September 22, 2019, 11:58:54 PM

Author Topic: Prologues  (Read 17672 times)

Offline Peat

Re: Prologues
« Reply #45 on: August 03, 2017, 12:07:02 AM »
Problem is there isn't a huge amount to reply to in that article! Its a pretty succinct summary of the main problems  in using prologues and there's not a lot to say other than "Yup, got that right". I wish he'd done something on how to do it right mind and when to consider using the tool.
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Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: Prologues
« Reply #46 on: August 03, 2017, 01:40:08 AM »
His best point relates to the fact that using a prologue is starting your book twice. Taking this further, one must accomplish the same tasks in the prologue and chapter 1:
1. Communicate the kind of story and story-telling the reader can expect.
2. Some indication of what kinds of endings are on or off the table.
3. Present hooks

Bonus points if you have different hooks in each.
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Offline Peat

Re: Prologues
« Reply #47 on: August 03, 2017, 01:58:06 AM »
His best point relates to the fact that using a prologue is starting your book twice. Taking this further, one must accomplish the same tasks in the prologue and chapter 1:
1. Communicate the kind of story and story-telling the reader can expect.
2. Some indication of what kinds of endings are on or off the table.
3. Present hooks

Bonus points if you have different hooks in each.

Ah, the different hooks is an easy one - you show the villain in the prologue and the hero in chapter one!
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Online J.R. Darewood

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Re: Prologues
« Reply #48 on: August 03, 2017, 06:29:39 AM »
His best point relates to the fact that using a prologue is starting your book twice. Taking this further, one must accomplish the same tasks in the prologue and chapter 1:
1. Communicate the kind of story and story-telling the reader can expect.
2. Some indication of what kinds of endings are on or off the table.
3. Present hooks

Bonus points if you have different hooks in each.

Ah, the different hooks is an easy one - you show the villain in the prologue and the hero in chapter one!

That's what I did!

I don't know what to do with people who say things like "I don't like prologues" That's like saying "I don't like books with red in the cover" or "I don't like books where the author has used a fragment for a sentence in dialogue more than three times in the first 200 pages"-- it just seems totally random and arbitrary to me.  Some books have prologues... that's just how they are.

Offline Peat

Re: Prologues
« Reply #49 on: August 03, 2017, 09:21:46 AM »
His best point relates to the fact that using a prologue is starting your book twice. Taking this further, one must accomplish the same tasks in the prologue and chapter 1:
1. Communicate the kind of story and story-telling the reader can expect.
2. Some indication of what kinds of endings are on or off the table.
3. Present hooks

Bonus points if you have different hooks in each.

Ah, the different hooks is an easy one - you show the villain in the prologue and the hero in chapter one!

That's what I did!

I don't know what to do with people who say things like "I don't like prologues" That's like saying "I don't like books with red in the cover" or "I don't like books where the author has used a fragment for a sentence in dialogue more than three times in the first 200 pages"-- it just seems totally random and arbitrary to me.  Some books have prologues... that's just how they are.

They're disliked because a lot of books used them because they were de rigueur and for no particular reason or effect beyond that. They're the orphan farmboy of literary devices.
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Re: Prologues
« Reply #50 on: August 03, 2017, 10:36:19 AM »
I also like orphan farmboys.

Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: Prologues
« Reply #51 on: August 03, 2017, 12:07:54 PM »
One last item, relating to starting your book twice. Chapter 1 has to be able to function without the prologue, because a lot of readers will skip a prologue. Which is why I kept mine to a single page :)
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Offline Eclipse

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Re: Prologues
« Reply #52 on: August 03, 2017, 12:37:45 PM »
One last item, relating to starting your book twice. Chapter 1 has to be able to function without the prologue, because a lot of readers will skip a prologue. Which is why I kept mine to a single page :)

Didn't  one of your favourite author have two prologue lasting 70 pages in one of his books? R.S Bakker
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Offline ScarletBea

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Re: Prologues
« Reply #53 on: August 03, 2017, 12:51:45 PM »
I also don't understand people who skip prologues ::)
It's a part of the book, and must be included - it's like visiting a place but wanting to appear immediately there, whithout passing through the road there, right?
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Online cupiscent

Re: Prologues
« Reply #54 on: August 03, 2017, 01:00:26 PM »
I didn't read the prologues in the Belgariad until about the third time I read the series, and mostly when I re-read these days I skip them as well. They're tonally completely different, and provide background/mythic information that is always recounted in the text anyway. There is no reason for them to be there.

In general, I'm not a fan of prologues. Most of the reasons for having one are sort of cheat / cheap reasons - you want to show the villain/threat/whatever (which suggests to me your actual start is weak) or you want to evoke some epic feel (which you should do in your main text if you want it) or... I don't know. I'm not sure I've ever read a prologue that really worked for me. And, indeed, I can think of two books off the top of my head that were amazing, but I nearly didn't read because of the prologue. (Those books are: Hartman's Seraphina and Abraham's The Dragon's Path.)

I don't skip prologues as a matter of course, though. But if - as was the case with Eddings - I'm bored or getting lost in the prologue, I might skip to the first chapter to see if it keeps the same tone/approach/whatever is making me bounce.

Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: Prologues
« Reply #55 on: August 03, 2017, 03:06:34 PM »
I do not have a rule for reading prologues, but I am prone to skip them if they are long or not interesting - just as I am wont to do for any prose. And in my mind they're as much a part of the book as anything else, so I do not recall which books have them or not.

