Author Topic: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION  (Read 1068 times)  

Offline Dean Kutzler

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Hey guys! I'm launching a new space opera in the spring and a few of my beta readers had said the beginning chapter should be a prologue. I've written in the thriller genre, and mostly prologues are taboo. At least what I've learned.

I know that sci-fi readers are a different breed, less concerned with editing issues, etc. So, I'm wondering if you guys could help me out and give me your thoughts, opinions and experiences.

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Offline Deke

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2018, 09:01:02 AM »
I am launching my own space opera "Machine" and it has a prologue. But in my case, the prologue is an event with a different character set hundreds of years before the bulk of the novel. IMHO that's how prologues work best. They are the spark that lights a fire.

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2018, 09:06:09 AM »
Not an expert by any stretch, so take this for what it's worth, but I've never understood prologues. Start the story at Chapter 1. If you have backstory, sprinkle it in as you progress. Often I feel authors include prologues because they see 'x' successful author use them. All well and good I suppose, to each their own, but I think they're a waste of time. Just get on with things. Again, not an expert, just a dude with an opinion.  8)

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Offline sceptique

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2018, 09:32:56 AM »
No matter how you call it, it is still the opening chapter of your story, so it needs to be a well-written, engaging read and not an infodump. Worldbuilding is one of the key sklls for sci-fi writers - you may want to consult a few how-to books specific for this genre.
Rule of thumb is - get the story going and introduce the world in the process.

(Shameless self-promo: you may want to check the opening sequence in the sample chapter I have on KS right now - it used to be a prologue, but my tutors convinced me to try and build it into Chapter 1 narrative. I turned it into flashback to set apart from the main storyline.)
« Last Edit: January 12, 2018, 01:56:00 PM by sceptique »
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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2018, 11:29:18 AM »
If the beta readers said it should be a prologue that means they felt it was separate from the main story. In that case - is it necessary?

As a reader, I usually skip prologues because I want the meat of the story right away and I assume it's some political/philosophical nonsense that the writer thought he needed.

So I'd take a good look at the first chapter and see why it put them off.


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Online Joshua Dalzelle

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2018, 12:11:28 PM »
If you have information that your reader will need for context that your POV character(s) aren't aware of it can be useful. By not calling it "Chapter 1" it can also more easily let readers know that the information they're getting is related, but separate from the story. I've used it when there are events on the timeline that are far behind or far ahead of where the story takes place. This isn't really a helpful answer but I'd say use your instincts to determine whether you need to impart certain information before the story starts or if it's something that can be divulged as it progresses.

Offline Dean Kutzler

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2018, 12:22:07 PM »
I'd say use your instincts to determine whether you need to impart certain information before the story starts or if it's something that can be divulged as it progresses.

Thanks, Joshua. This (and also everyone's input) is very helpful I should've explained the situation a little better, but this hits it.

The current world (and story) I want to tell is the result of something that happened in the past. I didn't want to focus on the past by building it into the story. The bad event already happened and I may do a short story of it, but I really didn't want to clog up the action of this book.

But...it's essential for the world (and reader) to know, so it's a small info dump. I spread it out a little so it wasn't so "dump"  :P ! LOL! Had to say it!

So I researched a little and found that most sci-fi readers don't mind the prologue. Think the scrolling screen at the beginning of Star Wars and how they almost comically did it with every story thereafter like a joke. It caught the reader up to the point where the actual story being written is where it starts. If I were to write it in naturally, it would first be boring or would have to be a flashback, which I don't do. It's too much to fit into casual convo with my characters, so... I was thinking prologue.
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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2018, 01:02:56 PM »
The current world (and story) I want to tell is the result of something that happened in the past. I didn't want to focus on the past by building it into the story. The bad event already happened and I may do a short story of it, but I really didn't want to clog up the action of this book.

But...it's essential for the world (and reader) to know, so it's a small info dump.

Too many times I've seen the "sprinkling" of important past events into early narrative accomplished by a) the main character's internal monologue in situations where a person wouldn't typically or naturally have cause to be thinking of historical events, and/or b) using dialogue between the main character and another character in "You know, Bob, . . . . " fashion. Those are much more ::)-inducing for me than any prologue could be.

