1. Albirich
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    Albirich Active Member

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    Prologue help?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Albirich, Nov 3, 2013.

    Okey, I've written my prologue over 5 times over and I can't get it "right"
    Three of those times have been a change in the prologue story. The two other have been remade partly due to sucky english. (Not saying I'm perfect now)

    I want to give the raw realism and dark world of my book in the prologue, but the things I've been struggling with is;
    Do you want to leave a mystery in the prologue?
    Or do you want to go all in and reveal a minor antagonist?

    Now if I were to have the mystery the PoV would be the girl to be burned. With us reading the horrible things that has and happens to her, till her demise. --The minus of this would be that we would not see one bit of another character that dies the same night as her, by who or why.

    Then there is a PoV of this mysterious character that witnesses the burning and torture of the girl on a stage for all to see. Then he councils with the king and a few councilors-> then he rides out to inspect a weird plague among the animals-> then he heads to kill the character that we would not get to see in the girl's PoV. --The minus in this is that we get to know the "idendtity" of a smaller antagonist and that everything would be laid flat out on the table, (in a way)

    The girl that is to be burned does have a background story that will partly be given in her prologue, if I am to choose her. (She knew one of the other PoV's of my book)
    I'm very tired, I do not know if this is the right place to post. I might even forget something important, but then I'll update later. I will not post an excerpt, just maybe if you PM.

    I could set up a poll, but I'd rather not. It is much better with a detailed answer and a tip or two than just pressing a button.
     
  2. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Could you not demonstrate the raw realism of the novel in the first chapter, instead of a prologue?

    Giving the 'history' of something rarely works in a prologue. As the reader has no anchor/connection or context, it has far less meaning or impact.

    I'd recommend going to books that you've enjoyed that do have a prologue and see how they did it (structure and content and POV, etc.). Then, if a prologue is needed, apply what you learned to your novel and writing style.
     
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  3. Albirich
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    Albirich Active Member

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    The prologue's point is actually the death of this character that you would not get to see in the girl's PoV. That leads in to the story furthered later, I can't introduce the story with the "raw realism"

    The prologue and first chapter is a day apart.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    How much of the rest of your story is written?

    If the answer is none or not much, my advice is to put the prologue aside and write the rest of the story then come back to it.
     
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  5. Albirich
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    Albirich Active Member

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    Not so much, but my head is 2-3 books forward. I got all the biggest events ready and its just a matter of writing and figuring out smaller stuff, but that comes as I write. The prologue is based around that one that previously was very important, dies. Then the question is: does the killer remain unknown to the readers as well as all characters in the book?

    If I use the girl's PoV it would be completely unknown to who the killer would be, but nevertheless it is important to rule out some characters. (if the readers go all Detective Gagdet)
     
  6. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the previous posters said it well. Write the story first. And as a side-project, study the prologues of books you've appreciated, notice how they did it. Figure out what you can learn from them and apply that on your own prologue.
     
  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I can only relate my own experience. I fussed and mussed with my opening chapter, and with a dozen chapters that took place earlier in the story but which I wanted to use, not just make revealing references to.

    I ended up writing the chapters as stand alone events and about half way through, organizing it all came together, including the first chapter that starts out 7 years before the main story. It needed to be written for that to have happened.

    It didn't matter I had a rough draft of both books in the duology written fully out. I had to get to the details before I could make decisions about that most important first chapter.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you are choosing to tell the story from the girl's viewpoint, don't start out by chaeating with a reveal of what that character will never discover. It probably means you've made the wrong POV choice for your story.

    Always question your reasons for a prologue. If you need to step outside the story, particularly before you've even begun the story, that should be a huge, flashing red alert, howling sirens and all.

    If you delay entry into a story, have a damned good reason for doing so. A prologue is such a delay. Most stories with prologues flow better without them.
     
  9. Albirich
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    Albirich Active Member

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    I get that, but both the girl's death is important and the death of this powerful man. They both serve a very important cause to two different PoV characters tied to them. The only way for me to give the reader both fates is to use the minor antagonist, but that ruins the mystery about it all. But I think it'd be weird if we see the prologue and the girl dies, then in the next few chapters another man that we had no information about in the prologue also died. (The girl and the powerful man's deaths are not related)
     
  10. GingerCoffee
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    All the more reason to write the chapters and then figure it out. Write what you envision with the knowledge you can change it, adjust it, tweak it.
     
  11. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would say put the prologue aside - and seriously consider if you should use one. You stated it takes place one day before the first chapter, and that's not really a long enough time span to use a prologue. Typically these take place a long time before the start of the central story. Without actually reading it, it sounds to me (and I'm no enemy of prologues) that this is something that could (and maybe should) go into the first chapter(s) rather than separately.
     
