To Prologue or not to Prologue…that is my question.

Posted: January 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

I recently read an article on Writer’s Digest regarding the subject of prologues.  They suggest that the prologue is a retired writing style and that most likely I wouldn’t want to use it in todays writing community.  This creates a big problem for me.

Being a writer of paranormal based materials, usually a small portion of my novels take place in the past.  Some sort of horrible murder, or perhaps a witches action may create a problem or cast a spell that will come to fruition at some point in the future.  In my mind, this creates a need for a prologue.  Or does it?

How does one include a scene in ones novel regarding the history of an inanimate object or something else of the like that no one is still alive to relay the story of?  I suppose that it could be written in history books, or in some arcane language of some sort somewhere…It just doesn’t seem plausible to me to use this though.  To me, a prologue is a much more efficient way of presenting the information.

Again, looking for input here.  What do you think?  To prologue, or not to prologue?  Is it really passe’?

 

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Comments
  1. Devorah Fox says:

    I’ve read that you should begin the story where the action starts… and explain what you would have put in a Prologue in a flashback or the like once you get the story rolling.

  2. rockyfort says:

    I think it’s fairly simple: you do what it takes to tell the story! I love the Dirk Pitt Novels. All of them have prologues unless things have changed in the last year. If a prologue helps you tell your story, then use a prologue. If it doesn’t, then don’t. I could be entirely wrong, but if successful authors are using prologues and it helps the story, why take advice from someone who may not like them? (Reblogging on my literary blog, btw)

  3. rockyfort says:

    Reblogged this on Ice Cream Castles in the Air and commented:
    I commented thusly on the original blog: I think it’s fairly simple: you do what it takes to tell the story! I love the Dirk Pitt Novels. All of them have prologues unless things have changed in the last year. If a prologue helps you tell your story, then use a prologue. If it doesn’t, then don’t. I could be entirely wrong, but if successful authors are using prologues and it helps the story, why take advice from someone who may not like them?” So what do y’all think? Can we get a discussion going?

  4. Philly says:

    Hmmm that’s actually got me thinking about my own current novel. There is some background that might do better as a prologue than as a flash back or a long dialogue.

    • blondmyk says:

      You know Rockyfort, that’s what I’ve been thinking and telling myself. Why does it matter what the current “phase” of writing is proclaiming as politically correct. I’ve never been a PC type of person and have always used what has worked best for me. Devorah, I’m not sure what you mean. You mean you think I should write the story some other way and then when I pitch it i should explain that I wanted to put in a prologue to the agent or publisher? I agree with action, and that’s what I like about my prologues. They are always FILLED with action and can PULL the reader into the story. The problem is that it ends, and then we are left with introducing characters and looking for ways for them to chase down the prologue. Still…at least in my mind, a prologue can create incredible action because you don’t have to build it, but rather can just start in the heat of the action. Thoughts?

  5. rockyfort says:

    I think what Devorah is saying is that you begin the story in the midst of the action. Then later on in place of the prologue, the character muses about how all this began in flash back as in, “He looked out over the carnage and shook his head sadly. This didn’t have to happen. If only the warlord had not fallen into that drain pipe ten years ago. His mind wandered back to that time. As boys they had played together constantly. Then one day, on a dare, he had taken the rope swing. Little did he know the rope was frayed and it broke as he swung over the drain pipe. His screams echoed through the whole valley as he tumbled down the pipe. While the whole village searched for him, he had stopped at a bend in the pipe. It was there he had met the man who cast a spell on him that would only take effect upon ascendance to the chief of his tribe. Once there, he became the evil man that had destroyed his family….” Obviously with more details.

    My feeling is that sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. And, on the other hand…what about epilogues?

  6. rockyfort says:

    LOL! I guess that means that I have a writing assignment then!

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