seems like a chore you have to do before getting to the good stuff. But if I were to make the prologue some tidbits of info and throw in some mystery (make it sound more like something you would read on the back cover or the inside flap, the summary), do you think that would be more enjoyable?

Bardos
March 23rd, 2003, 02:39 AM
Usually, I don't make prologues.

But, when I do write one, then I use it to set the mood for the story, to show the readers where they really stand and what is the 'place' around them. Nor do I make prologues more than 1000 words.

I never use prologue as a teaser: a dark unknown someone who gets sttabed in the back; an archdemon who roars that he'll take over the world; a great volcano erupting -- you get the idea, I think. This is the oldest trick in the book, and my opinion is that it should be avoided, if possible, and replaced with something really interesting. Apart from a few fan boys, I don't think that a serious reader is to be atracted (sp?) by that kind of staff.

mistri
March 23rd, 2003, 05:15 AM
I like interesting prologues that read much as the actually story would. I don't like prologues that read as dry history or exposition - I tend not to read them fully, and this can cause problems later on.

I've thought about using prologues, but so far, the two fantasy novels I've worked on just haven't seemed to need one.

I did write a prologue to something about ten years ago (I was thirteen) when I was writing a story about adult twins and needed to show what happened when they were born, but that's the only time I can think on.

Don't write a prologue if it doesn't feel right for the story, or doesn't add anything of value to it - but if it does, then go for it!

OgreWolf
March 23rd, 2003, 03:41 PM
When I write prologues I usually it might not mean anything in itself. Most often it presents a mystery which is important later in the story (which is the whole point of a prologue, I think). I find that I seldom name any characters, usually to make the reader think later in the story "maybe that's him", then you can make another character a possible 'suspect', and confuse the reader to some extent, and you can surprise him/her later on.
A prologue should also try to catch the readers attention, make him/her want to read on.
Prologues are also usefull to set up the story and events without using you main characters, and events that does not really involve your caracters. If you write a chapter about a new character, the reader most often expect that character to pop up from now and then, but in a prologue it is not necessarily so.

Richardb
March 24th, 2003, 12:21 AM
I use the prolog to set up the conflict, but generally offer it as a slice of action and story, not history. I deal with history within the novel itself generally, either embedded in dialog or as a separate chapter integrated into the overal story. I think that a history lesson in the form of a prolog can turn the reader off, as they are seeking to get engaged in story right away.

milamber_reborn
March 24th, 2003, 12:54 AM
I think the only time I would use a prologue is if I'm presenting a viewpoint or situation not involving the main character, like Martin's Game of Thrones. With my first chapters I plunge straight in. Not necessarily into action, but there's no need to deluge a reader with details right off the bat.

juzzza
March 24th, 2003, 04:38 AM
I love using prologues.

I like to think of them as a snapshot of what is to come. Not so much setting the scene, I would never use it to bring the reader up to speed with the history of my world, but I might use it to grab their attention and make them want to read more. Sometimes I use it to 'showcase' an important character.

I think the best prologue I have ever written, centres around two men sitting in a tavern having a dialogue. Through their conversation I set the scene for my world. Sounds boring I know, but it worked.

Some writers use the prologue like the first five minutes of a movie, you know the bit before the credits. Think the opening sequence of any bond movie.

G R R Martin offers a good one in aGoT, introducing 'The Others' and keeps you waiting an age before bringing them back into the tale.

Gemmell is great at using prologues.

By the way, sometimes it is good to write the prologue last. Once you have completed your tale, you can then come up with something that really grabs the reader as you know exactly how the entire tale unfolds.

Lucky Joe
March 24th, 2003, 09:28 AM
Originally posted by juzzza

By the way, sometimes it is good to write the prologue last. Once you have completed your tale, you can then come up with something that really grabs the reader as you know exactly how the entire tale unfolds.

I couldn't agree more, in fact that's exactly what i did in my last book, the prologue was only 3 pages long but - i believe - it introduced the story perfectly giving you an idea of what you were about to read without giving anything major away, hopefully creating the desire to keep reading.

Jude
March 24th, 2003, 12:24 PM
I bounce back and forth on whether to write a prolouge or not. My concern of such is whether the reader will read it. I know in my own reading, I've often skipped it just to get to the story.

OgreWolf
March 24th, 2003, 01:05 PM
You sometimes skip the prologue?!!?!? Preposterous!! (I'm not being ironic)
Blasphemy