1. Rayhne
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    Rayhne New Member

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    Prologue or no?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Rayhne, Jun 26, 2016.

    So my main character (Rayhne) has no memory of her childhood before she was 11.

    Right now I have the story starting off Chapter 1 with her using the full moon's powers to get some of her memory back. The readers know that she has gotten something but it is like a dream and fades really fast.

    So my question is: Should I do a prologue where I actually show what memory she pulled? It is the memory that started it all so it would be useful. However I do not wish to start the first chapter with it because it takes away from Rayhne's terror. So prologue or no?
     
  2. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I do like prologues, when they are appropriate. It all depends on what your readers need to know at the start of your story.

    If you're not sure, I would just carry on to Chapter 2, etc. Later, after you've finished, then look back and see what you think. Give your story to a couple other people to read. If they feed back to you that they need to know more at the start, then write a prologue.

    My own feeling is to not worry too much at this stage. Get your story down so you can see what it looks like. It may look a lot different once you have it written than what you think it's going to look like when you're just starting.

    I think you should ask yourself this question, though. Do you want the story to be about Rayhne discovering what her past terror was, or do you want it to be about her coping with her past terror?

    If it's about the reader discovering the truth along with Raynhe—and once she discovers the truth, the story is more or less over—you probably should keep it a mystery.

    If you want the reader to follow her progress in dealing with her past, however, then maybe letting the reader in on the secret early is a good idea. Raynhe can be in the dark about it herself, but if the reader knows what happened, the reader will be waiting for the 'truth' to come out. That's the way soap operas create suspense (successfully.) They show the audience something that is a secret from all the characters in the soap—except perhaps a chosen few—and the reader suspense comes while waiting for the truth to finally be discovered by all the other characters.

    Be careful about making readers wonder about stuff they should actually know. That can lead to confusion, irritation and ultimate disappointment if the 'big reveal' isn't anything all that hot.
     
  3. Rayhne
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    Rayhne New Member

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    Thank you so much!
     
  4. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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  5. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm on the other side of the "issue" from @jannert (I usually don't like prologues) but I agree that they should be included or not based on the role they'd play in the story. The reason I don't generally like them is that they're too often info-dumps of backstory I either don't need to know or that would be more effectively presented if it were doled out on a need-to-know basis. So in that situation, looking at the role they play in the story, I think they're a bad idea. But that doesn't mean they're ALWAYS a bad idea. Think about your own story and how you want readers to experience it, and go from there.
     
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  6. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    In your situation I would say no, this would be a bad reason to use a prologue. Rayhne doesn't know what she experienced, so let us discover it with her.
     
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  7. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is presupposing a close third or first person single-character POV though, right? If a different POV is used, it can sometimes be effective for the reader to know more than the character does. We can worry for her, get frustrated at her, etc., all based on our superior knowledge!
     
  8. Rayhne
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    Rayhne New Member

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    Right, I do feel the readers should know this information because it will give them insight on how the other character's are acting when Rayhne doesn't know why they are acting like that. However it is in first person so I do not know.
     
  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    The prologue wouldn't have to be in first person, of course.

    Otherwise? I don't know. Do you want the readers to be confused and struggling along with your MC, or do you want them to be a little more removed, cheering for her from a bit of a distance?
     
  10. Rayhne
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    Rayhne New Member

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    Well what she remembered has to be revealed sometime, and if it isn't there then I do not know how else I can fit it in, because I can not exactly make one of her sisters come in and tell her that info. Not because I can't. More because the situation would be worse if they were talking about it, and only her family knows right now.

    Would there be another way throughout the story, or should I just make it a flashback? :/
     
  11. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    My personal preference is for this kind of thing to be revealed in little bits, not one big conversation. Like, space it out and make the reader put the clues together.

    But I have no idea if that would work for your story.
     
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  12. Rayhne
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    Rayhne New Member

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    I think it will! Thank you
     
  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Absolutely, absolutely confused along with the MC. If the reader knows everything, you place them at a lofty overhead position, and limit their sense of mystery and discovery. Mystery and discovery are a joy. And I absolutely don't want insight into why the other characters are acting a particular way.
     
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  14. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    At the same time, this can be taken too far. The characters could be acting in a manner that makes absolutely no sense without the reader knowing what is going on.
     
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  15. DeadMoon
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    DeadMoon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like a good prologue. And never did see how some people say to never have one. The worst reason I heard in this regard is that the reader will read the prologue and be forced to re-start the story at chapter one.... BS I say. bring on the wine and extra words :read:
     
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  16. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't see why that's bad. If the reader trusts the author, then they believe in the world, including the people who are behaving in inexplicable ways. The reader will be eager to find out the reason for those behaviors.
     
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  17. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    However, what if the point of the story isn't solving a mystery, but watching how the MC is affected by what happened to her, and wondering how her past is going to impact on her life within the story?

    Creating a mystery is not a bad thing to do, and discovery is a joy indeed, but it does affect how the reader looks at your story. If you create a mystery at the start, the point of your story will be creating the Big Reveal and solving the mystery. If the reader doesn't know why a character is behaving strangely, they will happily gallop along to find out why.

    However, if the reader DOES know why the character is behaving strangely, then they will be watching to see how the MC gets on, and will worry about what happens if she can't cope, or does the wrong thing. Or maybe worry about what will happen when other characters find out the truth about her, or if her past trauma is likely to repeat itself, etc.

    Just an example. If the big trauma is that the character was raped by her brother when she was a little girl, and doesn't remember it, then we can wonder all through the story what has caused her to feel weird about sex, etc. Or maybe what makes her not like her brother very much, even though he is kind to her and seems concerned about her. Once we discover what happened, then we understand.

    However, if we see the scene where he rapes her, then move ahead to her as an adult with the problems this rape has left her, then we know why she has trouble with sex—even though she doesn't herself. We cringe every time her sexual partner does a similar thing to her that her brother did, and watch her trying hard to please him while at the same time wanting to be somewhere else. And then when her adult brother gets her alone in a situation where she's more or less stuck with him, the suspense becomes unbearable for the reader. Even if the MC is finally beginning to relax around her brother, respond to his kindnesses, and decide that he's not so horrible after all.

    There is no right way or wrong way to approach the story's beginning. Only be conscious that your start will affect what the reader thinks about as they read.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2016
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