Sometimes I think the writerly ire regarding prologues has fallen into that same trap where an author writes twisty, awkward, yoga sentences in order to completely avoid using the word "was." I see nothing wrong with a well-written prologue that helps to plop me into the action knowing a little bit about the framework of the world I'm entering, particularly in a space opera.

If you're concerned that the very word "Prologue" will trigger the venom, call it Chapter 1 and give it a date stamp (either precise or "xxxx years ago . . . .). Then give Chapter 2 a date stamp (either precise or "Present day . . . .)." Stealth prologue. I don't think readers who aren't writers really give a rat's behind.


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Offline Jeff Tanyard

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2018, 01:41:36 PM »
I am launching my own space opera "Machine" and it has a prologue. But in my case, the prologue is an event with a different character set hundreds of years before the bulk of the novel. IMHO that's how prologues work best. They are the spark that lights a fire.


This.  The Eye of the World, for example, has a prologue of that sort, and I happen to like it a lot.


I know that sci-fi readers are a different breed, less concerned with editing issues, etc.


I'm not sure what you mean by this, but it sounds like you're insulting your target audience.  If that's not your intent, then you might want to clarify it a bit.
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Offline Guy Riessen

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2018, 02:21:18 PM »
I spread it out a little so it wasn't so "dump"  :P ! LOL! Had to say it!

So I researched a little and found that most sci-fi readers don't mind the prologue. Think the scrolling screen at the beginning of Star Wars
[/quote]

Be careful about "spread[ing]it out" because the reason why they were able to initially get away with it in Star Wars: A New Hope is because it was a very tiny part of the whole movie experience.  It was, in fact, just three paragraphs. And the main reason why they could do it in any of the following movies is because they did it in the first one.

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Offline Dean Kutzler

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2018, 02:35:50 PM »
I'm not sure what you mean by this, but it sounds like you're insulting your target audience.  If that's not your intent, then you might want to clarify it a bit.

Oh no, not at all and I don't see how my comment does that. But through the research I've done, genres have different types of readers. For instance, readers of space opera aren't as concerned with the science behind things as their counter part audience, hardcore science fiction readers want solid or at least plausible explanations on how things work.

I've read from many successful author in the space opera community that their readers rarely call out their typos, grammar mistakes and such, because they are more into the story. Now, if you miss hitting any tropes in space opera, they're all over it and you'll see lower starred reviews.

That is all I meant and hope that clarifies my comment. I don't want to anger the audience with a prologue if it isn't what they're expecting. I want them to keep reading and if they roll their eyes at prologues, that won't happen.

There are some great ideas above that I'll have to think over. :D
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Offline randallcfloyd

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2018, 02:45:56 PM »
I use prologues when the beginning of my story is a little bit slow to set up the ordinary world. It is always some kind of genre-specific scene that let the readers know right off the bat that the story is right for them. It could be an action scene, a tragic scene. The question I always ask when I am considering a prologue is "Will this pay off in a big way at some point in the story?" If not, I either write a different prologue or find some way to spice up the first chapter of my story.

Another way to look at a prologue is as an insurance policy. If it's gripping, well-written, and really sparks a lot of interest, your readers will be more than willing to stick with you an extra chapter or two longer than a slow first chapter.

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2018, 02:45:57 PM »
Could you make the prologue less infodump and more an actual scene showing the info you want? The more action and dialogue you have in there, the less people will care that you have a prologue.
     

Offline randallcfloyd

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2018, 02:51:00 PM »
Just to add a little bit more here ... think about it from a reader's perspective. They are going to assume that you put the prologue in there for a reason. You need to know what that reason is, and you need to make sure you deliver.

It's going to be their first impression of your book, and it's going to stick with them, especially if it nails the genre tropes. It's going to sit there in the back of their mind, because all of your readers are going to, consciously or subconsciously, come to some conclusion about why you put that stinking prologue in there. If you don't deliver at some point in the book, the reader is never going to have that "AH-HA" moment where your reasons for putting in there in the first place are made patently clear ...

I should probably stop right there - or I might be typing for a while.

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2018, 03:03:46 PM »
Oh no, not at all and I don't see how my comment does that. But through the research I've done, genres have different types of readers. For instance, readers of space opera aren't as concerned with the science behind things as their counter part audience, hardcore science fiction readers want solid or at least plausible explanations on how things work.

