1. Astonix
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    Astonix New Member

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    A Prologue.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Astonix, Jul 10, 2010.

    I'm writing my first novelette at the moment but I'm still new to all this so thought I'd ask the more experienced here.

    I've got an event, set in the future in relation to the story as my Prologue. Then it's Chapter I where it's at the start, flashback. Is this a proper prologue or should it be made Chapter I, making the current Chapter I into II.

    If this isn't the proper way, would a short background story on the races found in my book make a proper prologue.?

    Advice appreciated.
     
  2. kogarasumaro143
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    kogarasumaro143 Member

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    Hmmm... Maybe a prologue is not a chapter 1 making chapter 1 into 2... A prologue is somewhat an introduction for your novel before proceeding to chapter 1.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Don't put in a prologue without a good reason. Providing background is the absolute worst reason for a prologue.

    Do you have a good reason for starting your book by giving tour readers a look at the future?

    Your first objective at the beginning of a book is to raise questions, not to provide answers. Keeping the readers somewhat off balance is a good thing.

    Begin in the story. If you MUST give backstory, make the reader work for it!
     
  4. kogarasumaro143
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    kogarasumaro143 Member

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    so you mean cog that having a prologue is not advisable??
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Most stories with prologues would be improved by removing them. There are exceptions.

    The advice "kill your darlings" should be followed far more often than it is with respect to prologues. A prologue is, by definition, outside the story. Therefore it almost never truly belongs.
     
  6. Astonix
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    Astonix New Member

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    The current event in the prologue was an event which if readers read on, would turn out to be a major twist in the story.

    After reading your thoughts I've decided it would be more suitable to make it Chapter 1 and make the current Chapter 1, 2.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    is this for the adult market, or YA?

    and is there much of a [or any] market for less than full-sized novels in the UK?
     
  8. Astonix
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    Astonix New Member

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    Well, for 16+ I presume.

    It's my first book, first time at writing anything of length which is why I've decided to write only a novelette. Of course, if I have things to make it longer, I will.

    Only 16 myself so don't expect to produce some sort of masterpiece. It's more for my own benefit and to see how I am at writing lengthy(ish) things.
     
  9. kogarasumaro143
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    kogarasumaro143 Member

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    I envy you! Your country lets young people like you to publish a book! How much did you spent for that? But here, there are only few publishers that publishes books and novels that's why it frustrates me, making myself staggering in pedestals.
     
  10. Astonix
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    Astonix New Member

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    I always like to tell myself - It's never too late to do anything, and it's certainly not impossible if you put your mind to it.

    I'm sure if you keep at your novels, you will get published.
     
  11. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    In the novel I am finishing now, about a group of musicians, I have a prologue set in the present that sets the stage for the story, and is written in the first person of one of the main characters, bringing him into contact with the two other main characters with whom he has a stormy history. The body of the novel is in the third person, and it begins with this same character as a child. It then progress to introducing the other two, moving up to present day.

    I left the prologue as a prologue because I thought it was the best way to accomplish my goal, which was to establish the one character as a sympathetic one for the reader (which would then be challenged later in the story). Hence writing it in the first person. But I did not want to write the entire novel in the first person for several reasons.

    My question to you, Cogito, is whether or not you think this was a proper use of a prologue, or if, when I try to get this published, it will leave my story DOA.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I would have written it as a first chapter in third person limited. You can focus just as tightly on the character without resorting to a first-to-third narrative shift. Making it a first chapter instead of the prologue gives a different message, that this is an integral part of the story.

    A prologue is inherently disconnected from the main story, and you are broadening that disconnect by writing it in first person where the rest of tye novel is in third. Moreover, first person is a more unreliable POV, because you are seeing what that charater wants you to see. Third person has a more objective flavor, so the reader is more likely to take what he or she reads at face value.

    That's my take on it. Your mileage, and your publisher's, may vary.
     
  13. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Interesting that you said that first person is more unreliable. Since the prologue (or first chapter) is setting out the character's values and approach now, in middle age, I thought it would be more authentic to have him tell it. Have to think about this.

    One other thing - I'm not sure what you mean by "third person limited". Thanks.
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I don't like prologues, as a rule. Most of them tend to be dull, and many more of them tend to be unnecessary. I've even gone so far as putting a book back on the shelf when I open it and see there's a prologue, though most of the time I'll at least flip past it to Chapter 1 to see if the author has anything interesting to say.

    Oddly enough, many authors don't seem to treat the prologue as the "opening" of the story. They still treat Chapter 1 that way. So you get a prologue, and it's a dull, plodding affair, and when you get to Chapter 1 suddenly there's enticing opening, the hook, or what have you.

    In general, I think it is better to figure you where you story starts, then start it there. As Chapter 1. If you've done that and the still feel the need to go put a prologue in Chapter 1, ask yourself why. Are you really doing it because the story needs it, or as a sort of authorial conceit, where you've decided the reader absolutely has to know about this backstory or other information you've created, and you're going to give it to him whether he likes it or not?
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Third person limited is a third person POV that sticks very close to a single character, often close enough to quote the character's thoughts. Yet it is written as third person narration, so when and if you need to shift to another perspective, the transitions can be as smooth as a scene change.

    It's probably the most popular narrative voice in modern fiction, and it is about the most flexible.

    Because it is told by a presumably neutral, anonymous observer, there is no implied agenda or bias, whereas a first person perspective incorporates the narrator's character. If inclined to exaggerate, or top make himself out as the hero or the victim of circumstance, the reader rightly takes the account with a grain of salt.
     
  16. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    So, in other words, writing it in the third person limited can convey the same sense of the character's values without causing unnecessary complications of switching person, and allows me to just make it chapter one.

    Thanks very much.

    EDIT: Tried it. Didn't like how it came out. Not that designating it as something other than a Prologue is a problem - Chapter One is fine. But I really think that using 1st person in the first chapter adds an intimacy for the character that is lost in 3rd person.
     

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