1. Accelerator231

    Accelerator231 New Member

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    How to write mythical fantasy prologue?

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Accelerator231, Feb 11, 2019.

    So I've been thinking of writing a few crossovers. No details yet, but I have an eye for the style I want to write it in. You know those.. styles? The ones with the speeches?

    It goes like this:

    How, what, exactly, should i write it as? How should I write it? Anything to watch out for? Any more examples of such text?
     
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  2. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    I love that kind of shit.

    If it’s self publishing, I’d just read what you like and then go for it. For traditional publishing, idk. Is it instyle and possible to get this kinda thing printed?
     
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  3. Accelerator231

    Accelerator231 New Member

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    I'm sorry? Can you elaborate?
     
  4. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    I haven't read any traditionally published books that have recently come out with this sort of prologue. It's more old fashion. If you are self publishing, it doesn't matter because it is up to you to target the S&S OSR crowd. If you are going for a traditional publisher, I think you should try to find some recent comparative titles to see if this is still being done, because god knows it is still being written.
     
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  5. Accelerator231

    Accelerator231 New Member

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    ... not sword and sorcery. Just trying to get tips to evoke that.... feel of agelessness and epic adventure
     
  6. Infel

    Infel Senior Member

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    I'm with John, I love that style. Regardless of your religious affiliations, I'd recommend checking out a few stories in the Bible. It's rife with all that kind of fancy wording and ancient prose. It's absolutely inspired a few short stories. That said, however, it's almost the definition of telling, not showing, so be warned!
     
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  7. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I think you'd want to start by figuring out why you want a prologue, or, to put it another way, what it's supposed to communicate. Do you want the reader to get attached to a character? To understand a piece of history or culture? Do you even really need a prologue, as opposed to just the opening of the first chapter?
     
  8. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll I'm in G-love with a Wonderful Lady. :) Contributor

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    IDK...

    The way I see prologues regardless of genres,
    kinda go like this:

    "Sit down for a history lesson, before we jump
    into the present (whatever time the main story
    takes place in). And if you don't sit through this
    lesson you might not understand what is going
    on in the story, or perhaps you just needed a
    quick history lesson on how my stories rules
    work, in hopes you won't notice the parts where
    they are broken later. Thanks for taking a few
    minutes to learn what the story could have
    easily established through world building." :p

    So like I said IDK, it is kinda a cheat to establish
    world/universe and rules/laws, without having to
    do that in the main story line.
     
  9. Accelerator231

    Accelerator231 New Member

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    1. Its really cool
    2. I got some ideas for a crossovers. But not enough time or energy to write them all. The fantasy prologue is a good skeleton.
     
  10. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Active Member

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    You view all prologues this way? I don't.
     
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  11. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll I'm in G-love with a Wonderful Lady. :) Contributor

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    Why what are you're thoughts on the matter?
    I haven't read many books that come with a
    prologue, they just start at the story.
    From the few I have read, they all kinda do
    that, typically from a character that won't be
    in the main story.
     
  12. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Active Member

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    Prologues are common enough in the books I read. Brandon Sanderson, Neil Gaimen, Guy Gavriel Kay, George R.R. Martin, and even Ray Bradbury use them.

    As to my thoughts on prologues: I view them similar to any other narrative option.
     
  13. Infel

    Infel Senior Member

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    I admit, I'm kind of with @Cave Troll as well. Prologues, often times, seem to be included in a less than stellar manner, used as an excuse to info dump even if done creatively. It's like narration at the beginning of a movie--the audience tends to forgive it, and so the creators don't feel pushed to come up with a better tool for their cause. I can't help but feel like the tool itself might be a faulty one.

    All of that said, however, I've written a prologue for every single one of my longer-form stories. I find them extremely helpful in orienting myself with the story, and would sing their praises high if we spoke of them as an author's tool, rather than something the reader ever laid eyes on!
     
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  14. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Active Member

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    That's not the case for the authors I listed, and I could've listed more—David Gemmell, Robert Jordan, Jim Butcher...

    Honestly, I can't even remember the last time I've read a prologue similar to what you've described. And I've read a lot of books with prologues.
     
  15. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    A lot of good fantasy prologues are basically promises. If your epic fantasy starts with 100 pages of farming or a walk in the woods, might want a prologue showing a battle.

    If your horror story starts with 200 pages of academic politics, maybe show the mummy waking up.

    That said, I used the horror variation in a WIP and got a personalized rejection that said, “we don’t want your story because your main character isn’t in the first few pages.”
    so I wrote a new first chapter and they didn’t like it either lol

    Which is why I brought up recently published books, and mention first time authors in the past. New books from new authors seem to share certain styles, and I’m not sure prologues are a part of it.

    I’d love to see some examples of prologues from first time recent authors if anyone has some.
     
