September 22, 2019, 07:17:05 AM

Author Topic: Prologues  (Read 17651 times)

Offline Yuan François

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Re: Prologues
« Reply #30 on: December 30, 2013, 12:58:59 AM »
Further question: how would they know to go back?

When the book is finished and questions aren't answered, I guess.   :s
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Offline AnneL

Re: Prologues
« Reply #31 on: December 30, 2013, 01:17:37 AM »
A lot depends on the pacing of the story, too. A long prologue in which nothing much happens I might accept in a big long book that I know is going to take a while to gather steam, but in a shorter book I want a snappier or more eventful prologue.  But even in a prologue in which nothing much happens, I want it to show me that something is at stake.  If it's just setting up framework for the actual story, it's redundant.

Offline Dan D Jones

Re: Prologues
« Reply #32 on: December 30, 2013, 03:08:15 PM »
I would much rather begin with Our Protagonist struggling in the ashes of a ruined world because I would be thinking What was the terrible catastrophe that did all this? I will be hooked to Our Protagonist's perspective and I will be intrigued. And then later on, when the author skillfully doles out the answer, revealing it piece by piece to both me the reader and to Our Protagonist who's struggles I have come to care about, it will feel like a reward. It will feel like it means something.

See, personally I really don't like this, the flashback-type story, when it starts with the apparently main event and then works backwards. It's something that really bugs me, whether in books or films, or TV.
Give me a prologue anytime ;D

What's the story that's being told in the book?  If the book is the story of the cataclysm, then I'm not overly fond of starting after the fact and jumping back to tell the story.  On the other hand, if the book is the story of characters dealing with the aftermath of the cataclysm and the details of the cataclysm are essentially just backstory, then I have no problem with flashbacks and such filling in the info you need to understand the aftermath.

Offline nbhagat

Re: Prologues
« Reply #33 on: December 30, 2013, 04:11:54 PM »
Sounds like new Man of Steel movie.

Offline Justan Henner

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Re: Prologues
« Reply #34 on: December 30, 2013, 05:48:42 PM »

How many times do you see an author taking such a risk? So as to put the most important information in the prologue?

Honestly, I'm a firm believer that the first ten minutes of a movie are the most important part, and that the first twenty pages of a novel are as well. They should set the mood, or rather the lens through which you see the rest of the book. However, I do think that a lot of authors fail in that respect, by providing information that is either too relevant to the overall story arc and not the current story arc (like wheel of time) or by seeming completely detached from the entire novel. For me, the best prologues are those that introduce a character that is incredibly important to the overall story, but for some reason doesn't play a large role in the beginning chapters, (time difference, location, etc.)

Sorry if others have said things like this already. I posted this and then walked away for a few days because of family stuff haha. I'm replying as I have things to say, before I've read the entire thread (which I hate to do, but didn't want to forget my point).

Offline Justan Henner

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Re: Prologues
« Reply #35 on: December 30, 2013, 06:02:39 PM »
Prologues are hooptedoodle.  They're lazy writing or a cheap trick.  If they contain essential background material, then the author is too lazy or inexperienced or unskilled to properly fold the material into the story.  If they contain an attention-grabbing cliff-hanger that gets answered at the end of the story, then they're a desperate attempt to grab your interest and force you to read the rest of the book, evidently because the author feels the book isn't interesting enough to keep your attention on its own.

There are exceptions but they are precisely that - exceptions, exceptional, unusual, outside the norm.  A highly skilled writer can break all the rules s/he likes and still write a book that leaves me panting for more.  Most writers aren't that highly skilled.

Haha, I have a similar view of flashbacks/Dream sequences. I would much rather see the scene in person, in the prologue, than see it in a flashback or a dream later on. I think you're right, a poorly written prologue can be a big detractor, but I don't think prologues themselves are lazy writing/a cheap trick. I think they're a clever trick, difficult to master, but more than worthwhile if you do (and potentially damning if you don't).
« Last Edit: December 30, 2013, 06:06:31 PM by Justan Henner »

Offline xiagan

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Re: Prologues
« Reply #36 on: December 30, 2013, 06:49:36 PM »
I always read the prologue and even if you don't understand it at the time (Eye of the World, Way of Kings), it still gives you a scope and will make you read the book in a certain way.

I recently added a 3rd person prologue to my 1st person novel because there was some information I couldn't get in in a believable way otherwise. If you write first person, you can't show stuff your character isn't interested in or thinks is common knowledge.

Since my prologue takes place after the main action of the novel, I did a fair bit of foreshadowing in it too and I think it really helps the flow of my novel.

I agree that a prologue is not a good way to find out if you will like the book. If you can't abide first person, my third person prologue would have fooled you.

