1. SwampDog
    Offline

    SwampDog Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2013
    Messages:
    409
    Likes Received:
    108
    Location:
    Back in Blighty

    Prologue question before rehashing...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by SwampDog, Dec 10, 2014.

    My MC is a victim of circumstances and contributes to getting caught up in a murder on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. He is then attacked by the murderer and suffers serious injuries during a vicious fight. The murderer escapes. The murder is translated into an accident by the service authorities, and this leaves the MC helpless.

    Ten years later, back in civvy street, physically and emotionally scarred, he starts to uncover troublesome clues locally which brings him in due course face-to-face again with the murderer.

    Would the whole flighdeck scene (set in Hong Kong harbour) hit it off as a prologue (already written and comparable to a full chapter), or bring in the background as periodic flashbacks?

    As there is much discourse on the efficacy of prologues, it's left me unsure. I like the idea of a hard-hitting opener, but prologue/chapter 1/flashback...?

    Thanks for consideration.
     
  2. Selbbin
    Online

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    3,246
    Likes Received:
    1,811
    Location:
    Australia
    No prologue. Keep as a mystery as the story unravels. Let us find out, and better, want to find out, what happened and why. This could either be through flashbacks or simply interactions with other characters. Maybe start off with the basics, even seeing a shrink about PTSD or telling someone about how he got his scars, maybe another ex-serviceman in a bar.

    In conclusion, my advice: Show those physical and emotional scars FIRST and then fill in the reasons, along with or before the clues start leading him to the killer.
     
    EdFromNY and peachalulu like this.
  3. SwampDog
    Offline

    SwampDog Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2013
    Messages:
    409
    Likes Received:
    108
    Location:
    Back in Blighty
    Many thanks. Hadn't thought of it that way.
     
  4. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,809
    Likes Received:
    7,333
    Location:
    Scotland
    Well, I'd say it depends on what you want your story to feel like.

    If you want your readers to experience tension waiting for your MC to come face to face once again with an evil character we have also met before, then use the Prologue as you've written it.

    If you want us to not have any notion of what the MC is up against, and the whole thing is a whodunnit mystery for us, then don't use the prologue. Just drip-feed the details. However, you will need to either create an unreliable narrator (the POV character knows something he's not telling us) or you'll need to let us see a fair amount of the flashback fairly early on.

    There is nothing inherently right or wrong about these kinds of 'flashback' prologues. It's all down to the effect you want to create in your readers. If you want them to know what the MC knows right at the start, then use one. The MC can then be honest and reveal all his thoughts about the situation. If you don't, and want the readers to guess what's happening ...then don't.

    Both approaches can work, but they do have entirely different effects.

    Think of the TV shows that contain mysteries. The ones like Columbo always began with a prologue of sorts, so that that we knew who the murderer was -- and how the murder was committed. The show's tension came from us waiting to see how Columbo discovered the murderer and how the deed was done. Other murder mystery shows, like The Mentalist, begin with the discovery of 'the body' and we are as much in the dark as the detective who tries to solve the mystery.

    It all depends on the reader experience you're wanting to create.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2014
    EdFromNY, tonguetied and peachalulu like this.
  5. SwampDog
    Offline

    SwampDog Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2013
    Messages:
    409
    Likes Received:
    108
    Location:
    Back in Blighty
    Thanks, peeps. Both under active consideration. Either way, quite some re-writing to do!
     

Share This Page