1. ParanormalWriter
    Offline

    ParanormalWriter Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Messages:
    217
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    USA

    Prologues: yes or no?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by ParanormalWriter, Aug 13, 2008.

    Well, look at me. I'm just full of questions tonight. ;) Here's another topic. Prologues. I enjoy them myself, as long as they have a purpose for the story and aren't just thrown in for no reason. I've noticed a lot of writers have a general prejudice against them though. So, what do you guys think?

    To prologue or not to prologue?

    How often do you use them in your writing?

    Do they annoy you in other's writing?

    If yes, what annoys you the most?

    What do you think goes into a good prologue?
     
  2. Kratos
    Offline

    Kratos Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2008
    Messages:
    791
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Maryland, United States
    To prologue or not to prologue?
    -If it's necessary.

    How often do you use them in your writing?
    -I usually have them. I use them basically to show and event that happened ten years before the story.

    Do they annoy you in other's writing?
    -Nope, unless they're info dumps.

    If yes, what annoys you the most?
    -If they're info dumps.

    What do you think goes into a good prologue?
    -The same as any chapter; if it's interesting.
     
  3. Nilfiry
    Offline

    Nilfiry Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    Messages:
    670
    Likes Received:
    81
    Location:
    Eternal Stream
    To prologue or not to prologue?

    Prologues aren't really effective for a novel since the same information can be given throughtout the story as needed; they're better for plays, but there are exceptions.

    How often do you use them in your writing?

    Not often. Although, in my current project, I write in italics a one page background of the continent in which the story takes place in relation to the story at the beginning of all the novels of the series. When added together, it forms another story about the continent.

    Do they annoy you in other's writing?

    No as long as it serves some pivitol point and is not constantly repeated in the actual story.

    What do you think goes into a good prologue?

    Umm... all the things needed to create a good setting for your story.
     
  4. SunnyRabbiera
    Offline

    SunnyRabbiera Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2008
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    0
    I usually use prologues as a springboard to a new universe I am creating to give a bit of a backstory to it.
    Sometimes its best to do one to get the ball rolling.
     
  5. TWErvin2
    Offline

    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,529
    Likes Received:
    561
    Location:
    Ohio, USA
    If a prologue is backstory, or a history lesson mainly intended to get the reader "up to speed", I'd have to say not to the prologue.

    Without an anchor or something to tie the characters, setting, history to, the prologue doesn't work that well. The writer thinks it's important, but not to the reader. Better to sprinkle the vital points of the backstory/history/culture or whatever into the story as needed...not an infodump start.

    Do they (prologues) work? Yes, if done well, they're as brief as possible, and they serve a specific purpose, usually other than what's described above.

    Terry
     
  6. DarkMaiden273
    Offline

    DarkMaiden273 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2008
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Dancing under the moon.
    I use them in my stories and enjoy and encourage them in others but I think that a rule should exist stating that prologues should not be longer than at least the first chapter if longer than any. When a prologue is extremely long I always just skip it. Also if it's too long it's more of a hindrance to the story than a help!
     
  7. Last1Left
    Offline

    Last1Left Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    Messages:
    127
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    You know that box next to the Wendy's?
    I think prologues have generally degenerated into info dumps over time. I like prologues that offer an action scene or something interesting, which is later somehow relevant to the plot. Personally, I never use them because I find it's too easy to abuse them (just like drugs, kids ;) )
     
  8. Popsicle.culture
    Offline

    Popsicle.culture Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2008
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0
    I don't use prologues so much, mostly because I usually feel as if I can cover everything I need to within a novel.

    On that vein, does anyone use Epilogues, or think they're cheesy?
     
  9. Charisma
    Offline

    Charisma Transposon Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2007
    Messages:
    2,704
    Likes Received:
    142
    Location:
    Lahore, Pakistan
    To prologue or not to prologue?
    Depends.

    How often do you use them in your writing?
    Hmm, I've written about 20 short stories and 4 novels. None have used a prologue, really. Just a recent 5th novel has one.

    Do they annoy you in other's writing?
    Never read 'em. Though when I have, most of the times they were fun.

    If yes, what annoys you the most?
    Pointless vagueness. There has to be vagueness, but it should be compelling and not just whispers in the air.

    What do you think goes into a good prologue?
    Suspense building, information about what the story's going to be like, and of course, tackling with emotions.
     
  10. SunnyRabbiera
    Offline

    SunnyRabbiera Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2008
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    0
    well in my case the history of the world they live in is what leads to the characters being who they are.
     
  11. Sister Sinister
    Offline

    Sister Sinister New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2008
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    To prologue or not to progloge?--
    I myself love prologues.
    If they're well written, atleast.
    It keeps you wondering what's going on, and that you want to read the whole novel just to know.

