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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anyone used prologue/s here?

I'm planning to use the Prologue for my next work.  The book opens with a Prologue in 2012, which happens to be the climax.  Chapter 1 goes back to winter 1992 and then the novel progresses to 2012.  It then ends where the prologue begins.

I personally have seen that movie prologues, tend to get forgotten, when one gets engrossed in the movie.  I imagine that book prologues are the same way.

Any thoughts?
 

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I started my second book with a prologue, being a firm believer that the protagonist should be in the first chapter, and she appeared in the second chapter. However, since all my chapters have titles, I dropped changed the title of the prologue to the name of the protagonist, because she is being discussed by the characters in the prologue who appear to be setting her up.

If you publish your chapters 'out of chronological order', you might not need a 'prologue', but simply put PRESENT DAY above the prologue and TWO MONTHS EARLIER above the next chapter, so readers won't be confused about the order of the events.

If your prologue is a collection of exposition and backstory, you're better off cutting it into little pieces and scattering it through the book. Or on the waters of Lethe.
 

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Some authors swear by them; others hate them. It depends on what you're trying to write and what makes you more comfortable. The one thing writers most often agree on when it comes to prologues is to avoid an infodump. For example if you have a fantasy series, don't lay out a brief history of the world before the first chapter.

In your case, I have doubts that beginning with the end is worth it. I've seen it as a device, and never much cared for it. It does somewhat ruin suspense, no matter how much the reader forgets.
 

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I'm in the final edits of the second book in my series. After much internal strife, I finally decided to put a short prologue in, simply because the first book was so big and I wanted to jump right into the next part of the story, but it felt like a refresher was needed. I'm still questioning that decision...
 

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rubyscribe said:
Has anyone used prologue/s here?
I used a prologue in Heart of Stone (but called it a 'Prelude') and another in Navel of the Moon (wip). Each is about 800 words. The prologue in HoS includes the title character and includes his motivation. You can read it at Amazon without buying the book. Clink the cover below and then "Click to LOOK INSIDE!" Or download the sample.

In HoS, Part I begins 5 years after the Prelude.

In NotM, Chapter 1 begins 18 years after the Prelude.


rubyscribe said:
I'm planning to use the Prologue for my next work. The book opens with a Prologue in 2012, which happens to be the climax. Chapter 1 goes back to winter 1992 and then the novel progresses to 2012. It then ends where the prologue begins.
I have no idea how to begin with the climax and then work up to it. If you can pull off this bit of literary magic, I shall be astounded and shall want to read it.

rubyscribe said:
I personally have seen that movie prologues, tend to get forgotten, when one gets engrossed in the movie. I imagine that book prologues are the same way.
Yeah, movie prologues do tend to get forgotten 'cause they have a tacked-on feeling. That happened with the movie John Carter. The first 5 minutes are wasted.

More so than books, movies are linear storytellers. Slaughterhouse Five tried to tell a linear story in a non-linear fashion. Kinda worked, kinda didn't.

But Arthur Clarke wrote "A Meeting with Medusa" with a prologue. The story would not have worked without it. Robert Heinlein wrote Starship Troopers with a prologue -- although it was not called such. The prologue set the hook; the story after starts slow. Stuart Woods wrote Chiefs with a throw-away prologue that begins "The boy ran for his life." The boy in the prologue dies at the end of it and plays a small role in the rest of the story. It was tacked on after the book was written. (I know this to be so. I asked Mr Woods.) Chapter 1 reads slow. The prologue set a hook that kept me reading through the slow parts.

My thoughts? Some people say prologues don't work. What they really mean is "I don't know how to work a prologue." Fine. A lot of stories have been written without prologues.

But some top-flight names have written prologues in some top-flight stories. It can be done.

YMMV.
 

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Yes, I have used them in a couple of the books in my Gastien series.
 

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My Timekeepers books both have prologues.  They're not 'required,' and the reader won't miss anything by not reading them, but in both cases the prologues provide backstory and flesh out the story a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
antares said:
I have no idea how to begin with the climax and then work up to it. If you can pull off this bit of literary magic, I shall be astounded and shall want to read it.

YMMV.[/size][/font]
Heh! Time will tell ...... My muse is unsure at the moment!
 

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I cannot stress this enough: Go with your gut about what your story needs or doesn't need. Originally, before I published Based on a Dream: Treehugger, I had a prologue. Then I saw so many articles, comments, etc, that practically forbid using them, that I chickened out, cut the prologue, and added key points to my first two chapters. Then I published. Huuuge mistake. My story takes place in different times and places, but it does not take place during the beginning of the core character's experience of being who she is. I needed that prologue to give a short glimpse of what the reader is really dealing with by entering Chloe/Star's world. I rewrote that prologue, made it even shorter, and added it back in, along with a glossary (another thing so many people told me was a big no-no.) I've had a great response from readers who finally read the prologue, and better responses from those new to it who read it with the prologue in the first place. With the prologue, my readers were able to enter Chloe's world with a better sense of what she was by seeing her actually become the unusual person she is. I have another book (mainstream fiction) that I have outlined and couldn't imagine needing a prologue for it. But for fantasy/scifi? Sometimes the reader needs a quick explanation of something before the story can really begin. I'm still ticked at myself for not going with my gut earlier. The second part to my series will have a prologue as well. This time, I'll be using it to give readers a glimpse into something Chloe doesn't remember or understand until later. Sometimes it's fun for the reader to have an outside understanding of a character's plight before the character does.
Advice from writers and readers is indispensable, however...when people get into the "You musts" and "you must nevers," it's time to look at those who "broke the rules" and became successful anyway. Even Twilight's Stephenie Meyer broke the rules by submitting a manuscript waaay over what is deemed an acceptable YA length. I don't see her crying.
 
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There is both a prologue and epilogue in A Game of Blood. The novel is written from a very strict POV. The prologue and epilogue gave me a chance to show a little of what the antagonist was up to and sort of serve as bookends for the main novel. They aren't essential to the main story, but fill in some blanks and set up the reader for the sequel (kind of like the snippets that run at the end of big movies do). The Doom Guardian, on the other hand, uses neither because it wouldn't have brought any added value to the book.
 

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If your story starts slow-ish because you have to introduce something about the characters then a Prologue (or just chapter 1) could help the reader with action right away and possibly foreshadowing of the evil forces at work that the protagonist won't uncover for a few chapters. Seems like the Thriller genre uses more Prologues than other genres.
I'd avoid putting your climactic scene (even if a cliffhanger) in the Prologue though.
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I keep hearing and reading about how much people hate prologues: "ALL" prologues are boring, pointless, something I skip entirely, week writing from an amateur who can't incorporate X, Y and Z elsewhere in the story.

But like a lot of other so called rules about what should and shouldn't be done "these days" (third person, passive voice, etc.) as soon as I read someone's disertation on the rule, I pick up a book where the exact opposite is done to marvelous effect, and not just from Patterson/King types either.

I like prologues, but that's just me. 
 
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