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Prologues----How and why to write one

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Lunaairis, Aug 17, 2012.

  1. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

    I have been messing with prologues for my story for some time. I wrote several, then decided to ditch all of them and call them 'a writing exercise'. When I filled in the plot holes and really decided on the plot for the novel, I decided the book didn't really need a prologue. So far, anyway. That could very well change.

    But I will explain what the use of my first prologue was (written hastily in a notebook at a cafe, if I remember rightly). My purpose was to introduce conflict clues and link bits into the story as it went. As mentioned above, Martin's prologue about winter coming is how I would generally use a prologue, and I quite like those sorts of prologues. It provides a little bit of back story (or context in which to read the rest of the book) without dumping too much, a teaser, and introduces some of the major conflict.

    That aside, I scrapped the prologue and have decided to introduce the conflict differently. But I am not for or against prologues. I think if it works for the story, then use it. If it doesn't, then don't. I have seen other prologues which introduce the MC - they are writing their life story (or dying) and then tell their story, starting from the very beginning. Intriguing. Not something I have tried, but it works in some stories quite well.

    Other prologues I have read show the 'baddies' conferring and plotting some destruction. Something so simple can be effective if the reader is left wanting more.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2012
  2. Addison

    Addison Auror

    I read somewhere, forget where, that the first chapter in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone could pass as a Prologue but instead J.K named it Chapter 1. So in a way a Prologue could be the same thing as a first chapter.

    I think prologues are used if the world your story is set in has so much background relevant to the story that it can't be explained in the story itself. Sort of like you're presenting the core and mantle of your world and the story is the crust. Another way the prologue can be used is if the story is a flashback. A good example is Psych. At the beginning of most episodes there's a flashback to when Sean is a kid, what happens in that first two minutes has some relevance in the present-time case.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2012
  3. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Auror

    And then he goes and writes two or three prologues into the way of kings ;)

    The man loves them.

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