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02 April 2011 @ 08:00 pm
To prologue, or not to prologue...  
How do you feel about prologues? Do you find them useful to engage readers right off the get-go? Or, do you find that they sometimes give away too much information, and you inevitably figure out what twist happens before you really should?

Ultimately, what you do feel is the goal of a prologue? And do you find they are used predominently in a particular genre?

The reason I ask is, I feel as though the novel I've been writing on and off for the past few years has started with one, but I'm not sure if I've utilized it to its full potential, or I'm just using it as a piss-poor chapter holder?

Secondly, if one prologues - is one obligated to epilogue too?

I'd love to hear your thoughts! ♥
 
 
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Laura: » i burned every bridge i ever builtthemongers on April 3rd, 2011 01:17 am (UTC)
I guess whenever I read a prologue, I expect to extract some sort of background information about what I'm about to read. Or, maybe the prologue could serve as a catalyst for the story? I think if it gives away important information that you would otherwise learn in the body of the story, then it's telling me too much.

I don't think one's obligated to an epilogue if they do a prologue though, and vice versa :) I've never held that expectation after reading a prologue, anyways.
PaintedTeacherLadydivinitus on April 3rd, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC)
Good point about giving away important information that could be found in the body of the work... I'll keep that in mind. :)

I don't feel as strongly for epilogues - I guess I feel that if the story is told correctly, there reallly isn't need for an epilogue.
Dyael_heiman on April 3rd, 2011 02:58 am (UTC)
I don't usually care for prologues, but every novel is different.

What is it about your prologue that makes it different from the rest of the chapters? Is it told from a different point of view, or is it set it the past/future?

I'd say it's okay if it helps build tension or leaves behind a lot of unanswered questions. Just make sure to ask yourself, "Would it be better to integrate this information into the narrative, or do I want to keep the prologue?"
PaintedTeacherLadydivinitus on April 3rd, 2011 06:52 pm (UTC)
"What is it about your prologue that makes it different from the rest of the chapters? Is it told from a different point of view, or is it set it the past/future?"

Excellent question - and I think that is what I need to ask myself! Honestly, it is told from the protagonist at a different time in her life.

This has given me something to think of, and goes with what others are stating - prologues are good, so long as the content isn't something that can be easily put into the body of work.
cloned_fiction: mal + jayne celebrationcloned_fiction on April 3rd, 2011 11:50 am (UTC)
To me a prologue is written in a place/time/pov you'd find it hard to put into the story. In a murder mystery it might be from the pov of the victim or the murderer for example. Or it could be character development. A look at your protagonist's daily routines if you want to immediately highlight how those routines change with a starting catalyst. It could be a look at the history of a place or culture in a fantasy or sci-fi to give the readers some context, your characters childhood if it's relevant, or the long past beginning of a series of events which started your plot.

I've been guilty to skip a prologue or two, the kind at the start of a classic that attempts to explain context of the book and the history of the author or stuff like that. Epilogue and prologue don't necessarily go together, no need to worry about that. I don't think prologues are a bad element of a book or story any more than any other part. Just depends on if they're necessary and done well.
PaintedTeacherLadydivinitus on April 3rd, 2011 06:55 pm (UTC)
Ah, it's good to know that some people do skip the prologues! I'm crazy compulsive and always read - but it is important to know what others do, and why!

Knowing this, I guess I then have to ask myself - is the content I have in the prologue vital to the understanding of the story? Would the story work without it? Would the reader fully understand what they are reading?

"Just depends on if they're necessary and well done?" - :) That was my thought.
cloned_fiction: topless jaynecloned_fiction on April 4th, 2011 01:59 am (UTC)
I've never skipped a prologue that was part of the narrative though, to me they're just chapter 0 instead of chapter 1. I skip the explainy non-narrative kinds which are either an essay on the original author in a re-printed classic or a story from the author on why they wrote the book, or stuff like that which seems unnecessary to the story. Or maybe I'm thinking of forewords... I can't off the top of my head think of any books I've read with prologues, but in television the equivalent would be the teaser bit at the beginning of each episode before the opening credits.
miritsu: Takarazuka Romeo and Julietmiritsu on April 3rd, 2011 01:16 pm (UTC)
I think of a prologue like a really long back cover blurb; it gives us information, sets up the main conflict of the story, shows us what's really going on, while Chapter One is about introducing our main character/the world the novel takes place in.

I don't think they're a bad idea at all; you can set up your world/conflict, then your main character, in a short space.
PaintedTeacherLadydivinitus on April 3rd, 2011 06:57 pm (UTC)
"... you can set up your world/conflict, then your main character, in a short space." - This is what I think I did, and I wasn't sure about it. My prologue is longer than I would like it, but perhaps as I mentioned in reply to others, I might work some of the content into the actual body of the story instead of just the prologue.

I've ready a few stories where the prologue is merely a favourite quotation or something that doesn't give much to the book, unless you are analysis the crap out of it. This was where I was getting confused about the prologues purpose.

Thanks for the reply!