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  16. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Active Member

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    Just how recent are you looking for?
     
  17. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    2016+
     
  18. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Active Member

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    Ah, that's far too recent for me to comment. Brandon Sanderson's debut novel Elantris includes a prologue, but that was published in 2005.

    Whether that's true or not, it's a completely different conversation from the claim that prologues are generally unnecessary info dumps.
     
  19. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    Did they have Internet in 2005?
     
  20. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Active Member

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    I don't understand?

    Edit: A like but no answer... Well, that's not what I expected.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019 at 6:31 PM
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  21. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think it's true that a lot of authors use prologues as unnecessary info dumps. Elantris was the only prologue I enjoyed - it was brief (half a page or less) and it's about the place of the title, which immediately tells you it's important. Too often it's just boring stuff written in old-timey language that's by no means elegant nor mystical about a world I have no idea of and couldn't care less about, and I'm dunked right into a history lesson indeed. Another common mistake is people actually often say the same things again in chapter 1, proving the prologue wasn't needed after all - it was just the author's indulgence.

    Another drawback of the sort of prologue the OP is going for is that it requires epic writing skills. Aside from fantasy history buffs and those who appreciate writing like that of the King James Bible (both of which I'd say is pretty niche these days), not many would be interested in that sort of prologue. The only reason one might sit through it would be for the beautiful writing - I'd be looking at literary novels to see how elegant language is played and emulate that.

    @John Calligan - I don't think it's wise to use a battle to lure an unsuspecting reader into 200 pages of farm work. That's selling false expectations and bound to lose many, many readers. People will put the book down because they didn't sign up for 200 pages of farm work - they thought it was gonna be exciting after that battle. If you indeed have 200 pages of farm work and that's how your story is, let that stand on its own merit. Don't hide the fact that it's slow and perhaps shows the mundane - but use that as your selling angle because that's your book, at the end of the day. Put that at the front and center.

    If someone indeed wrote 200 pages of farm work, then I sure hope they found it interesting and meaningful to write - so don't be ashamed of that but make it your strength. Then you'll lose all the readers looking for battles but you'll attract all the readers who are looking for slow pace farm work stories, and these readers will love your book. Your opening should reflect the rest of your novel in pace and tone, in my opinion - that's what makes it a good opening.
     
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  22. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    I agree that you don't want to falsely advertise what you are writing, but at the same time, you need the promises to line up with what the book is. If you have 200 pages of farming, trading, walking, talking, intrigue, all leading to a battle, a lot of readers will excitedly read it all as long as they know the battle is coming.

    Another set of readers will get through three slow paced chapters and if they don't know the battle is coming, might be happy they are reading a slow and thoughtful book.

    Without a prologue, you risk losing the people who would be excited by the book if they knew a battle was coming, and you will piss off the people who wanted a slow personal tale without big battles. By having something epic up front, you are making the promise that yes, you will get to this again, trust me. At the same time, you are warning off the people that are going to 1 star you on good reads when they realize that it was epic fantasy all along.
     
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  23. Hammer

    Hammer Active Member

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    Before I started writing and interacting with writers in a "writerly" way I had never considered the importance of the prologue.

    I just skipped it.

    Still do.
     
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  24. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    Isn't it?

    In a time before mankind harnessed the wheel, when wheat was free-ranging and when dogs roamed as dogs should dog, three tribes inhabited the island of Volcomia. Among the lowly tribe of the Baach peoples dwelling on the so-called littoral baach region was a boy, his name was Girlu.

    Or,

    Legend states among the mythical people of Baach - he who throws a line baited with fruit shall harvest but the fruity fish of the ocean. He who baits with meat catches monsters.


    Chapter 1

    Girlu was fishing.
     
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  25. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Active Member

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    It sounds like you and I aren't reading the same books. I can't even remember the last time I read a prologue that used a noticeably different language than the rest of the novel.
     
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  26. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I wouldn't say the promises have lined up with what the book is if you sold an epic battle and then delivered 200 pages of farm work and a tale of slow, internal drama... Supplying one single battle scene that may well be in the middle or end of an otherwise slow tale doesn't make it the suspenseful, intense adventure people who seek battles might be after. If your 200 pages of farm work is full of suspense and foreboding that culminates in a battle, that's different.

    The readers who like it slow may not mind having to read one battle scene near the end. But you can be sure the readers who wanted a fast-paced adventure would begrudge you for putting them through 200 pages of slowness before anything got interesting for them.

    We're probably not gonna agree, and as with everything in writing, almost anything can work, I'm sure. So now I'm intrigued, can you give an example that has worked well where it starts with action and lightning bolts only to spend 2/3rds of the book in some ordinary setting with not a spark of adventure to speak of - and still got majority positive reviews?
     
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