I've read from many successful author in the space opera community that their readers rarely call out their typos, grammar mistakes and such, because they are more into the story. Now, if you miss hitting any tropes in space opera, they're all over it and you'll see lower starred reviews.

That is all I meant and hope that clarifies my comment. I don't want to anger the audience with a prologue if it isn't what they're expecting. I want them to keep reading and if they roll their eyes at prologues, that won't happen.

There are some great ideas above that I'll have to think over. :D


Gotcha.  Thanks for clarifying.   :)
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Offline Jack Krenneck

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2018, 03:09:36 PM »
Prologues are fine. Even infodumps are fine. The key is to make them hooky. If they're not hooky, then they won't work. Then again, a standard chapter 1 that isn't hooky won't work either.

As usual, success is more about an effective use of a particular technique than the technique in itself.

Just my 2 cents.

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2018, 04:37:09 PM »
My fantasy novel uses a prologue since that event took place many years in the past and was the setup for the whole story. However, I put the reader right in the event as it happened instead of rattling off some dry 'one thousand years ago a terrible event happened that blah blah'. I think readers became leery of prologues because too many authors feel the need to put dry history of the world infodumps there. And nobody wants to read that no matter what label the chapter has.

Offline Jena H

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2018, 05:06:50 PM »
I don't read space opera (not even sure what it is) but I'd suggest taking a look at the top sellers in the genre.  If a respectable number of books have prologues, then go ahead and put in a prologue.

A couple of my MG adventures have prologues.  They're not infodumps--er, I mean background info--but instead they're action scenes.  The books involve time travel, and the prologues take place in the past.

Most importantly, I keep the prologue short.  As short as possible.  Even though the scene doesn't directly involve the book's main characters, it sets the tone for everything that happens during their adventure.
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Offline ShayneRutherford

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2018, 05:29:06 PM »
Prologues are fine. Even infodumps are fine. The key is to make them hooky. If they're not hooky, then they won't work. Then again, a standard chapter 1 that isn't hooky won't work either.

As usual, success is more about an effective use of a particular technique than the technique in itself.

Just my 2 cents.


If infodumps were hooky,  no one would ever complain about them in the first place.
     

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2018, 05:34:53 PM »
Most people who rail against prologues are writers who heard it from other writers. If your book calls for a prologue, make it a prologue. If you're worried about the label, don't call it a prologue. Just start the story. Put the title on the page, go down to the point where your chapters will start on the page, jump in. At the end of that, start chapter 1.


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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2018, 05:38:32 PM »
I don't read space opera (not even sure what it is)


Star Wars and Babylon 5 are examples of space opera.  It's sort of like an SF version of epic fantasy.  Here's the Wikipedia definition:

Quote
Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, chivalric romance, and risk-taking. Set mainly or entirely in outer space, it usually involves conflict between opponents possessing advanced abilities, futuristic weapons, and other sophisticated technology.
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Offline wheart

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2018, 06:25:42 PM »
I've written in the thriller genre, and mostly prologues are taboo. At least what I've learned.

Well you should unlearn that, my dear, or else you might want to tell the TOP 100 Thriller bestsellers that, since many obviously don't know it's taboo :P

If big name authors are using them, why shouldn't you?

Whenever I read authors spouting so-called rules, I always check out multiple sources (and especially the bestseller authors' works) and determine for myself what's true.

Here are just a few Thrillers on the TOP 100 with prologues (I didn't get past the 2nd page):

The Girls
The Secret History
Beware the Past
The Gender Game
The Dead Key
Origin
In the Clearing
The Atlantis Gene
The Memory of Butterflies
The People vs Alex Cross
In the Waning Light

If these bestselling authors are writing prologues, I'd disregard whomever are calling them 'taboo' and refrain from spreading that type nonsense, lol :)

As some have said here, do what your heart tells you. If you feel a prologue suits the opening, go for it. Most readers won't judge your book just because you have a prologue. It takes more than that to ruin a reader's experience, right?
« Last Edit: January 12, 2018, 06:33:20 PM by wheart »

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2018, 07:23:32 PM »

Star Wars and Babylon 5 are examples of space opera.  It's sort of like an SF version of epic fantasy.  Here's the Wikipedia definition:

Thanks for the info.  But to me, it's plain old sci-fi.
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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #23 on: January 12, 2018, 07:43:05 PM »

If infodumps were hooky,  no one would ever complain about them in the first place.

