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Prologues : Tips and Advice • Page 4 • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Prologues

Here's the place to share a writing or marketing tip you've used successfully and want to pass along.
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ostarella
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Re: Prologues

Postby ostarella » Thu Oct 26, 2017 12:24 pm

Okay, last comment and then I'm done.

I did not attack Janet Reid. I disagreed with her opinion and stated my opinion of ANY agent who has automatic disqualifiers which have nothing to do with the actual writing.

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updog
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Re: Prologues

Postby updog » Thu Oct 26, 2017 5:06 pm

I just have to jump in here to say that Janet does NOT say prologues should never be used. She says she hates them and doesn't read them in a manuscript, but she doesn't say she doesn't read the rest of the submission. Sure, she says leave the prologue out of the query if chapter one will make sense without it, but she specifically says "if." She goes on to explain that reading a query is different than reading a book for pleasure, so that suggests she's not saying prologues have no place in novels or that including one in your manuscript will ruin your chance at getting published. She's simply explaining why, under most circumstances, it's best to leave them out of queries.

Honestly, I don't care what agents are saying at workshops, I'm going to believe what I see with my own eyes, and what I see with my own eyes is agents make exceptions when the story and writing are awesome. I've never used a prologue in my own writing, but I know writers who have, and they still found agents. Good agents who helped them get book deals with "Big 5" publishers. So I'm not buying that prologues are forbidden in first novels. In fact, I'm here to declare there is no such law.

I know one first time writer who got requests for the full from multiple agents within hours of submitting her manuscript, and there were offers of representation in her inbox the next morning. Not only requests for the full, but OFFERS OF REPRESENTATION. It seemed so extraordinary I thought she was being scammed until she sent me the pages and I saw for myself what got the agents so excited. The prologue was fantastic, and I do not believe her manuscript would have gotten so much attention without it. Yes, I know what happened to her is a rarity and not likely to happen to most writers, but it still suggests to me that while a majority of agents may not like prologues, not ALL agents delete the query unread when one is used.

Another thing to remember is we don't need ALL or MOST agents to love our work. We just need one agent. The right one for our book. If you use a prologue, then it seems reasonable that the right agent for your book is one who is okay with prologues.
"Is it weird in here, or is it just me?" ~ Steven Wright



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wdarcy
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Re: Prologues

Postby wdarcy » Thu Oct 26, 2017 6:09 pm

Thank you, Updog, for such a clear, level-headed, and in my opinion *absolutely correct* take on this subject.

For what it's worth, I read Shadowwalker's posts and I cannot understand how anyone could interpret them as "demonizing" Janet Reid. That interpretation seems so off the wall I don't know what to do with it.

By the way, last July I actually met and chatted with Janet Reid at ThrillerFest. She read the query for the novel I was pitching and made valuable suggestions on how to make it stronger. She also read the first ten pages of my manuscript and pointed out things she thought could be improved. It was clear to me that she has very definite ideas on what should and should not occur in a manuscript. Probably most agents do. I rather doubt she would want to represent one of my novels. But my time with her was very productive, and I respect her greatly.

--Warren
"Wagner's 'Das Rheingold'" (Oxford 1993). Winner of the Society for Music Theory's Wallace Berry Award, 1995.

"Elements of Sonata Theory" co-authored with James Hepokoski(Oxford 2006). Winner of the Society for Music Theory's Wallace Berry Award, 2008.

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DrG2
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Re: Prologues

Postby DrG2 » Sat Oct 28, 2017 5:10 pm

deddmann_writing wrote:

> 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.

you really shouldn't speak for "most of us." Mainly because you're wrong, but also because it's impossible to know what most of us think, unless you took a survey or something.

RobTheThird
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Re: Prologues

Postby RobTheThird » Mon Oct 30, 2017 8:20 am

updog wrote:
> I just have to jump in here to say that Janet does NOT say prologues should
> never be used. She says she hates them and doesn't read them in a
> manuscript, but she doesn't say she doesn't read the rest of the
> submission. Sure, she says leave the prologue out of the query if chapter
> one will make sense without it, but she specifically says "if."
> She goes on to explain that reading a query is different than reading a
> book for pleasure, so that suggests she's not saying prologues have no
> place in novels or that including one in your manuscript will ruin your
> chance at getting published. She's simply explaining why, under most
> circumstances, it's best to leave them out of queries.

Agreed. That's what I was saying, too.

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Crono91
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Re: Prologues

Postby Crono91 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:27 am

Not to get all psychology, BUT, the "passion" toward for or against prologues kind of comes from cognitive dissonance. At one point we wanted to write a prologue, but convinced ourselves not to based off x, y, and z. However, because we "wanted" to write we, we have to convince ourselves why we didn't write one. Thus, we rely heavily on those x, y, and z, and also become a little more harsh toward those who do write one.

---

That said. I "personally" don't write or read prologues. It has to do more with my investment. A prologue--just like beginning with a flashback, or even an action scene without letting us know "who" the MC is--requires us to develop a certain amount of pre-investment into the story. As someone with so much to do, and so many forms of media calling my name, I'm not invested in any story from the beginning. So a prologue is just demanding amount of attention and patience that I don't really have haha.

That said, if I came across a book with a super crazy interesting plot where the blurb and word of mouth makes me knock on Barnes and Noble's door before the employees even get there to buy the book, then sure, I'll read the prologue paha.
Be proud of your mistakes when they form from blinding passion. But now edit them.

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Alice Holt
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Re: Prologues

Postby Alice Holt » Wed Nov 15, 2017 11:12 pm

Aaarghh! Okay, I put myself out there, prologue and all, in Thrillers and Suspense.

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