1. Edge
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    Edge Member

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    Prologue

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Edge, May 1, 2009.

    I have looked at a lot of prologues here, and I have noticed some people using a prologue as…well a first chapter, Introducing characters, starting the story. I have always used the prologue as a hook, something to get the reader hooked, a cliffhanger. I don't like to intro the characters, until the first chapter, I don't even give the people in the prologue names.

    Am I wrong?
     
  2. A2theDre
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    A2theDre Active Member

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    I always wondered what the technical difference is between a prologue and a first chapter. I do agree that a prologue shouldn't have character introduction included.

    Wouldn't it be more to create a setting for your story? Like a bit of knowledge that a reader needs to have the story....... fit.
     
  3. Edge
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    I agree to a point, a well done prologue can serve to peak the readers intrest.
     
  4. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Prologues originated in theater . . . specifically Greek theater. Usually, an actor playing a God would take the stage and tell the audience, in entertaining prose, the bare essentials of information needed so the opening of the play would "work".

    As time went on, the prologue entered literature and was used to "hook" the interest of a potential reader...someone who was browsing the book and the author wanted to entice into buying and/or reading the book. Its form most often consisted of a three to five paragraph excerpt from the book, selected for its compelling dialog or action. And, it intended to leave the reader wanting to know more about the plot, the character or the scene from which it was borrowed.

    Today's "prologue" seems to have become a crutch for many writers as it is misused as a mechanism to provide back story, plot synopsis (without revealing the ending - hence, the "hook") or character development in hope of capturing the interest of the reader. Unfortunately, these uses of a "prologue" reflect weak writing, rather than the hoped-for stimulus that transforms a browser into a reader.

    I am a big fan of the traditional prologue-hook but contemptuous of the modern day writing crutch that the prologue has become.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The best prologues, in my opinion, explain nothing. They pique the reader's interest by raising questions for the reader.

    However, most of the time you are better off with no prologue at all. (again, my opinion)
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's no 'right' or 'wrong' about what should/shouldn't be in a prologue... there's only what works and what doesn't...

    and, as has been said by many, most prologues aren't really needed...
     
  7. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    A prologue, as far as I have seen, has always been a bit of information about a character who is NOT the main character; or a scene about the character when he is a child, even though throughout the story he is an adult; or information about the planet in general, whether it be a war or segregation or other pertinent information.

    To just START the story off in a 'prologue' just sounds like a first chapter, to me.
     
  8. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    An interesting study would be to see how many people actually read the prologue. I honestly think it's a total waste of time/energy to write a prologue. Focus should be spent on more important matters. I only read prologues if they are 1 page. So never.
     
  9. Edge
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    I disagree. Until I started writing, I rarely read a prologue; I would always start with the first chapter. But that has had its drawbacks, I can't count the number of books I have put down because the first chapter was, as it is in most books, dry and boring. I have picked up those books recently, read them and found out they were good books, and they had a well written and exciting prologue, if I had just read that to begin with, well I would have read it all the first time.
     
  10. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Agreed. I hate prologues, myself, unless they're very short. In depth stuff should be part of the main story.

    Love or hate Stephenie Meyer, she used prologues to good effect--to pique the interest of the (potential) reader. They were short and gave a glimpse of an intense section of the story.
     
  11. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have always worried about the "Prologue". My novel has one written into is at the moment, simply because of the following reasons (corly, but not just)

    So, not that it means anything. But it was good to read the reason im having one, is mentioned from a few "opinions on how one could work" Made my day some what.

    The reason it have been worried because, having a story with a lame, poor start is one thing. Having a poor, lame prologue is even worse. Or i think anyway.
     
  12. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    I use prologues to briefly explain the setting. Everything else is explained in the story - characters' opinions, their personalities, words people are unfamiliar with (there are a lot of those in my stories), and characters' appearances.
     

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