1. Agatha Christie
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    Agatha Christie Contributing Member

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    what is a prologue?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Agatha Christie, Feb 12, 2012.

    removed
     
  2. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    No, a prologue is nothing like a synopsis. Have you tried using google to look it up?
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A prologue is a piece of story that does not really belong in the main story, placed before the first chapter.

    Most stories are better off without a prologue. Some writers insist on putting them in as a teaser. Worse, some use a prologue to give the reader a history lesson about the background for a story.
     
  4. Agatha Christie
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    Agatha Christie Contributing Member

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    this is really not helpful Kallithrix. I know it is NOT a synopsis but I would like to see an example of a prologue. I do not need a definition...I need an example!!!

    Hello Jazzabel. I don't understand what you are trying to say about 'Word' and advertising. How does this relate to my enquiry?

    Can you give me an actual example of a prologue. If I google prologue, I'll probably just get a definition.....which is not helpful.
     
  5. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    A prologue is simply something that happens before the actual story occurs.

    For example, the first Harry Potter book, the first chapter, could be interpreted as a prologue as its main focus is to get Baby Harry to the Dursleys (as well as introduce us the concept of the wizarding world, and how Baby Harry somehow managed to defeat this really bad wizard called Voldemort.) It isn't until the second chapter that Harry's adventure picks up 11 years later.
     
  6. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Might want to mention that's opinion, not fact. :)
     
  7. naturemage
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    naturemage Active Member

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    Think of the openings of the Star Wars movies. When the words scroll up the screen, it tells what is happening just before the story, a history lesson if you will, as Cogito said.

    I suppose, if you want to think about it this way, The Hobbit is a prologue for Lord of the Rings. Somewhat. I guess that's the best example I can think of. If I think of something else, I'll let you know. But, I agree with Cogito, some stories are better off without them. Without a prologue, it allows for plot twists further into a story. You add things later on, information on things that happened before, and it can lead to some interesting character development. If you don't know what happens, it can make character development interesting for the reader, because he doesn't know why a character is doing something.

    Hope this helps a bit. Don't google it, this is a site for help. Telling someone to "google it" isn't really helpful.

    @jazzabel- I am also confused about the mentioning of Word? I didn't see anything about it in Cogito's post.
    @jazzabel2- lol. that makes sense.
     
  8. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^This.
    I think prologue can be really useful, but it must be handled with care.
    Prologue is different from introduction, and I would strongly suggest you google both, you need to know the definitions, and besides, it is always a good idea to research first, ask questions later.

    But imo, the story starts with prologue. It is the first bit of writing, before chapter 1 starts, in which something relevant to the story happens or is described (sometimes even (shock-horror!) some background).
    It is not necessary to write a prologue, but here and there, I have seen them work.
    Here's a nice one, from Romeo and Juliet
     
  9. Agatha Christie
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    Agatha Christie Contributing Member

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    thanks Link for elaborating

    thank you naturemage for making things clearer for me

    thank you jazzabel for your help
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If anyone haqs a problem distinguishing fact from opinion, they habve no business on the Internet. I am not going to preface every comment with "this is fact: or "this is opinion".

    Or do you simply post this on opinions you disagree with?

    I stand by my opinion. And I believe you will find most publishers' submissions editors will agree with it.
     
  11. Mark_Archibald
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    Mark_Archibald Active Member

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    A prologue is background information before the story begins at chapter one. It is part of the story and readers shouldn't be skipping over them. EXAMPLE

    Prologue might feature the main character as a child and describe the events of a car crash that left him paralyzed.

    Chapter one begins thirty years later with the main character as a grown up in a wheelchair and story moves on from there.
     
  12. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I post that on most statements that sound like fact when they are - in fact - opinion. And I'm still waiting for someone to come up with a reliable source (ie, not personal preference) for this idea that "most" readers/editors/agents/publishers don't like prologues.
     
  13. MVP
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    I hate prologues. But one that I did like was the one in David Edding's Pawn of Prophecy. To understand his use of that prologue, it would be best to read the stories that follow. Otherwise, I'm not sure what you are going to get out of it.
     
  14. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    I'm terribly sorry. Have you tried GOOGLING EXAMPLE OF A PROLOGUE??

    Honestly, how much of your work do you want us to do for you? Go into a library. Pick up books. Read prologues.
     
  15. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I think Kalli means, if you had bothered to Google 'prologue' you would have learnt that it is not anything like a synopsis (re: your first question), and if you Googled 'novels with prologues' or 'examples of prologues' you would have been directed to many novels which start with a prologue which you can then *gasp* look up in a library.
    I don't know why half the prologues in books are not just called 'Chapter 1'. I think calling them prologues sometimes is merely pretentious. Other times, when they really are a prologue, they are actually far less necessary than the writer seems to think they are, and the information (with a little skill, which is probably the problem) could have been shown throughout the story...
     
