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prologue - is it needed

Poll closed Apr 4, 2013.
  1. yes

    1 vote(s)
    3.8%
  2. no

    19 vote(s)
    73.1%
  3. kind of

    6 vote(s)
    23.1%
  1. BlackBird
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    BlackBird Member

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    Prologue - is it needed?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by BlackBird, Jan 4, 2013.

    I have tried, here and there when not working, to do stories.

    However, I usually end up getting screwed with the prologue

    Either I get stuck or it doesn't work with the chapters after.


    so is it needed?
     
  2. .Mark
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    .Mark Member

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    It's not something you need. And if you wanted it, it definitely doesn't have to be the first thing you write.
     
  3. creativevomit
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    creativevomit Member

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    No it's not needed at all. If adding a prologue won't benefit your story then don't. If it will the add one. I like reading prologues, but lots of books first chapter doubles as a prologue of sorts. It's all about what you feel your story needs and your style of writing.
     
  4. Mithrandir
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    Mithrandir Contributing Member

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    You don't need a prologue; you can have one if you want.
     
  5. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Agree with above - they aren't needed, any more than having 35 chapters is 'needed'. If the book calls for 35 chapters, then write 35 chapters. If the book is enhanced by having a prologue, then write it.
     
  6. SteveM
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    SteveM New Member

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    Hi, I am new here. Indeed, this is my first opinion.

    I can't see the need for a prologue, never have. If I am honest, and I am, I have always seen it as something from way back. I can't tell you why, just strikes me, it smarts of a Victorian novel. For sure, I know it isn't.
     
  7. Mithrandir
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    Mithrandir Contributing Member

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    In certain genre's, (sci-fi/fantasy) a prologue is an effective way to frame the rest of the story and establish some key moment in your fictional history. So I wouldn't say that all prologues are bad.
     
  8. Talmay
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    Talmay Member

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    I like prologues. To me, it gives a glimpse of the atmosphere of the story (unless you intend to mislead people) and a general consensus whether it's something I want to read. In my own writing I use it to give perspective to someone other than the main character, usually important -- but not essential -- to the plot. A way to identify and know that character before they appear and whose background isn't necessary to the main plot. That's my opinion, however. What do you think? Does it add anything? Set up the setting, the plot, a character?

    If you're doing it just to have one, then no, don't.
     
  9. alexa_
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    alexa_ Banned

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    to tell you the truth, sometimes i don't see the point of using the prologue. Usually, readers are bored with it. All the necessary information can be included in the main text.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Prologues are not "needed". Ideally, you should get right into the story (no prologue). You may want to put up a prologue to tease the reader, and to make the reader somewhat puzzled and quite curious. Whether it is worth delaying entry into the story is debatable. However, putting in a prologue to provide background information is invariably an awful idea.

    "But the reader needs this information to understand the story!"

    No, the reader does not, unless you have done a particularly atrocious job of writing the story. In general, you're better off keeping the reader a little off balance, with unanswered questions. Not thoroughly befuddled, but with enough questions to keep him or her reading on to find the answers.

    Most books that do have a prologue would be better without it. If you doubt that, the next few books you encouter that have a prologue, don't even look at the prologue until you have finished the book, and then go back and read the prologue. You'll undoubtedly discover you really didn't miss anything important.
     
  11. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    The great majority of prologues I've read were a definite enhancement to the main story. Whether one is needed/wanted depends entirely on the story and what the author wants to accomplish. Blanket statements condemning them should be looked at the same as any blanket statements about writing methods/conventions - with the ignore button close at hand.
     
  12. BallerGamer
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    BallerGamer Active Member

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    Yeah prologues are not necessary. In my story I didn't have a prologue, but as I kept looking it over I realized I needed one.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you should have added 'rarely' to the poll... that's what i would have selected, had the choices not been too restrictive...
     
  14. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or "sometimes" or "it depends" ;)
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Or better yet, dispense with the poll entirely. The why is for more important than the numbers.
     
  16. Perplexity
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    Perplexity Member

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    I'm new to posting here...but I'd say that prologue is something that should hook a reader in because of the fact that at the start of a novel characters need to develop before any real conflicts take place. (This is generally speaking.) It's not needed for a book to be successful, but it can be helpful to get a taste of what's to come before you go through the motions of introducing the base of the story.
     
  17. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Bearing in mind that the main character(s) may not (and many times don't) even appear in the prologue.
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's no need of a prologue to do that, perplexity... in fact, i don't know that many [any?] do... what prologues have you read that do this?... and why do you seem to think it can't be done in just the normal chapters of the book?...
     
  19. Perplexity
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    There's often quite a bit of foreshadowing in most of the prologues I've encountered....o_o
     
  20. afrodite7
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    afrodite7 Senior Member

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    -as said earlier,I think in sci-fi or fantasy is a good idea,ifyour story is neither ,I highly suggest not using one.though I like to use prologues, i actually fall into the box of people that just skip the,in my experience,they are usually a waste,however,I have read some where they were effective.I personally think sci fi is the best genre for this
     
  21. Kat Hawthorne
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    Kat Hawthorne Member

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    Personally, I feel that prologues tend to be a lazy way to "hook" a reader. They work sometimes, but if you have to depend on a prologue to gain your reader's interest, doesn't that say something about your actual story? Make your opening chapter - better yet, your opening paragraph - so freaking amazing your reader will have no choice but to continue. In the end, it is your story that needs to be amazing, not some fluff you add to the beginning. If at all possible, avoid them and make your story more interesting.

    And as a side note, while I don't write prologues at all, I asked and was told by an agent that often the prologue is not even read when a manuscript is up for consideration. Why? Because any relevant information should be in the story somewhere already, therefore rendering the prologue unnecessary. If your manuscript is under consideration, often the agent will request you send along the first ten pages (or more) of your story. I have been told that under no circumstances whatsoever should those first ten pages be a prologue - they should be the first ten of chapter one. So, you see, if you are depending on a prologue to help you progress your story, you will be unsuccessful when it comes to the publishing aspect.
    If the information within your prologue is that important, rename it to "Chapter One." Otherwise, I say skip it.
     
  22. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    There seem to be an awful lot of successful but apparenty 'lazy' writers out there then.

    "An agent" told you - not empirical evidence that most, indeed that many agents feel this way. As to the first ten pages, I have seen a variety of opinions on this on several different forums, so it's not an absolute either.

    Again - the number of authors who have been successfully published with prologues belies this assertion.

    Sorry, but no. A properly written prologue cannot be renamed "Chapter One". It is not the first chapter.
     
  23. dudlite
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    seems to me a prologue entirely depends on the story
     
  24. Kat Hawthorne
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    Kat Hawthorne Member

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    I'm not sure if it's kosher to do this, but I just did a really quick Google search of Agents who BLOG online, and quickly and easily found one on this subject (the very first one that came up, actually). Forgive me if it's against the rules to post outside links here, but what the hell, I'm so terribly good at doing things you are not supposed to do.
    Here is the link:
    http://misssnark.blogspot.ca/2006/01/pass-prologue.html

    And I was kind of joking about the "rename it Chapter One" thing. Obviously, the "sarcasm" font is not working today.
     
  25. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Again - one person, one opinion, and she states she hates prologues. And have you ever noticed that when people hate something, they're very vocal about it, but when it doesn't bother them, they aren't?
     

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