People complain about lots of things...

But if you don't think infodumps can be hooky, how about this as an example? The Lord of the Rings commences with an infodump of about 18 pages. It's so long that it's subdivided into headings such as Concerning Hobbits, Concerning Pipe-weed and Of the Ordering of the Shire. It is, well, the infodump to rule all infodumps.

Some people complain about it. Some people complain about TLOTR itself. Most people lap it up. All I can say is that Tolkien knew a thing or two about hookiness, and his techniques to make an infodump hooky are in plain sight for anyone who cares to study them.

Oh, I should mention - the infodump comes in the form of a prologue too.

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #24 on: January 12, 2018, 08:02:00 PM »
If the beta readers said it should be a prologue that means they felt it was separate from the main story. In that case - is it necessary?

As a reader, I usually skip prologues because I want the meat of the story right away and I assume it's some political/philosophical nonsense that the writer thought he needed.

So I'd take a good look at the first chapter and see why it put them off.

The fact that it's separate from the main story doesn't necessarily mean it put them off. It may just have felt different enough for them to prefer a separate designation for it.

And I've never understood people who skip prologues. I mean, I get that if you read a couple pages of it and it's full of nothing or an infodump you'd skip, but flat-out skipping it without giving it a chance can reduce your understanding or even enjoyment of a novel. Prologues have historically been used, and are still used to this day, sometimes to good effect. A few examples off the top of my head would be:

- Gaiman and Pratchett used it in Good Omens, though titled "In the Beginning..." instead of "Prologue," to give us a small taste of what the book was about. It was short, dialogue-oriented, and funny and did its job just well.
- Rowling, writing as Galbraith, used it to effect in The Cuckoo's Calling, showing us the crime her MC would later investigate and its immediate aftermath from the point of view of the press and I believe an eyewitness. Just as well, it set the table for what was to come - and skipping it would have meant losing a lot of info on the book's main plotline. She also did try to have a prologue to Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but turned it into the first chapter instead precisely because she feared some people would skip it. To me, that chapter is very much a prologue.
- Riggs used it in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, allowing his MC to introduce us to his grandfather and the stories he used to tell, thus setting the theme of the novel.
- George R R Martin used it in A Game of Thrones to foreshadow the themes of the storyline that would follow.
- Then there's Tolkien, who simply threw a poem at you to draw you in - that was a prologue.

My point is, prologues can be used to great effect and at times a story can call for the opening scene to be labeled so as it feels entirely different from the rest of the story. I've never written a novel with a prologue nor am I planning to, but that's because of the type of fiction I write. If ever I felt a prologue would be good for a book I'm writing I would go for it and if anyone skips it, it's their loss. The current trend of no prologues at all, while based on a good idea (ie, keeping novice writers from starting with infodumps or dreams or scenes that turn out to be the final encounter between two sides and that require most of the book to be a flashback,) it is hurting authors too by putting a limit on what they can do with their novels and how they can alter the flow of it.

If you need a prologue, use a prologue. Make sure you're using it for the right reason and put it there. It's your book, and the "no prologues" rule is as absurd as the "no adverbs" one.

Offline ShayneRutherford

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #25 on: January 12, 2018, 09:22:50 PM »
People complain about lots of things...

But if you don't think infodumps can be hooky, how about this as an example? Oh, I should mention - the infodump comes in the form of a prologue too.

I think by their very definition, infodumps are not hooky. If the information was presented in an interesting way, people wouldn't call it a dump.
     

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #26 on: January 12, 2018, 09:44:18 PM »
I think by their very definition, infodumps are not hooky. If the information was presented in an interesting way, people wouldn't call it a dump.

I agree.
I think the question should be "does it work as the first page of the book?"
If yes, then call it whatever you want. If not, then you've got a bigger problem to solve.
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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #27 on: January 12, 2018, 10:01:53 PM »

Whenever I read authors spouting so-called rules, I always check out multiple sources (and especially the bestseller authors' works) and determine for myself what's true.


