Thursday, June 21, 2012

Prologues

Prologues contain events or an event significant to the plot, but normally don't directly involve the protagonist. 


Prologues aren't always necessary, but give the reader a better understanding of what is to come, or background on characters and events they otherwise wouldn't have knowledge about. One thing I have found annoying to read is how many people say prologues are worthless, and that they skip over them to the main story. Many writers include prologues for a reason, if they weren't necessary or didn't add to the story they wouldn't be written. With this knowledge, should we (as writers) write prologues? 

Some people hate prologues, some love them because they help them understand the story better. Below are some tips and types of prologues to help you decide whether or not you need one.

Writing a prologue isn't a reason to have a boring first chapter and vice versa. Always write the first chapter as if the knowledge presented in the prologue doesn't exist. Even if you hook people with the prologue, also make sure you hook them with the first chapter because as said above, not everyone reads the prologue. Also make sure you aren't using the prologue as an excuse to give out loads of information; it should be exciting. 

Below I've created a list of the four most used prologues.

Different POV or Character Prologues can be written before or after the events of the story, and are typically used in mystery and crime novels, where a murder takes place through the killer's eyes. This sets up the rest of the story. 

Historical Prologues typically give information on the setting of the story, and are normally used in historical or science fiction novels.

Future Prologues typically focus on something that happens after the story as a result of what happens in the story. 

Past-Protagonist Prologues normally give information on the protagonist and why he does what he does.

2 comments:

  1. Excellent article, Spencer, and some salient points (as usual). I've always been fascinated by the fact that some writers hate prologues. I say to those writers "What's the difference, exactly? If it makes you happy, call my Prologue 'Chapter One' and renumber accordingly." ;)

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  2. Exactly! I almost wrote that if you don't like prologues, you can write one and label it chapter 1. Thanks for commenting!

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