    How often do you prologues in your writing?-
    A lot.
    It depends whether or not it's suspenceful, or horrific.
    If it's just some random piece thrown together, or something with a more interesting side-- I don't put them in. (Which is rare lately.)

    Do they annoy you in other's writing?--
    If it's horribly written, bland, and boring, yes. Very muchly so.

    What do you think goes into a good prologue?--
    Detail. Enough detail, at least.
    And something interesting, but doesn't give too much away on what's happening.
    Or anything at all way.
     
  12. FantasyWitch
    Offline

    FantasyWitch Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    403
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Scotland
    We have had this discussion on the forum before.

    The thing about prologues is they must be writenb correctly, be interesting and be (much like chapter one) the hook to catch the fish (or the reader. lol). If it is lame and basically an info dump then its not required.

    It is sad so many publishers allow bad prologues to be published with good books. It makes me narky...
     
  13. Ungood
    Offline

    Ungood Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2008
    Messages:
    790
    Likes Received:
    6
    Prolouges: I don't read them unless I have to. And the only way I am going to "Have" to read it is if it is a means to give me the heads up on the background type deal. IE: You stumped me someplace in the story and now I am going to the Prologue expecting an info dump.

    If it is "Chapter 1" type stuff I am going to be wonder "Well why didn't you just put it in chapter one?" Why the prologue to start with.

    I'll be even more annoyed if it does not answer the question I have that forced me to go read it.

    But that is the way I look at them.

    Please to note:
    a Prologue by inception and original concept is the "Set Up" the "before the story" type deal. IE: "A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away..."

    So in that front, I would say... does your story need it?
     
  14. TWErvin2
    Offline

    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,529
    Likes Received:
    561
    Location:
    Ohio, USA
    Is front-loading the information about what leads the characters into being what they are necessary? That is the question.

    +=================+++================+

    An additional observation about prologues:

    Often a writer has a very detailed world in mind with many nuances and intricacies and colorful history. However, 90% (maybe even more) of the research and background information/history for a novel will never grace its pages. The hard truth is, nobody cares as much about the novel, characters, history, plot--etc. as the writer himself. Not his mother, best friend, spouse, editor, agent, publisher, biggest fan. Okay, maybe a deranged fan:)

    A prologue is a quick and easy way to slide in much of that 'world' and 'why it is that way' information. I honestly believe it is much better to sprinkle in the information about a character, city, political structure, etc. as needed in the novel. When the information is provided to the reader within the context and the action of a story, it makes much more sense to the reader, and sticks, rather than something they read about in the prologue 80 or 100 pages ago.

    Just an additional thought or two on the topic.

    Terry
     
  15. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I am completely in agreement with Terry on this. A prologue to ste the reader up with backstory is a bad idea. Never feed a reader with a shovel. Tantalizing teaspoonfuls are far better. They keep the reader wondering, and guessing, and actively involved in the story.

    The novel I am working on does utilize a prologue, but what it does, or intends to do, is give the reader a taste of the middle of the story, the end of an extraordinarily long life, before going to the character's early days in Chapter 1. It purposely gives very few answers and raises many questions for the reader.

    But a prologue as an infodump? Treat it as a virulent contagion. Burn it to ashes, and bury the ashes. Then burn the burial site.
     
  16. SunnyRabbiera
    Offline

    SunnyRabbiera Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2008
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well when using a comic book like format it is pretty important to have a lead up, a lot of my stories have a lot in common with the comic book approach.
     
  17. tehuti88
    Offline

    tehuti88 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    Messages:
    642
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Michigan
    To prologue or not to prologue?

    If they're needed, yes. If not, then no. It depends on the story and the writer and their style.

    How often do you use them in your writing?

    I use them often. Not always (my serials don't use them), but a lot (my novels do).

    Do they annoy you in other's writing?

    No, and I fail to see why they should, honestly!

    If yes, what annoys you the most?

    NA.

    What do you think goes into a good prologue?

    Well...whatever needs to?

    I use my own prologues as a way to set up the story in a way that the first chapter can't; sort of like the "teaser" of a TV show, the first few minutes that occur before it goes to the theme song and commercials. I view that as the best and primary use for a prologue (I can't think of why to include one, otherwise), though I'm sure they're used for other things. My prologues, for example, are often flashback sequences not set during the actual story but which help set up the plot, why things happen. Think of the beginning of Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade (River Phoenix's part) and you should get my meaning.

    I'm always mystified when people say they don't read prologues. Seeing as my prologues are just like the chapters themselves, people who skip reading them are missing out on important information. I wouldn't include the prologue if it wasn't meant to be read as much as the story. To me, saying, "I don't read prologues" is like saying, "I don't read Chapter 5." :confused: I think such readers have become biased due to a few amateur writers' misuse of the prologue (as an info dump or sort of "author's note"), so now they make themselves miss out on others' work. Very unfortunate IMO.
     
