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In his book 'Guide To How To Hook An Agent,'  James Rennolldson discusses the pros and cons of using a prologue.

 

This interested me because in early drafts of Demons (Ragtag Souls)  I had one which linked to the final climaxed.  I have now removed it.

 

JR argues they are a thorny issue for agents/publishers because they require the reader to essentially have to start your book twice. 1st with the prologue and 2nd with the '1st chapter'

 

He gives the following guidelines for assessing the need for one.

 

1. Is it a short, memorable scene that whets the reader's appetite and is self-contained?

 

2. Does it steer clear of exposition?  Could the character's dynamics and scene setting be woven into the body of the story?

 

3. Is it intriguing?  Does it make the reader want to stick with restarting again with 1st Chapter of the main story or does ti act as a distraction between the reader and the story?

 

4. What are you trying to do in your prologue that can't be achieved  within the narrative of the story?

 

5. Are the contents of your prologue really worth the reader starting your book twice?

 

He goes on to stay that if you do include a prologue as long as it's short (1-3 pages) and has an intriguing hook, it wont be the reason your book is turned down.

 

For now, I have removed my prologue. The advantage of this is that it fits nicely in the latter chapters, it means my story starts chronologically in sequence, by having the 4th chapter as the 3rd one, it moves the story further on and overall the first 3 chapters are more representative of my writing style (the prologue I realised was different but it fits well into the later part of the book.)

 

Downside is that the beginning is less punchy. Although the story is moved further on by removing the prologue, the original chapter 3 had a great hook.

 

So, over to you guys - what are your views about prologus. I know they are pretty common i sc-fi, fantasy but less so in other genres. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I tend to be a bit skeptical of them, personally—even if the prologue itself is interesting, there’s that jarring moment when it ends and the real story begins—starting the same book twice is a good way to put it. That being said, I don’t think I could give a solid opinion unless I’d read both prologue and the entire following story.

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That is a sticky question with seemingly no clear answer. To me, it depends on many things. If it's the first book of a series I would say no or maybe. If not the first book, maybe or yes.

It comes down to what purpose it serves I guess. I've read some that had nothing to do with the beginning of the book so the question of why or when is in my head from the start. If it takes too long to tie in, I forget about it. But it did grab me enough to continue reading unless I get thrown too much when the first chapter starts.

 

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I remember my first experience with Ben Hur. We read it as a family. The prologue was the Birth story, which would be important for anyone who did not know it, but we all did. I could not convince Dad to get on into the story itself. After that, when I read the book to myself, I always skipped it. 

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Most prologues are done incorrectly, and most can be safely ignored. However, I've seen them done very well in the hands of seasoned authors, and when they're done well, they're brilliant. For instance, here's the Prologue to WISE MAN'S FEAR by Patrick Rothfuss.
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This single page re-introduces the reader to the Waystone Inn, to unnamed characters, and suggests a deep and powerful magic. It is a completely shameless tease, and practically launches the reader into the second Chapter 1.

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I'm writing a 1st Person Fantasy / Noir. In March, I turned my manuscript over to a Story Grid Certified Editor. On March 31st she sent it back to me chock full of interesting observations and suggestions, but none as radical as this: rewrite the first and last chapters and Prologue and Epilogue from a 3rd Person POV. This has a practical benefit. When a story is written in the 1st Person, Orson Scott Card notes that it sends a message to the reader that the POV character is alive at the end as they're the one telling the story. Switching to a 3rd Person narrator for the Prologue and Epilogue removes that assurance, and I play with that at the end. Furthermore, I picked my cleric character, a confidante to Clay Golem, as the one telling the story, although only I know he's the one telling what happens in the bookend chapters. A careful reader will realize that Lan Lupos is the only one who fit the bill.

The switch from 1st Person to 3rd Person does cut the chapter quite a bit, like, by half, but it's not a single page, and it's not only three pages. It's still a full chapter, and essential things happen: a century storm assails the city and our hero awakens in the 7' blue clay shell of a golem; an antagonist enters the converted barn and brings word to 'stop animating the golems;' the mage de-animates all but the last golem using a powerful implement called The Great Wand, but releases Clay Golem instead of deanimating him, and pretends Clay has awakened of his own volition for reasons he doesn't share with the interloper; the evil Archmage murders the noble mage from afar; before he dies, the noble mage throws The Great Wand to Clay with instructions to keep it from the Archmage's go-between; Clay accepts the wand and denies it to Vil. There's a lot going on, and by switching POV, the assurance that Clay will survive until the end is removed and now everything that happens takes on greater suspense and higher stakes.

I've never heard of anyone using this tactic, and when I read the rewritten Epilogue to Linda, her mouth dropped fully open for four solid seconds in complete abject shock. It was the single greatest moment of my writing life. All the work I did to change the first and last 1st Person chapter to a 3rd Person Prologue and Epilogue paid off in absolute spades.

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I guess it depends. I read Somebody Like You by Beth K. Vogt (I don't know if I spelled her last name right or not) a while back, and she put in a prologue for a scene with Sam and Steven as young boys. It didn't really relate to the story, but it gave a general picture of how close the boys were until their parents split up.

Personally, she didn't really need to put it in there, but she already did.

Then there's a prologue that was in the second edition in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It was just a long, long, terribly loooooong stretch of information about how Hawthorne got the inspiration for the book and why he wrote it and blah blah blah...I couldn't even read the book for how boring it was in its entirety. Honestly, the person who threw in that and some definitions on about every page for uncommon words and phrases just wasted a lot of time. At least to me it seemed like it.

 

But, again, it depends on the writer. If it's short and sweet and can carry a general idea that needs to be incorporated into the story, then sure. If not, don't even think about it. Sometimes you can just make it your first chapter to get the reader interested in the book.

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Yeah, prologues can be very tricky (to write or read). In my opinion, they are only necessary if an incident (or incidents) that happened prior to the main portion of the story is a "behind-the-scenes" catalyst for things--explaining certain points which are only hinted at later. Also, if there is a large difference in time period, a prologue may be needed. So long as it bares relevance to the book, it is good.

 

I will confess, I often skip prologues myself. But I have actually read some. Not long ago, I just finished reading The Circle Series by Ted Dekker (AWESOME STORY!). The prologue was totally necessary because, if you are familiar with the story, it explains the origin of the virus or Raison Strain (I hope I spelled that right) and Svenson's motives. It also aptly introduces a very important supporting character by the name of Carlos.

Sometimes a book can be difficult to get into but I'm one for taking chances. When my brother started reading The Circle, the prologue was pretty tough for him. However, I urged him on by telling him it was very important.

 

It all depends on what your initial purpose for a prologue is and how well-written it is.

 

I will try to fix the prologue in my previous project after analyzing different areas of critique, which really helps me. The incidents are relevant, I just have trouble putting them in front of the audience. 

 

As writers, we continually learn.

Edited by Madyson Rylee
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