Yep. I always pay more attention to what people do than what they say one should do (or even what they say they do). Surprising how often those things don't match up, far beyond writing but in life in general. Forget what's said by people too eager to tell you what they are. Watch them instead.

Online kw3000

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #28 on: January 12, 2018, 11:16:44 PM »
No. No. No. This is writing and in writing there are concrete rules that MUST be followed. Failure to follow these rules means you are not a writer, but merely a word-putter-downer.

1. No prologues. Ever.
2. No adverbs.
3. No writing on Saturday.
4. No outlining.
5. Only use prologues when you feel you must.
6. Use adverbs sparingly or excessively or moderately, but it has to be one of those three.
7. Write everyday.
8. Outline extensively.
9. Never use adverbs in your prologues, unless you have to.
10. Never outline on a Saturday, but also never not outline on weekends.
11. Never feed a Mogwai after midnight.
12. Do or do not, there is no try.
13. CCR is better than The Eagles everyday of the week and twice on Sunday.

Glad we've cleared that up.

Ken Ward

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #29 on: January 13, 2018, 12:13:41 AM »
No. No. No. This is writing and in writing there are concrete rules that MUST be followed. Failure to follow these rules means you are not a writer, but merely a word-putter-downer.

1. No prologues. Ever.
2. No adverbs.
3. No writing on Saturday.
4. No outlining.
5. Only use prologues when you feel you must.
6. Use adverbs sparingly or excessively or moderately, but it has to be one of those three.
7. Write everyday.
8. Outline extensively.
9. Never use adverbs in your prologues, unless you have to.
10. Never outline on a Saturday, but also never not outline on weekends.
11. Never feed a Mogwai after midnight.
12. Do or do not, there is no try.
13. CCR is better than The Eagles everyday of the week and twice on Sunday.

Glad we've cleared that up.

You've done it. You've uncovered the secrets.

Offline wheart

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #30 on: January 13, 2018, 12:21:44 AM »
11. Never feed a Mogwai after midnight.

Dang, I just broke this rule tonight! :(

Wait a minute ...

*goes to check the bestsellers list to see if any bestselling author has done this*
« Last Edit: January 13, 2018, 12:25:59 AM by wheart »

Offline Kenson

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #31 on: January 13, 2018, 12:38:32 AM »
I put a prologue in the first book of a trilogy.  I tried not to because I'd been told that prologues were 'bad'.  But by the time i got to about chap 3, the story needed some background that the central character simply didn't know.  So I extracted all the complicated flashbacks that weren't really working and put them in a prologue, and the whole story works better for it.
For what it's worth, I'm putting an epilogue at the end of the third book, to wrap up the loose ends after the main action has finished. But that's probably a whole different thread.
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Offline Jack Krenneck

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #32 on: January 13, 2018, 12:52:19 AM »
I think by their very definition, infodumps are not hooky. If the information was presented in an interesting way, people wouldn't call it a dump.

Well, that's an opinion.

To be clear, I'm not suggesting that people should write infodumps. Just that it's possible to make them interesting and hooky. And I backed up my opinion with a pretty good example. Another example would be news stories (online or old-school). They're pure infodumps, and people lap them up.

Infodums have a bad name. So do prologues. So do adverbs. So does passive voice. So do lots of things. This is because they're often misused, but not because there's anything intrinsically wrong with them. It all comes down to execution.

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #33 on: January 13, 2018, 03:42:37 AM »
I love a good prologue.  But I actually don't have one for my almost-space-opera book that I'm currently writing.  I felt that because space operas were more action orientated (although this one is about a main character who suffers from anxiety issues, so isn't actually that action-y) it was more important to do the whole in media res thing.

T E Scott

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #34 on: January 13, 2018, 04:30:51 AM »
I'm a reader and writer of space opera and I'm going to agree with a lot of other people here and say space opera prologues can work well, but they have to be compelling. If you're just feeding information to explain the setting, I would do that another way. Plenty of space opera readers enjoy figuring out how the fictional universe works without having it spoonfed. If you do want a quick initial infodump, one thing I saw that worked well was to present it almost like a book pitch with a story problem and call to action. Can't remember what book I'm thinking of now, but it was science fiction.

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #35 on: January 13, 2018, 05:11:43 AM »
No. No. No. This is writing and in writing there are concrete rules that MUST be followed. Failure to follow these rules means you are not a writer, but merely a word-putter-downer.