I've never been at a disadvantage for not reading them...
Well, that's something you just can't know. There is no way finding out if you would have enjoyed the book more if you had read the prologue because you can't read a book for the first time again. ;)
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Offline Arry

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Re: Prologues
« Reply #37 on: December 30, 2013, 09:49:04 PM »
I don't think prologues themselves are lazy writing/a cheap trick. I think they're a clever trick, difficult to master, but more than worthwhile if you do (and potentially damning if you don't).

This.
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Offline Sindran

Re: Prologues
« Reply #38 on: December 31, 2013, 05:59:22 PM »
Prologues are hooptedoodle.  They're lazy writing or a cheap trick.  If they contain essential background material, then the author is too lazy or inexperienced or unskilled to properly fold the material into the story.  If they contain an attention-grabbing cliff-hanger that gets answered at the end of the story, then they're a desperate attempt to grab your interest and force you to read the rest of the book, evidently because the author feels the book isn't interesting enough to keep your attention on its own.

There are exceptions but they are precisely that - exceptions, exceptional, unusual, outside the norm.  A highly skilled writer can break all the rules s/he likes and still write a book that leaves me panting for more.  Most writers aren't that highly skilled.

Haha, I have a similar view of flashbacks/Dream sequences. I would much rather see the scene in person, in the prologue, than see it in a flashback or a dream later on. I think you're right, a poorly written prologue can be a big detractor, but I don't think prologues themselves are lazy writing/a cheap trick. I think they're a clever trick, difficult to master, but more than worthwhile if you do (and potentially damning if you don't).

See, that's what I'm talking about. If the character is going to have an important flashback it is better to stick in the prologue.

Offline EricaDakin

Re: Prologues
« Reply #39 on: January 04, 2014, 05:32:49 PM »
Personally I don't see why you would skip the prologue. That's like saying 'I'm not reading chapter 3 because I don't like chapter 3s'. Okay, that's an extreme example, but the author wouldn't have put in a prologue unless they felt it was relevant.

I also see them as giving relevant information which isn't about the book's main protagonist. To me, if a book or a series has a clear protagonist but hops between viewpoints, then Chapter One should be about the protagonist. If you have important information to reveal before that, it's a prologue.

I'm not an expert of course, but that's what my gut feeling says, and I often go with my gut...
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Offline Evazorek

Re: Prologues
« Reply #40 on: January 06, 2014, 07:48:02 AM »
I usually read the prologue to a book. If it's a book that is new to me that I have not heard of before I will read it as a means to gauge my interest in it. If it's a book that has been recommended to me or is part of a series I am familiar with I will generally read it just before I start the book to whet my appetite for what is to come.

I think the only time I don't read the prologue is when I have a kindle edition of a book because it's just easier to get stuck into the book than going off to find where the prologue for it is. if that's the case though I will probably have already read the prologue online before getting the book.

I like prologues, they feel to me like the authors attempt at making a trailer for the book and I enjoy trailers as they serve to get me excited for the content I am about to consume. Like trailers, however, I prefer my prologues to be as spoiler free as possible and to not give any of the good parts away. :)
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Offline ScarletBea

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Re: Prologues
« Reply #41 on: February 24, 2017, 06:36:08 PM »
I remembered this discussion when I found Brent Weeks' article on prologues:

http://www.brentweeks.com/writing-advice/writing-advice-prologues/
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Offline ultamentkiller

Re: Prologues
« Reply #42 on: August 01, 2017, 05:04:53 PM »
Okay, @ScarletBea, I have a bone to pick with you.

Me: Wow. I just visited Brent Weeks' website for the first time in a while. And it looks so different. And here's some writing advice about prologues I haven't read! Wow, this looks different than what others have said. Let me come here and find an old topic about prologues. Aha. Here's one. Now I'll scroll down this page and skim over some comments... Dammit! It's already here, with no comments about it!

I have been foiled.

Offline Lanko

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Re: Prologues
« Reply #43 on: August 01, 2017, 05:34:36 PM »
Okay, @ScarletBea, I have a bone to pick with you.

Me: Wow. I just visited Brent Weeks' website for the first time in a while. And it looks so different. And here's some writing advice about prologues I haven't read! Wow, this looks different than what others have said. Let me come here and find an old topic about prologues. Aha. Here's one. Now I'll scroll down this page and skim over some comments... Dammit! It's already here, with no comments about it!

I have been foiled.

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Offline ScarletBea

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Re: Prologues
« Reply #44 on: August 01, 2017, 06:17:42 PM »
Sorry for foiling you, hehe - not my fault nobody replied :P
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