  16. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    why don't you take a couple of random books and look for yourself? that would be the best way to get examples, really.
     
  17. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    You know, everyone who has responded 'I hate prologues' always quickly apends 'except this one I read in...'

    Why cling to the generalisation when there are exceptions all around you? We all know that ANYTHING can be done badly, and if it is done badly often enough it establishes a reputation for being rubbish, overused, bad writing etc, but that doesn't mean the technique is inherently bad. If done well, ANY writing technique can be brilliant. Prologues are no different.

    When I approached my agent I asked her whether she disliked prologues. She said, no, she dislikes BAD prologues. She actually liked mine, and said it worked really well to establish the time and culture of the novel, and set the antagonist on the path that will bring him into opposition with my protag in chapter 1. These are all the reasons I defended my inclusion of a prologue on this forum, so sometimes it's not just the writer stubbornly insisting on including a bunch of stuff that's more for their benefit for the reader. Sometimes, it just works.
     
  18. naturemage
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    naturemage Active Member

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    I don't think it's "doing work" for Agatha. The idea of the site is to help. If she doesn't know what a prologue is, does it hurt to tell her? If you didn't know how a rocket worked, I would hope a scientist might be able to help you instead of telling you to go to a library, if you asked him.
     
  19. Agatha Christie
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    Agatha Christie Contributing Member

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    Tesoro. If you had named two books which carry prologues, this would have been helpful.

    Thank you to most members who have contributed to this thread and helped me better understand what a prologue is and its uses. No thanks at all to those who have simply told me to go to the library.
     
  20. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    I now know why you can't look this up for yourself - your profile says you don't read fiction. Well, not trying to state the obvious, but you need to remedy that if you want to write fiction. Or at least GOOD fiction.

    Seriously, the people who have told you to go to the library and get reading have done you the favour. All the handholders have done is let you carry on not doing what you're supposed to be doing, which is researching for yourself.
     
  21. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    Prologues are parts of the story which are separate in some manner to the main plot, such as an event taking place a long time ago, or a long way away from the main events, or else it takes place from a different POV. A good example of the latter is A Song Of Ice And Fire which starts each book with a one off POV prologue.

    note: OT I know, but it is a little odd that you want to write fiction but have never read any. I'm afraid you'll be running into a large obstacle fairly soon.
     
  22. Felipe
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    Felipe Active Member

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    PROLOGUE



    My name is Felipe Montoya and this is my tale. In order for me to tell you this, I must go back to the beginning. How did I, a simple fisherman become a pirate, the most wanted man in the Caribbean and the new colonies of Mexico? Why was I forced to kill and just how did I, an honest man become the sole focus of the King‘s wrath? As I said, I must start at the beginning, it is a long tale of bravery, love, betrayal and devotion. The story of common men struggling together to defeat insurmountable odds. My story was written long ago, let God be my judge.
     
  23. Agatha Christie
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    Agatha Christie Contributing Member

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    not sure where all my posts have gone but just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has offered explanations and examples. Sorry if I am repeating myself.
     
  24. 1000screams
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    Agatha, you've already got some explanations of what a prologue is, I wanted to add, that 9 times out of 10 when I read a book with a prologue I think to myself that it would be better without it. Sci-fi is the worst one, prologues are usually nothing more than massive infodumps. However, I have read many books that have interesting prologues that added to the flavor of the book. So not all are bad, but most aren't good. I have never felt the need to pen one. Though I am thinking of putting one in my WIP, but that will be the last thing I do. It has to do with a historical clip of the previous inhabitants of the setting I'm using, back in the 1870s, book is set in modern day.

    And as for Kallithrix.... Ad Hominem attacks on others doesn't indicate maturity or authority. Just trying to flower up ad hominem as "truth telling" or "brutal honesty" or "tough love sans love" is just an excuse to be mean to others for your own enjoyment of starting an argument. With maturity comes control, not censoring. We're all writers here, shouldn't we have better ways of expressing ourselves? We're wordsmiths, where's your wordsmithing? Where's your creativity? Where's your accomplishment that makes you all knowing? If you want to play with the grown ups you have to put up or shut up.
     
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  25. MVP
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    I agree to disagree with you. I still hate prologues. Instead of taking the time to write a chapter that some readers will skip over, why not take that info and weave it into the WIP, and create edge? Its not that prologues are written badly, I just think they can be absorbed into the story and provoke the events. On the other hand, story is personal, every writer crafts uniquely. If a prologue suits the author, then I guess that story will have a prologue.

    I enjoyed Pawn of Prophecy, however after reading the series, the story can stand on its own, minus the prologue. The OP wanted an example, I gave him one.
     

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