1. Posy
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    Posy New Member

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    Two prologues???

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Posy, Mar 25, 2009.

    Okay, I was brainstorming ideas and came up with a
    two plot story that will eventually merge to one plot.
    But then the thought happened... I need two prologues!

    Can that done? If it can, how?
    Do you like add prologue one then two,
    or do you just put them in the same prologue?
    I am so questioned...
     
  2. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Neil Gaiman had two prologues in Neverwhere, and I must admit, I'm not a fan of them.

    No reason why you shouldn't try them, I just see it as a waste to even have a prologue unless it develops the main character's persona. And most of the time prologues give away too much of the story by 'foreshadowing' and I for one like to be kept in the dark; I don't like books that foreshadow events as I end up guessing them anyway, so I like to be kept in the dark as much as possible. For me that is just more fun as the novel could go anywhere.
     
  3. Aeroflot
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    Aeroflot Senior Member

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    Well, yeah. Just write "First Prologue" over one and "Second" over the other.

    However you want to. You have to take the initiative with these types of questions. Don't ask how, just do it. If it works, then fine. If it doesn't, try again some other time.

    You're asking a question of style. You've got to write it how you like it. If you ask too many people, they're going to probably say no. But if you give someone a written book instead of an idea, and they read the book, they're not going to care whether the prologues are combined under one header "Prologue" or "First" and "Second." If they're like me, they probably won't even remember the prologue.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'd re-examine your "need" for a prologue. Most are completely unnecessary, especially if they are intended to present backstory.
     
  5. Vayda
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    Vayda Senior Member

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    I agree with Cogito, I'm not sure when you say you "need" two prologues at all. If you already have them written, I'd consider merging them or ditching them. If the two plots are intertwined, it can give too much away if you have a prologue. If they're not just intertwined, but, for example, two characters in the same world, same story, they know each other, etc., I would think about merging the prologues. It seems to me that prologues are best used when they give information that the reader needs but that isn't otherwise appropriate to introduce during the story. The best example I can think of is a prologue to introduce the world and the "rules" of a fantasy or science fiction story - The characters are already going to know that the dwarves live in the mountains, for example, but the reader will not, so a prologue can let them in on such elements.

    Probably the best prologue I've ever read was in the Dragonlance chronicles, because that beginning chapter is absolutely needed for the contrived beginning to work (I'm a huge dragonlance fan so no flames for that, but come on guys, admit it, it's a VERY contrived beginning) and the character introduced in the prologuge, his role and his importance isn't fully revealed until the very end of the last book of the trilogy.

    But was that prologue needed, really? Well, no. The beginning was contrived anyway, dropping the prologue wouldn't have hugely hurt the story.

    I'm not sure I've ever read a book where there absolutely MUST be a prologue for the story to work - actually, the more I think about it, the more that sounds like a flawed model.
     
  6. othman
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    othman Member

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    Yep, you don't need a single prologue never mind two. But if you're a prologue kind of guy then feel free, but I would strongly advise you to merge them as some people look at the amount of chapters and groan (I don't understand it, but some people do) and even if you don't have many chapters, two prologues could hit someone very hard if they're like that.
     
  7. Vayda
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    Vayda Senior Member

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    It occurs to me that if they're short, you could have one prologue split into two parts, using the "#" on a line by itself technique.
     
  8. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's your book, so really, you can do whatever you want. :) If you feel the need for two prologues, then write it out, take a look at it, and decide what you think of it.

    I have to say, I agree with those who have said that prologues aren't usually necessary. I'm not a big fan of them, so my advice would be that if you can write it without a prologue, you should; however, if you like the way your prologues work with your story, keep them. It's not about what works for other books or what people have come to expect from prologues-it's about what works for your story.
     
  9. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Historically, a literary "prologue" used a character to convey some sort of expectation from within the story. It was not narrative provided by the author to tell back story or establish setting. This "modern" misuse of the "prologue" violates the historic form of this literary tool that has been around as far back as Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in the 14th century. From that perspective, it has become the hallmark of weak writing, a place where literary incompetence reveals itself.

    What happened to the "prologue"?

    Prologue originated in theater, Greek theater, in particular. Each play opened with narration, usually by a deity, preparing the audience to understand the ensuing drama or comedy. Over time, the prologue evolved into introduction by an actual character within the play, helping to usher the audience from reality into the fantasy world of the story. Modern versions of the literary prologue, honored this tradition, opening many fiction stories with thoughts or actions of a character, thereby nurturing expectation in the reader.

    I am a fan of the traditional prologue. Fortunately, the end of the prologue, much like rumors of Mark Twain’s death, may be greatly exaggerated. Change, it must, but the old style literary prologue can survive. What form will it take? Is there a chance it may return to its former prominence? Will literary snobbery even give it a chance? Which publishers will show the business courage to allow prologues back into print? These questions have yet to be answered, but the time honored tradition of character-driven prologue remains as compelling today and it ever was. There is nothing as exciting as a voyeuristic peek into a story that you are thinking about purchasing.

    For this reason, the prologue is likely to make a comeback. A well written prologue is the best marketing tool possible for a fiction story. When a book store browser reads that three paragraph prologue, the sale is imminent if the reader is caught by the bait.

    Weak writing will include back-story and/or setting in a prologue. Strong writing will use the opportunity to snare the reader's attention with a key three to five paragraph excerpt featuring the main character. As far as multiple prologues, I feel that is overkill and I doubt it will get past most editors. In fact, it may label you as an inexperienced writer and, fairly or unfairly, prevent you from even being considered by many literary agents.
     
  10. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    In complete agreement with Saulty concerning the modern use of the prologue. It tends to say to me, "I didn't manage to tell the story well during the telling of the story, so here's the stuff you need in order to fill the holes I left in the plot."
     
  11. Vayda
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    Vayda Senior Member

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    I didn't know that was the original purpose of a prologue! I think every author i've read recently was doing it wrong, lol :D
     
  12. Posy
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    Posy New Member

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    Wow, I had no idea prologues weren't that liked. I guess I just won't have any. (I really don't care.)
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yup!

    what do you think you need to put in what you're calling a 'prologue' which may not actually be one?... and why do you think you need to do that?... why does it have to be a 'prologue' and not just the first chapter?
     
  14. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    Personally, I am not a big fan of prologues and have been trying to take them out of my work. They aren't necessary to the plot. Usually I'll write one just to keep it on hand to remind myself what exactly I'm working towards (as prologues nowadays do tend to over-foreshadow events).

    If you need to use two prologues, use them both. If you later go over your story/novel and realize you don't really need them, take them out. It's really that easy.

    ~Lynn
     
  15. Bongo Mongo
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    Bongo Mongo Member

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    This might just be me, but I really don't like prologues. If I flipped through a few pages of a book I wasn't sure on and saw not one but two...

    Just write one if necessary.
     

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