PROLOUGES: Pro or Anti?

August 15, 2008 at 5:04 pm 12 comments

I used to believe that prologues where good and okay. Birds chirped a lot for me then, too. Then I read one where the heroine gets in a car accident and meets the hero by happenstance.

Then a year later…

WTF? Really, WTF?

And then I began to notice more and more pointless prologues. I started to look at the lone one I had and saw it as the same thing. The prologue wouldn’t make sense until the very end of the book. So, why in the hell was I going to confuse my reader for the duration of a WHOLE entire book? The prologue’s purpose would defeat the whole enjoyment of the book because the reader would keep going, WTF was the prologue about?

Then I got the best definition of what a prologue is. Prologues are backstory. Yes, I hear the screams from the balcony that, “No, my prologue is not backstory.”

Why do I say this?

Because anything that happens before the “now” story is backstory. The now story is when the character is actively trying to attain their goal. *and when the antag starts to push back*

Yes, I was hesitant myself to agree to this theory. I stood by, “No, my prologue is really where the story starts. What happens changes everything in both the hero and heroine’s life. It’s the domino affect.”

And then the hard truth hit me. If that’s where the true story starts then why is there a stretch in time? Or even a change in POV to another character? If the story really starts in the prologue what is the character really doing in chapter 1? So, why don’t you just make it Chapter 2, because you’ve already set the foundation for the story.

But you can’t because it’s a prologue *coughbackstory*.

Now, I’m not trying to convince you of anything. I’m stating my POV sans soapbox.

…, what’s your stance on prologues?


Entry filed under: sans soapbox, writing.


12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Leigh Royals  |  August 15, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    Ok. I agree with you, BUT, i like the prologue, when done right. In my current wip, the prologue of course, is backstory, but it clues you in to the character’s motivation. I didn’t have one originally, I did an info dump in the first chapter which explained everything. That is worse. So I cut out the rest and made a prologue.

    We’ll see how it goes. It’s out right now ‘for consideration.’ Ok. it’s only in a contest, but who sees the entry? agents and editors. oh yeah.

  • 2. Melissa Blue  |  August 15, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    There is always a ‘but’.

    So, first let me congratulate you before I make you hate me. šŸ™‚ Because I lied. I’m so trying to bring people over to the dark side with me.

    but it clues you in to the character’s motivation.

    Now, my question can you clue the reader into the character’s motivation in Chapter 1, or Chapter 2, or…You know. I’ve read prologues that have been good. They’ve gripped me, but then they segue into Chapter 1 and it just doesn’t have the same feeling and I want to know how does the prologue fit with the rest of the story.

    And then I’m thinking if they had given Chapter 1-whatever the same feeling then there wouldn’t have been a need for the prologue and I would be throwing their book across the room. Or feeling cheated somehow.

    But (yup, there is a but) I stand by a writer getting the words down. It’s learning to sharpen the shears. *I’m still learning, so we’re all in the same boat.*

  • 3. Slave Driver  |  August 15, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    I tend to stay away from prologues because they make me look fat.

    I’m sorry, what was the question?

    I believe in gradual discovery which is why I felt beaten about the head and neck by an author why critiqued my first 15 pages not so long ago.

    So, prologue ’em if you’ve got ’em, I say.

    Did that help?

    I’m sorry, I have to go to work now and I’m sure I have a trainee for tonight. Yesterday when she came in she was wearing pink. Good thing Barbie comes with all her accessories…

    Slave Driver bangs her head against her desk to quiet the voices and because it’s fun

  • 4. Inez Kelley  |  August 15, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    I can handle them if they are a page or less. More than that and they bug the crap out of me. But I love epilogues.

  • 5. Melissa Blue  |  August 16, 2008 at 1:10 am

    Critiques are never fun. ((hugs))

  • 6. Melissa Blue  |  August 16, 2008 at 1:11 am

    Lol, Inez. I’ve started to just skip prologues.

  • 7. Leigh Royals  |  August 16, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Well, the time from the prologue and the first chapter is years. Like she starts at 5 and then she’s a young adult/late teen.

  • 8. Jennifer McKenzie  |  August 16, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    I got nothing. Both my romantic suspense books at WCPT have prologues. And yes, they are backstory. The first one explains what the whole mystery is and the second one ties the first and the second book together.
    *shrugs* I probably could have done it without prologues but I like ’em. LOL.

  • 9. Nell  |  August 16, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    They’re rarely necessary and often done badly so I’m not a fan.

  • 10. Melissa Blue  |  August 16, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    Leigh, Leigh, Leigh. Sigh. Lol. You know, I’ve just been traumatized by prologues. I once read a book that had not one, but two prolgoues. One was in the hero’s POV and the other in the heroine’s POV. And then after all that on chapter one it went…5 years later.

    I wanted to smack the author and the editor for letting them ride.

  • 11. Melissa Blue  |  August 16, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    I probably could have done it without prologues but I like ’em. LOL.

    Noooosss, not my Jen! Lol.

  • 12. Melissa Blue  |  August 16, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    Nell, I sometimes see prologues as a disclaimer: *This writer couldn’t find a better place to put it.*

    So, yeah, I totally see where you are coming from.

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