  12. Albirich
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    Albirich Active Member

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    Yeah, problem is the prologue character is either an antagonist or a girl that dies, which means that none of them would have more than that one chapter. To me that seems weird to have?
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If these two deaths are important, that importance will reveal itself through the story. There is no need, or benefit, in laying it out to the reader from the outset.

    And to say "the only way..." means you have already closed off your imagination. There are always many ways.
     
  14. EllBeEss
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    It seems that creating the deaths of these characters then later showing how your character is involved/affected seems like a waste when you could immediately show how your character reacts or whatever. If the prologue is giving you trouble just move on to the story. Once you get into the story chance are you'll see if a prologue is necessary and how it needs to play out.

    If you're aiming for mystery then don't spoil it by explaining everything on the first page.
     
  15. Aurin
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    I'd write the whole novel then go back and write the prologue, which is what I've done.

    The only reason why I have a prologue in the first place is because of the timeline (takes place 12 years before the events of the novel and gives food-for-thought for the reader about the antagonist) - if it could fit in within the events of the novel I would include it later and remove the prologue.
     
  16. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Doesn't seem weird to me. Characters appear and disappear according to the needs of the story. They don't even have to have a full chapter. Give them the space they require - nothing more, nothing less.
     
  17. A.M.P.
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    Don't dawdle too long in worrying about the prologue,
    the correct PoV and reveal can be revealed as you write further down.

    Only thing, there are possibly other ways to demonstrate the burning or the dying in one way or another through one of the MCs PoVs whether trough reflection or dialogue or something.

    I'd personally think the girl burning sets a tone better than someone getting killed.
    The latter can easily be interjected elsewhere in the story.
     
  18. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Write any old prolog. Don't sweat it. Chances are you'll delete it when you get to the editing phase. Or if you don't, you should have. Then, if a prologue is really needed, you then know (and can write) the prolog that's needed.
     
  19. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    You have to write it the way that makes you happy, and a prologue can work if done very well. Just keep in mind that a certain percentage of readers will skip a prologue altogether, so if there is something really important there, they are going to miss it. You might say it is their own fault, but that doesn't help when they're leaving reviews or comments about the book online.
     
  20. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personally, I don't think a good prologue has something that will 'harm' the story if it's not read (although I don't think authors should even worry about readers who just skip them); rather, a good prologue will enhance the story in some way. So readers who skip them will still enjoy the story, but not as much or in the same way as the readers who didn't skip it.
     
  21. ChickenFreak
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    I would skip the prologue, let the girl's death be in the past of the story, and let her killer be a mystery as long as it's a mystery to the characters. IMO, knowing huge facts that the primary viewpoint character(s) don't know distances you from those characters and drains a lot of life and interest out of a book. It feels like you're watching ants run around in an ant farm, rather than joining them in the adventure.
     
  22. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    On the other hand (there's always an other hand, isn't there? :D), knowing something the characters don't can have you on the edge of your seat wondering when they're going to get hit over the head with it.
     
  23. Albirich
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    The girl's death is all open public, she is being marked as a witch, so that is no mystery.
    The other character that dies in the same timespan as in the prologue is the Lord of the most powerful house in the Western Kingdom, we are told of his death by his son's PoV as one of the first chapters. This is how I've decided to do it, I really don't agree with the prologue not having a part in the story, only if it is not done "correctly" ---THIS IS MY OPINION, those who would skip my prologue would miss a part of a minor plot, and lose a very small part of a character's developments throughout the story.
     
  24. JayG
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    It sounds like you're thinking in terms of story, and educating your reader on the plot details. If so, stop, because readers are seeking entertainment first, and will turn and run as soon as they encounter something that reads like a history lesson.

    If it matters to have the reader "see" the death, show it through the perceptions of someone emotionally involved, and show it as they see it, not as a record of what was seen. That means emotional reactions, speculation, decisions, etc. You might look at how often, in that genre, such a prologue is shown. In mysteries, for example, there's often a prolog showing the crime taking place. If you see none...
     
  25. Albirich
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    Albirich Active Member

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    what I did with the girl's death is lot of emotion and regret (we see it through her eyes till she is eventually burned.) She had a strong father-daughter relationship with one of the PoV characters. It was her own fault for getting caught, and before she gets burned she is full of regrets and thinks about this other PoV character.
    This other PoV character that was the father of the daughter-father relationship is one of the main characters and he too thinks a lot about her, which makes the prologue kind of important in terms of the emotion and character development. Just because of her, his true identity is revealed and thus he must escape and run for his life, that is a very short description of his story. I did a twist because normally the story would be that he would go for revenge etc. Instead because of the girl's mistake she ruins everything he had worked for. --That is as far as my description goes.

    I got it figured out though, I'll do as I wrote before and it will work out as what I wrote above.
     

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