1. Vworp
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    Vworp Member

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    Is this a prologue?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Vworp, Oct 3, 2012.

    At the very start of my novel, I want to have a "flashforward" to halfway through the novel. This would be to show how the main character is going to end up, so as to pique the reader's interest in finding out how he gets to that point.

    So the novel's structure is like this:

    Prologue: G

    PART 1
    Chapter 1: A
    Chapter 2: B
    Chapter 3: C
    Chapter 4: D

    PART 2
    Chapter 5: E
    Chapter 6: F
    [prologue is set here, chronologically]
    Chapter 7: H
    Chapter 8: I

    PART 3
    Chapter 9: J
    Chapter 10: K
    Chapter 11: L
    Chapter 12: M


    I assumed that this would be called a "prologue". But I looked it up and a prologue appears to be something quite different, more like a "factual" introduction to the novel's setting, rather than part of the narrative.

    So is there a name for this? It's been really annoying for weeks but I just can't think of the word. I don't want to call it "flashforward"!
     
  2. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I personally don't care for "flash forwards" when the character's actions can be established from page one. What works for Tarrintino in the movies, may not in a novel. It's hard on a reader, or agent for that matter if you get past the first page, when the book starts in the middle and jumps backwards.

    Prologues (really chapter one's under a different name) doesn't always lay out the setting, but can be used to actually start the narrative.
     
  3. littleshoe
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    littleshoe Member

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    It is called "Introduction". It is seldom used. (Últimas tardes con Teresa from Juan Marsé has an Introduction)

    Try to find the book (Last evenings with Theresa), and read the introduction. You don't have to read the book; there must be a synopsis somewhere in the Internet.
    The introduction is a sample of the relationship between the protagonists. It tells what is going to happen: passionate love but fragile.
    The novel is chronologically linear. However, the introduction is set in the middle of the story.

    You can also call it "Prologue"; few people care this days. However, the prologue should be short and explanatory (setting, background information...).

    The introduction has the same style that the whole. The prologue can have a different style (i.e Prologue POV: "I", the author; Novel POV:"they", the characters).
     
  4. serowden
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    serowden Member

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    It can be a prologue, because that has nothing to do with chronology, regardless of taste in narrative.

    A prologue should be separate from what's going on at the beginning of the story somehow or set it up from a distance of some kind and be used to get the reader to read.

    Otherwise, don;t have it.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    A prologue is usually at the beginning of the work, if at all, and I don't recommend them. I find the reader's interest is not generally piqued by telling them what is going to happen before you tell them it has. I think what you are looking for is foreshadowing, which is to give the reader some idea that something is going to happen, but not specifically what. I prefer grabbing the reader's interest by putting the MC in a problem or dilemma.
     
  6. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    When I looked at Fantasy books in the library (I haven't read much Fantasy), I noticed that quite a few of them had prologues.
     
  7. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are a lot of books with good prologues, but I agree - what you're describing isn't one. Other than to try to pique the reader's interest (which can be done in a variety of other ways), are there story-telling reasons to have this leap forward, followed by leap backward, followed by a stroll forward to the 'beginning' again?

    And just a note (because this is something that always irks me) - a prologue is not just chapter one with a different name. It's completely different - if it's done properly, that is. Oh, and it's always at the beginning of the book, before the first chapter.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it can still be the first chapter, regardless of time frame... novels often go back and forth in time, so there's no good reason to call this a 'prologue'... and it certainly wouldn't be an 'introduction,' imo...
     
  9. Vworp
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    Vworp Member

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    I can see there is confusion about this. I had thought there was a word specifically for the kind of thing I've described, but it seems not!

    "Introduction" doesn't sound right. This thing does serve that purpose (introducing the main character, the setting etc.), but I would rather state somehow that it is a "flash forward".

    While it's true that novels do often jump back and forth around time, mine does not. It is a straight chronology, but for this one glimpse at the start of how things will be halfway through.

    I might just call it "glimpse" or "vision" or "premonition" or "foresight" or "foretelling".

    Yes, I think "foretelling" is the best. That way we avoid the connotations that come with "prologue" and "introduction".
     
  10. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Really, just call it chapter one! Then in chapter two, just include a little italicised line: "5 years earlier..."!

    "Foretelling" isn't even a title and sounds very weird. As a reader if I saw that, I'd personally skip it - I don't want you telling me anything. I wanna read the damn book. You get the idea. "Foretelling" sounds like a nicer word for "info dump" and though it is not info dump, your reader might assume that it is and run for the hills (or run away to chapter 1)
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto the above!... do NOT title it as anything but 'chapter one'... there is not need whatsoever, to do so...
     
  12. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Agree with these two - there's no such term as a "foretelling" like there is a "chapter" or "prologue" or "epilogue". Call it Chapter One, because that's all it is - the first chapter of the book.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If it isn't, strictly speaking, part of the story you are telling, and it appears before the story itself begins, it's a prologue. If the same, but it appears after the end of the actual story, it's an epilogue. If it is the author's comments about the story or the conditions that inspired the writing of the story, it's a preface or an introduction. Both appear at the beginning, but an introduction is more about the content of a book, and a preface is more about the total book or its genesis. A foreword or an afterword (note spelling!) is material written about the book or its author by someone other than the author. An appendix is supplementary material outside of the story appended to the end of a book by the author.

    Expect the reader to skip over all of these. A prologue, even though it is related to the story, delays the reader's entry into the actual story. Thaqt alone is a good reason to not write one unless you have a sufficiently strong reason for making the reader wait. Providing background information is the most common reason for inserting a prologue, but is also the worst reason.
     

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