Prologues

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Alice Holt
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Prologues

Postby Alice Holt » Sun Oct 22, 2017 11:48 am

I sure do love critiquing and there may be some who can't wait to take a whack at me. But I have a prologue. I read the web site main article about prologues and mine fits every category of a good and necessary prologue. It is short, it is the pivotal point in the story, it enhances the plot that is to come. My story is about a high school girl who joins the National Guard to get money for college and ends up in Iraq instead. So I have about fifty pages establishing her wonderful life before it comes crashing down, and I need the prologue to set up that this is at heart a military novel about a 20-year old girl stuck in the Battle of Fallujah. I don't want my post to turn into a robust discussion of the use of prologues. And if I have to explain why I am using a prologue at the top of the page, I feel I have already failed. But I want to post the prologue and then maybe 50 words from the first chapter so readers can see the jump from prologue to present, otherwise it is out of context, because prologues don't stand alone, do they? What to do?

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ostarella
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Re: Prologues

Postby ostarella » Sun Oct 22, 2017 11:53 am

I would just post it for critique, perhaps with a reminder that it's not a discussion about prologues. And of course, if someone diverts to that, you can either just ignore it or report it, whichever you choose.

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Re: Prologues

Postby deddmann_writing » Sun Oct 22, 2017 12:17 pm

Alice Holt wrote:
> I sure do love critiquing and there may be some who can't wait to take a
> whack at me. But I have a prologue. I read the web site main article about
> prologues and mine fits every category of a good and necessary prologue. It
> is short, it is the pivotal point in the story, it enhances the plot that
> is to come. My story is about a high school girl who joins the National
> Guard to get money for college and ends up in Iraq instead. So I have about
> fifty pages establishing her wonderful life before it comes crashing down,
> and I need the prologue to set up that this is at heart a military novel
> about a 20-year old girl stuck in the Battle of Fallujah. I don't want my
> post to turn into a robust discussion of the use of prologues. And if I
> have to explain why I am using a prologue at the top of the page, I feel I
> have already failed. But I want to post the prologue and then maybe 50
> words from the first chapter so readers can see the jump from prologue to
> present, otherwise it is out of context, because prologues don't stand
> alone, do they? What to do?
=========

So post it already. The worst that happens is that folks ignore it.

The problem with prologues are that many readers skip to chapter 1 to start reading immediately.

50 pages establishing anything sounds incredibly slow and boring. Was establishing the word you really meant?


I found a number of things about prologue at WD. Which one did you refer to?:

One of them says this:
You can use a prologue , but it’s used only to explain key information that doesn’t follow the time flow of the rest of your book. So if your “prologue” doesn’t fit this criterion, either cut it or change it to Chapter 1.

Does that fit your case ?

Another says this:
Prologues aren’t inherently evil or indicative of poor writing. Prologues can—and have been—executed with skill. But are they necessary?
That, in my opinion, is the biggest question—not “should I write a prologue” but “does a prologue improve my story?”

So does it improve your story ?

Would a flashback work better? Would just letting it out slowly with the narration work better?

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Alice Holt
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Re: Prologues

Postby Alice Holt » Sun Oct 22, 2017 10:17 pm

There are a hundred ways to organize a novel. I could call it Chapter One and then go into flashback mode. But as it stands,the Prologue is a scene that actually happens in the middle of the book when she finally realizes how screwed up she is and needs to get help. The fifty pages is the set-up for her new life straddling the military-civilian divide. It wasn't boring to write it, and not boring when I read it, and my trusted beta reader loves it. She said she wanted to experience my character's life before I destroy it. I tried writing it backwards and then in alternating past and present chapters. The straight narrative just seems to flow better.

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Re: Prologues

Postby RobTheThird » Mon Oct 23, 2017 8:27 am

I'm one of the radical anti-prologue-ists. It's based on my experience as a reader. But I'm not the kind to say that what I believe is the only way.

Here's what I experience as a reader: A prologue is an artificial construct. It's trying to make me see something. But I want to discover the story and the characters therein. I've yet to read a prologue that I thought needed to be there. Yes, some have been well written, even excellent. But I, personally, have always felt like the writer could not trust me to follow the story.

I acknowledge, however, that I am a minority in that attitude.

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ostarella
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Re: Prologues

Postby ostarella » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:35 am

Yeah, being a writer, I, as a reader, trust the writer. If they put in a prologue, I know it's because they - and their agent and publisher - thought it should be there. Some are good, some not so good - but then there are chapters scattered through books that are good and not so good.

There are as many reasons to use a prologue as not - but the one reason a writer should not not use one is because some readers might skip them.

T.A.Rodgers
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Re: Prologues

Postby T.A.Rodgers » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:53 am

I like prologues from a stand point that they are not part of any future chapter. For instance James Rollins uses them where he give a history type prologue set several hundred years prior to the story. They are always enjoyable to read and gets you ready for the adventure he's about to tell.

I've never skipped a prologue in my life. I think that short changes the author. Instead of being critical about whether it needs to be there, I read it for the sake of enjoying the novel. I've never read a prologue and thought it shouldn't be there, but then I've never read a self published novel, so maybe that's why.

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Re: Prologues

Postby T.A.Rodgers » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:59 am

ostarella wrote:
> Yeah, being a writer, I, as a reader, trust the writer. If they put in a
> prologue, I know it's because they - and their agent and publisher -
> thought it should be there. Some are good, some not so good - but then
> there are chapters scattered through books that are good and not so good.
>
> There are as many reasons to use a prologue as not - but the one reason a
> writer should not not use one is because some readers might skip them.

I agree with all of this. :D

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Re: Prologues

Postby deddmann_writing » Mon Oct 23, 2017 11:01 am

Alice Holt wrote:
> There are a hundred ways to organize a novel. I could call it Chapter One
> and then go into flashback mode. But as it stands,the Prologue is a scene
> that actually happens in the middle of the book when she finally realizes
> how screwed up she is and needs to get help. The fifty pages is the set-up
> for her new life straddling the military-civilian divide. It wasn't boring
> to write it, and not boring when I read it, and my trusted beta reader
> loves it. She said she wanted to experience my character's life before I
> destroy it. I tried writing it backwards and then in alternating past and
> present chapters. The straight narrative just seems to flow better.
===========

We have a failure to communicate. Most folks think of a prologue as a short introductory background info dump before chapter one.

Something in the middle is not a prologue to us. You either integrate that information into things or do a flashback or somesuch but it is not a prologue as most of us use that word.

deddmann_writing
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Re: Prologues

Postby deddmann_writing » Mon Oct 23, 2017 11:02 am

RobTheThird wrote:
> I'm one of the radical anti-prologue-ists. It's based on my experience as
> a reader. But I'm not the kind to say that what I believe is the only way.
>
> Here's what I experience as a reader: A prologue is an artificial
> construct. It's trying to make me see something. But I want to discover
> the story and the characters therein. I've yet to read a prologue that I
> thought needed to be there. Yes, some have been well written, even
> excellent. But I, personally, have always felt like the writer could not
> trust me to follow the story.
>
> I acknowledge, however, that I am a minority in that attitude.
============

Or the writer did not trust themselves enough to be able to write the story so you could follow it without the prologue.

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