1. No prologues. Ever.
2. No adverbs.
3. No writing on Saturday.
4. No outlining.
5. Only use prologues when you feel you must.
6. Use adverbs sparingly or excessively or moderately, but it has to be one of those three.
7. Write everyday.
8. Outline extensively.
9. Never use adverbs in your prologues, unless you have to.
10. Never outline on a Saturday, but also never not outline on weekends.
11. Never feed a Mogwai after midnight.
12. Do or do not, there is no try.
13. CCR is better than The Eagles everyday of the week and twice on Sunday.

Glad we've cleared that up.

Welp, today's Saturday, so I guess I'll have to put my feet up and enjoy an adult beverage instead of sitting at my laptop.  Darn the luck!

And #13....   I'll drink to that.   8)
Jena

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #36 on: January 13, 2018, 06:15:27 AM »
Interesting stuff!!
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Offline Dean Kutzler

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #37 on: January 13, 2018, 09:22:23 AM »
 :o WOW! Thanks guys! There is seriously some awesome suggestions, clarifications and informative posts here! I appreciate that! I like them all and am seriously thinking about either just making it the 1st chapter so I can avoid it altogether and adding a prior date as someone suggested, then chapter two in the present or...Using the info in an enticing way in my marketing.

Really helpful (and some seriously funny shiznit) suggestions! Thanks again! :D
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Offline sceptique

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #38 on: January 13, 2018, 10:15:00 AM »
If you do want a quick initial infodump, one thing I saw that worked well was to present it almost like a book pitch with a story problem and call to action.

In my present book I've put all background info the reader needs to know into the blurb that goes onto the book's marketing page.
Three sentences. That's should be enough IMO to orient the reader in time and space before they begin at the beginning.
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Offline dgcasey

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #39 on: January 13, 2018, 10:37:49 AM »
The current world (and story) I want to tell is the result of something that happened in the past. I didn't want to focus on the past by building it into the story. The bad event already happened and I may do a short story of it, but I really didn't want to clog up the action of this book.

I agree to go ahead and use a prologue if you want, especially in the manner which you did. I have a prologue at the beginning of Wicked Rising that is the same as what you alluded to. It happens in the past, before the main story begins. I'm not going to put it in the book as Chapter One, because then I'd probably have to start Chapter Two with "Five hundred years later ..." As a matter of fact, I put in the prologue and then a right side page that has the title of the book on it, then start with Chapter One. I can see the end of the third book in the trilogy having an epilogue when I'm finished.
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Offline dgcasey

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #40 on: January 13, 2018, 10:42:17 AM »
Dang, I just broke this rule tonight! :(

Wait a minute ...

*goes to check the bestsellers list to see if any bestselling author has done this*

Just keep them darn critters away from the swimming pool.  ;)
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Offline Don DeBon

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #41 on: January 13, 2018, 10:46:51 AM »
In my humble opinion, write them as if it was your first chapter with a hook and good story telling not an info-dump.  Also make sure to write it so that it is an addition to the story that is great if there, but still makes sense if it isn't.  The reason I say this is: many people will SKIP over a prologue.  Therefore have it as a great appetizer but no problem if they skip to the main course.

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Offline wheart

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #42 on: January 13, 2018, 11:08:31 AM »
Just keep them darn critters away from the swimming pool.  ;)

Ack! Is this another dang rule?!! ??? :D

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Re: SPACE OPERA: PROLOGUE OR NOT TO PROLOGUE - THAT IS MY QUESTION
« Reply #43 on: January 13, 2018, 11:26:25 AM »
 My first book had a prologue, a dream sequence. I didn't have a reason for it. I was just writing and it's how it came out. But then in editing peeps told me to take it out, so I did. It didn't hurt the story any. In fact, it likely made it better.

 My current story has thousands of years of history that it would be cool if the reader knew about, but I'm not info-dumping it. The readers will find out what they need to know when they need to know it. Like in life itself. We're all born into a world with billions of years of history, but nobody sits us down and tells it all to us. Even though a lot of stuff has happened that we prolly ought to know. We only find out stuff when we need to know it and lots of stuff we never learn at all.

 Just my three skittles. :)