1. Fronzizzle
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    Fronzizzle Member

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    Prologue, flashbacks or both?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Fronzizzle, Aug 26, 2014.

    Hello all,

    I'm sure what I want to accomplish can be done in one of three ways, as the title suggests. I'm trying to figure out the most appealing way of handling it for the readers.

    I'm not sure the exact details matter all that much. A rather mundane Event A happens in 2006. This results in a major Event B a few days later; this the event shapes the main character and provides the basis for much of the story's conflict; the rest of the story takes place in the present day.

    My original plan was no prologue, just reference the events in flashbacks, memories, etc. The benefit, as I see it, is that I can start the story off in a more exciting manner and try to hook the reader. However, I want to avoid info dumps and spending too much time at the beginning going back to the past, and the rest of the story moves pretty fast so I don't have a lot of time to bring the reader in the loop.

    The next thought I had was to do a prologue. Seems to work in that it provides a good deal of the back story...but starting the book with something that is sort of routine (Event A) doesn't seem like a great way to bring in the readers. Yes, I'm sure it depends a great deal on how its written and Event A does have its own conflict, but in my mind it isn't the best way to start a book.

    So...what I'm thinking is a prologue with a flashback. Start the book off with Event B, with references back to the routine Event A. It allows me to start the story off stronger. What I don't like about it, though, is that it removes a little bit of the mystery surrounding the main character. And, if I did a prologue I wasn't planning on having it be very long which means I'm going to have cram quite a bit of information into it.

    Of course, as I write this out I'm wondering if the prologue is just Event B, then I can flashback to Event A throughout the story.

    That is my very long way of saying I still haven't decided which way I'm going to do this and I'm looking for some advice. Thanks.
     
  2. Superbean
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    Superbean Member

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    I am no expert on this, but I think it can be done any way you like it. I think it depends on what kind of narrative you planning on use. If you go for a first person I think a short prologue could work really well to get the reader into the setting, without spoiling to much. This allows you to focus more on telling the story as it happens and not so much on have already happened. The prologue would probably have to be in a third person I think, without addressing any characters as obvious main characters.

    If you tell the story in a third person, I still think it is possible to pull off, it just get a little more difficult. The game of thrones books uses prologues, and except the first one, I find them to be long and unnecessary. The first Harry Potter book has a prologue if I recall it correctly, or was it a complete chapter before the story really starts? Point is, it's not impossible, but it depends of corse on how you write it and how you write the rest of the story.

    When it comes to flashbacks I am a huge fan of the occasional flashback. Seeing as flashbacks are often used to explain how things has come to be as they are when we read it gives a satisfying explanation for something the reader doesn't know yet. But don't use to much flashbacks. To much of it breaks up the flow of the story, and slows it down. I understand it as it's quite a fast paced story, and if that is the case, a lot of flashbacks are not to prefer. A few well placed won't hurt though. Quite the opposite in fact.

    This is just my two cents, and by no means the truth. You go ahead and write a prologue and if it doesn't work you just remove it and implement whatever is missing into the story.
    Good luck
     
  3. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    Correct.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Write it then figure it out. Write the early chapters. Don't fall in love though, be ready to throw them out if you don't need them. Write the story. It will become clear then how to structure the book.

    I did that and ended up deciding on two parallel stories, one as my protag matures, and one that was her present adventure. And I threw several chapters out without a care.
     

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