  18. Silver Random
    Offline

    Silver Random Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2008
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Scotland
    To prologue or not to prologue?

    Yes, Prologues are usually interesting and a good way to start a novel. Obviously if there is nothing to put in one, you shouldnt try to force it, and a book can still be fine without one, but nearly all the time there is a Prologue it works.

    How often do you use them in your writing?

    More often than not, though recently i've started not having them simply because i didnt have anything i wanted to put in one.

    Do they annoy you in other's writing?

    No (or i cant remember any that did anyway)

    If yes, what annoys you the most?

    N/A

    What do you think goes into a good prologue?

    Something interesting that happens before the main events. Often it is best used to include the villains, as the rest of the events will be focused aroung the main protagonists.
     
  19. Acglaphotis
    Offline

    Acglaphotis Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2008
    Messages:
    912
    Likes Received:
    3
    To prologue or not to prologue?

    Depends on the writer. It's up to you.

    How often do you use them in your writing?

    I don't... I tell most of the necessary backstory through dialogue or such devices.

    Do they annoy you in other's writing?


    No, I like them very much when they weren't written by me.

    What do you think goes into a good prologue?

    Backstory, and some mild-character development. A glimpse of the full person in the story. That's just me, though.
     
  20. Jovian Temptations
    Offline

    Jovian Temptations Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2008
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    To prologue or not to prologue?
    -- If it's needed?
    How often do you use them in your writing?
    -- Only sometimes. Usually when I have an important event that takes place at some time before the beginning of the story, I'll write one.
    Do they annoy you in other's writing?
    -- Only if they're poorly written.
    If yes, what annoys you the most?
    -- Friggin' cryptic prologues that don't make any sense.
    What do you think goes into a good prologue?
    -- A perfect mixture of cryptic and actual explanation. I don't want a prologue that tells me everything; I want a prologue that's going to be mystic enough to make me want to read the book to find out what the prologue was talking about.
     
  21. TwinPanther13
    Offline

    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2008
    Messages:
    407
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Dallas
    One of my favorite authors, R.A. Salvatore does what cogito said with his prologues sometimes. In the prologue he basically told something about the character in the middle of the novel. He told it as if he were someone describing the scene from a movie.

    Later in the novel where we got to the point the action sequence happened everything was more detailed. It gave it to you from a spectator pov this time and it was more awesome then the prologue.

    In that instance I really liked his prologue it hooked me.

    Something else he used to do in his novels that I liked was give a prologue for each chapter. It would be Italicized like the MC was writting in a diary. It would hook you into what was about to happen with a few nuggets but never gave you the whole thing. Sometimes he even opened chapters with a poem that relates to the chapter

    It was that little bit of flair that made me really like the guy.
     
  22. Ungood
    Offline

    Ungood Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2008
    Messages:
    790
    Likes Received:
    6
    I guess that makes sense as I would fly past the Chapter Prologues by R.A. Salvatore as well, seems I just don't like them for some reason or another.

    America the democratic experiment did the same thing to me... messed me up right and fully because I read the prologue (it was for college) and then when I read the chapter it just felt like a rehash... a really long drawn out rehash, of the prolouge.

    Man I hated that.

    But in the end each reader and write will have their own style. Something the OP should take into consideration.

    IF you Prologue, only the people that like them will read them, and then they better be good.
     
  23. DarkMaiden273
    Offline

    DarkMaiden273 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2008
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Dancing under the moon.
    I also love R.A. Salvatore. Am currently reading Silent Blade. His prologues also hook me into reading the book and even faster than I normally would. I think Stephenie Meyer is also good at her's. Short, sweet and hooks you.
     
  24. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i usually counsel new writers to 'not'... the thing is, most prologues aren't really needed, but it seems the majority of beginning writers somehow got the idea that they're a standard part of a novel, when in fact, they're not... imo, a writer is justified in including one only if the narrator, a character, or a historical/prior event relating to the novel's storyline/plot must be made known to the readers before they get dropped into the story...

    never did, probably never would...

    in amateurs'/beginners writing, usually yes... in pros' work, when done for good reason, no...

    the lack of necessity and the fact that most are nothing more than poorly done info dumps...

    see above...
     
  25. Islander
    Offline

    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Sweden
    I do find most prologues boring, and they also break my suspense of disbelief a little. They remind me that I'm just reading a book. The prologue to Lord of the Rings, for example, was a pain to go through. I don't need to know how halflings use tobacco to understand the story!

    Alfred Bester's "The Stars My Destination" (also known as "Tiger, tiger!") contained one of the few prologues I've enjoyed. It was a short, funny story about how teleportation was discovered. Now when I think back to it, I realise it was also important for the reader's understanding of the book, since the way teleportation works affects the plot in it.
     

Share This Page