1. Holden
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    Holden Senior Member

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    Prologue Needed?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Holden, Dec 27, 2010.

    I'm assuming this question is asked numerous times, but I'm curious.

    I have a story that involves the sinking a ship on the ocean floor, but with many of the passengers still alive (I won't bog you down with the logistics). The crash will be told from an omniscient narrators POV, examing many areas of the ship and the passengers. However, the later parts are told in 1st person from one of the passengers.

    Should the initial crash chapter be a prologue? My reasoning is that the POV is radically different and that it's more like background information (although not an infodump, in the true sense of the word).
     
  2. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    I would let the publisher worry about that. Their editors may have preferred ways of handling such situations. When the ms is handed over to them, just do what you feel most comfortable with and they'll advise you from there.

    If the work is not published by a mainstream publisher (ie you are blogging it) then, again, do what feels most comfortable to you. If the chapter is important, though, I would make it "Chapter 1". Calling it a prologue risks some readers skipping over it to get to the "real" start of the story.

    -Frank
     
  3. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Just out of interest, ever read James White's The Watch Below?
     
  4. Holden
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    Holden Senior Member

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    No, but after briefly reading about the plot, it seems I may have to shelve this idea. :(

    I'll have to add an interesting twist.
     
  5. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    Switching between 3rd and 1st person is a bit jarring, and considering the rest of the book is written from a single character's perspective, having the prologue from another character's wouldn't be much better.

    Given what you need, I would imagine that the best thing would be to introduce the setting impartially from the character's point of view.

    eg. A commissioned investigation would later conclude that several minor ruptures in the starboard side caused the vessel to take on water. They didn't feel "minor".
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it doesn't need to be a 'prologue'...

    the first chapter could be the sinking event and the next a time jump to what's going on down below... change of pov does not mean you have to start with a prologue, either...
     
  7. Sarah's Mom
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    Sarah's Mom Member

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    I think it can just be chapter 1, with no problem. Modern readers have encountered such before many times, trust them.
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I agree...no need for a prologue. I will sometimes skip prologues. More often, I'll just put the book back on the shelf. Not a fan.
     
  9. C. B. Carter
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    C. B. Carter Member

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    Hi Holden,

    It depends. You could use the prologue to prepare the reader for the point of view switch – many books introduce the antagonist in the prologue, allowing the bad-guy to pull the reader to the side and speak in his/her own words – it’s a powerful technique that introduces the reader to the dark side of the story and builds intrigue.

    I’m surprised you ‘shelved’ it. I thought the premise of the book sounded interesting.
     
  10. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    If you need a prologue you are probably doing something wrong. Prologues are nicities that should not be required reading.
     
  11. DukeRustfield
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    DukeRustfield New Member

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    Readers can generally keep up and put things together on their own without smashing them over the head with reference data. If you start off with people struggling on a ship that's taking on water, most readers probably aren't going to be like, "What the hell is going on? Boats are supposed to be above water, not below! This writer is an idiot!"

    A quote I like is from the director John Landis. He was of the opinion if you show it, you don't need to explain it. If an audience sees a 50 foot ant, bam, it's there. You don't have to explain it to death because there it is running after people and turning over trains.
     
  12. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Me too. I either skim or skip prologues.
     
  13. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    Prologues sort of weird me out. Why can't it just be chapter one? I always kind of dislike seeing a prologue. It gives me a feeling like, "why can't the story just start already? Do I really need to read this?"

    Maybe I'm just lazy but I'd prefer to just get on with it. And this is only my opinion but personally I wouldn't like the switch from 3rd person to 1st person. I really hate when novels switch point of view around a lot. But its your book, far be it for me to say you can't make it work.
     

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