1. fantasy girl
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    fantasy girl Contributing Member

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    prologue help

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by fantasy girl, Jun 4, 2009.

    Right, I am about to start writing what I am hoping to be my first novel. it is about the Conflict Diamond Trade that is going on in South Africa.

    my question is about the prologue though. is it alright to make the prologue a diary entry??? i think it would be better this way as the information givrn is important to the plot but the way I want to write it, I would class it as info-dump if I don't.

    So another question. If I shouldn't write it as a diary entry how should I write it?

    If I'm not making any sence, please tell me!
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    My recommendation would be not to write a prologue at all.
     
  3. SingToMeMuse
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    SingToMeMuse Member

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    A journal entry as a prologue sounds like a great idea. The only advice I would give is to keep it as short as necessary. As a reader, if I see a prologue that is overly long I flat out will not read it. I enjoy short prologues that wet my appetite for the novel, but if it just goes on and on it's such a turn off. Any prologues I put in my novels I keep them to at least a two page minimum...but that's just me.
     
  4. fantasy girl
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    fantasy girl Contributing Member

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    thanks STMM and Cogito, I feel the prologue is nesesary so I will have it in as it is a glimps of the future but not included in the story as it is from MC POV and the story isn't.
     
  5. design007
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    design007 Member

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    Prologue

    :)Hi fantasy girl--

    Prologues can be interesting, if done right. The trick lies in how well you write the first paragraph of your story. You may find you won't need it all. Sounds like you may be chomping at the bit a little. I'd wait and see if you need it at all. If you do, and you just can't live without it, well then--write away! And good luck!
     
  6. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't usually write prologues. They can be very good introductions, and as you should know the introduction is the most important part of a story, unless the plot or characters are almost flawless. But they can also wreck your introduction and your book won't have a chance.

    So tread carefully.
     
  7. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    Your story takes place in the here and now, right? Then you don't need a scene-setting prologue. People can look it up. If you honestly need to dump backstory, have a character explain it to someone else, or have them think about it at some point. But it's a current, up-to-date story taking place on good old earth. You don't need to fill us in on the hows, whys and whos. That will become apparent while reading the actual story.
     
  8. fantasy girl
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    fantasy girl Contributing Member

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    thanks all of you, I will take all this into concideration.
     
  9. Carbon
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    Carbon Member

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    What's wrong with a prologue? I'll agree that not all stories are suited to have one, but they can be useful in setting the stage for the story and giving the reader a little bit of backround.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Most prologues are better off thrown in the trash, shredded, and burned. The most common use of a prologue is to lay out backstory - awful.

    Not all prologues are a disaster, but I generally advise leaving them out.
     
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  11. Atma
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    Atma Member

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    I would say leave the prologue out. Most people I know skip prologues and go to the first chapter. And don't bother calling it the first chapter to trick people :p They'll know after 3 sentences if it hooks them or not - make sure it hooks immediately. Not on page 2.
    If I read a prologue (if I ever can be bothered to read a book with one, that is) then I wouldn't remember all that blob of information i was given as an eager reader on the first page when I am supposed to remember it on page 25. Dont go around giving background info in the start and expect people to go "aahh so THATS what that means..." on page 40. When they have read to page forty, not many would care about the boring blob of text the had to sit through in the beginning.

    I would suggest drop-feeding the background, that's the way most people seem to like books - if you're after selling it at all, that is. If its just for your own fun and pleasure, write it backwards if you want. :)

    But no prologues, is the general rule of thumb methinks. No one likes them, even not the people who say they do - if they do, they're either being nice, or they are friends with the author, or the prologue is awesome and starts in a really compelling scene.
     
  12. Velvet Muse
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    Velvet Muse New Member

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    I am very wary of prologues, especially if it's in a fantasy novel (which yours isn't). I say, go ahead and write the prologue, just call it "Chapter One." To signify it is a diary entry, have your character sign it at the end. if you continue off in 3rd person afterwords, I'm pretty sure the ready will get the picture. I once had this trouble, but instead of a journal it was a letter.

    Velvet Muse
     
  13. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I feel like prologues are getting a bad rap here....
    They may not be chapter one, but if its what readers are reading first then you need to treat it as such (especially when it comes to submitting them to publishers). Don't tag it on as an afterthought, don't include it if it doesn't add to your story, don't feel like its any less important than the rest of your novel, and don't consider it to be something seperate.
    To provide a successful example, consider Donna Tartt's The Secret History. (Spoilers ahead, maybe)

    Her prologue opens with the sentence "The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeoks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation." Its gripping, well written, and introduces the plot. It is necessary as it is written froma time and place vastly removed from where the novel proper opens in Chapter One, it suggests events to come and introduces characters early on so that readers are propelled forward into the novel, but most importantly, it changes the way readers view the characters (especially Bunny) in light of the knowledge that they will eventually kill him.

    If you haven't read the novel, btw, go grab a copy, its amazing.....and its a perfect example of how to use a prologue effectively.
     
  14. Honorius
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    Honorius Active Member

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    "But the most effective prologues do one simple thing -- entice the reader to move on to chapter one"

    ~James Scott Bell

    The best prologues are ones that aren't info dumps, or ones that lay out a backround for the story. They're ones that show an enticing, captivating scene that involves the plot (not necessarily the characters) and hooks the reader. For instance, in Michael Chrichton's "Prey" the prologue is actually the final scene in the book. It sets up an image of the aftermath of the story but leaves the reader guessing on what actually happened.
     

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