For my part, I do not like prologues that are separated by great swaths of time or distance, as a rule, the 'expositionary prologue' so to speak. Prologues are supposed to set up Chapter 1, not provide backstory. I think authors writing converging tales often feel compelled to show you that, just so you know, there's another character WAY OVER THERE that we'll be getting to in a moment - which is of course sort of foolish, since the whole point of jumping POVs is to experience the shift, and not only requires no setup - but suffers for it.
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Offline Not Lu

Re: Prologues
« Reply #56 on: August 03, 2017, 04:33:16 PM »
All that really matters about a prologue is that it's interesting and contributes to the main plot.

I think Brent Weeks is off the mark when he says you have to start the book twice... and that's bad. By his logic, if you change POV then you have to start the book again and again for each POV. The Wheel of Time series has 147 POVs. It didn't seem to hurt the story.

Each POV just needs to be interesting and relevant to the story. Same for a prologue.

Besides, the real question is: Should there be epilogues in books? I mean, if the author did their job the story would be finished in the last chapter. Why have an epilogue?

Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: Prologues
« Reply #57 on: August 03, 2017, 05:46:59 PM »
Not Lu: At any transition, within a chapter, between them, etc., there's a risk of losing reader interest. A prologue has this risk at its leading edge and at the transition to chap. 1. But unlike the POV shifts you mention, this has more weight because a reader has not purchased the book yet or invested scores/hundreds of pages when they flip open and sample the first page of the prologue.

And no one said anything was bad - only that you have to ensure the prologue and Chapt. 1 are both extra engaging. Now, all chapters should be engaging, but not all need to be engaging right off or to the same extent the way beginnings need to be. By Chapt. 5, we're either on board or not.
The Gem Cutter
"Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, and the fulfillment or the fiasco. There's always the possibility of a fiasco. But there's also the possibility of bliss." - Joseph Campbell

Offline Peat

Re: Prologues
« Reply #58 on: August 03, 2017, 06:48:11 PM »
I didn't read the prologues in the Belgariad until about the third time I read the series, and mostly when I re-read these days I skip them as well. They're tonally completely different, and provide background/mythic information that is always recounted in the text anyway. There is no reason for them to be there.

In general, I'm not a fan of prologues. Most of the reasons for having one are sort of cheat / cheap reasons - you want to show the villain/threat/whatever (which suggests to me your actual start is weak) or you want to evoke some epic feel (which you should do in your main text if you want it) or... I don't know. I'm not sure I've ever read a prologue that really worked for me. And, indeed, I can think of two books off the top of my head that were amazing, but I nearly didn't read because of the prologue. (Those books are: Hartman's Seraphina and Abraham's The Dragon's Path.)

I don't skip prologues as a matter of course, though. But if - as was the case with Eddings - I'm bored or getting lost in the prologue, I might skip to the first chapter to see if it keeps the same tone/approach/whatever is making me bounce.

Heh. I mostly brought The Dragon's Path on the strength of the prologue and regret doing so.

I do disagree with the bolded though. The use of fairly small-scale, contained, ordinary settings for the beginning of the Epic is a classic move. It grounds the reader in the story quicker and all that. It does also put a fairly hard stop on how much epic feeling you can stick in the text to begin with though. Using a prologue is often a far more sensible way to give a story an epic framing in those circs.
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Online cupiscent

Re: Prologues
« Reply #59 on: August 03, 2017, 11:37:20 PM »
Heh. I mostly brought The Dragon's Path on the strength of the prologue and regret doing so.

Hah! And there's the flip side. :) (Though, the info and themes from the prologue do come back into the story, and they're a big part of the overall plot... but that particular scenario and concept is never really central.)

I do disagree with the bolded though. The use of fairly small-scale, contained, ordinary settings for the beginning of the Epic is a classic move. It grounds the reader in the story quicker and all that. It does also put a fairly hard stop on how much epic feeling you can stick in the text to begin with though. Using a prologue is often a far more sensible way to give a story an epic framing in those circs.

I definitely agree that that sort of thing is very common, but I still don't like it. My dislike is comprised of a range of things, partly that I'm bored of orphan farmboys (sorry Bradley! ;P) and partly that I've lost patience in my old middle-ish age with the style of fantasy storytelling that feels like it needs to ground me in the mundane before taking me on a grand exploration. I'm a fantasy reader; I'm here for the wonder. If you can't at least show me the horizon in the first chapter, my general feeling is that this story is going to move too slow.

I very, very definitely note that I am speaking for myself here, and not for the majority of readers. I mean, a prime offender in this category for me was The Name of the Wind, which drove me mad with tedium for most of the first half, but is obviously wildly popular. (Its prologue / framing narrative promised that there was going to be Epic Heroism guys, honest, trust me, you're going to love it, but that stuff took its sweet time showing up...)

Speaking of me being a weird fantasy reader...
I think Brent Weeks is off the mark when he says you have to start the book twice... and that's bad. By his logic, if you change POV then you have to start the book again and again for each POV.
To be honest, I think that's not a bad way of looking at it. Especially if you're bringing in a new POV early in the book, yes, you do need to convince the reader all over again that this is an interesting story. If they're already invested, like TGC covered, then your sell is less hard. (Both Jordan and Martin have heaps of POVs, but both of them kept it tight and interrelated to start with.) I vividly remember reading one book where I turned over to the sixth chapter, and found it was yet another new POV - every chapter had been a new one, and none of them were involved with each other, and I didn't care about any of them yet, and that's when I took the book back to the library.