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Thread: Prologue

  1. #1
    Noob Writers United Eddyz Aquila's Avatar
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    Prologue

    I was wondering how often do the readers read the prologue when they pick up the book. When reading a book that has a prologue, I always read it because I know it's there for a purpose, but I know that some people don't. They just skip and go to the first page.

    When writing novels, I always include a prologue, because I choose topics which must have background ideas that will affect the main theme of the novel.

    Any thoughts on this issue?

  2. #2
    Stalking Jennifer Aniston! Delhomeboy's Avatar
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    I always read prologues, and I've never seen a problem with them, but there are a lot of people here who loathe them, and I don't doubt you're gonna see that side if this thing goes anywhere. Which is fine, but I've never seen the big deal.

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  3. #3
    Let's see what's on special today.. Bufty's Avatar
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    There's many other threads on this topic - the link below is one.

    http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/...d.php?t=152357
    Last edited by Bufty; 10-29-2009 at 04:38 AM.
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  4. #4
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    I always read the prologue. I figure it's there for a reason. I had no idea that some people don't read them until I started reading this forum.

  5. #5
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    I'm 50-50 about prologues. I read them, and they often add suspense while waiting for whatever was alluded to to actually happen, but then I have to think, "Wouldn't I enjoy the surprise more than the suspense?"

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  6. #6
    Geekzilla BigWords's Avatar
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    There are two main types of prologues. The back-story prologue takes great care in setting up the world and explaining things which will become apparent when the rest of the book is read anyway. I can't stand the wordiness and intrusion of these types of openings, and that is maybe the overwhelming response most people will give. The second type of prologue is the 'teaser' which acts (like the pre opening credits of a television show) to grab your attention with something that is not necessarily needed, but adds a bit of excitement early on.
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  7. #7
    Bartender, gimme a Linux Mint Matera the Mad's Avatar
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    If I encountered a novel that had a prologue for the purpose of explaining a lot of background, I probably wouldn't read any of it. The writers I love don't need prologues, they pull me straight into their worlds.
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    Personally I think a prologue is a great way to establish the theme of your novel. Now that you know prologues won't always be read it doesn't mean you have to stop writing them, just that you need to avoid putting critical information in it. Prologues tend to be written from the perspective of a different character to that of chapter 1. Some people find a POV change that early on to be jarring

  9. #9
    I IS PRANCING Pepper's Avatar
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    I always read prologues- I feel they're part of the story. That being said, I've never read a prologue that was in place to give background info. Ever. I don't think I'd want to, either. The prologues I've read have always been very much a part of the story. In fact, I sometimes wonder why they don't just label them 'Chapter One'. The only reason I can see that these authors have written their opening chapter as a prologue is that they wanted to tell the chapter from the POV of someone other than the main character. Wow, there's a nice run-on sentence.
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    Natural born... zpeteman's Avatar
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    I love prologues and marvel that some folks skip them. I tried to get around that in my own novel by calling it something other than a prologue. I just call it "The Beginning" in hopes that folks won't realize they've read a prologue until they turn the next page and it says, "Chapter I".

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    Last edited by zpeteman; 10-29-2009 at 08:47 AM.

  11. #11
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin qfori's Avatar
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    Yeah, I always read everything before the actual story. The interviews, the introductions, the 'thank you's, and especially the prologue. I just find them all to be enjoyable I guess. Whatever extra stuff I can get, I'll take.

  12. #12
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eddyz Aquila View Post
    I was wondering how often do the readers read the prologue when they pick up the book.
    Most times, they don't.

    If there's something in the prologue that the readers are going to need later on, you're going to have to repeat it in chapter one.

    If you have a main character in the prologue that's different from the main character of your book, you're going to have to reestablish your actual main character in chapter one, because the people who did read the prologue are going to be looking for more about the person they just read about.

    Having said all that, yes, I've committed prologue.

  13. #13
    Friendly Neighborhood Mustelidae The Otter's Avatar
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    I have a prologue in my latest novel. I'm wondering if I should just relabel it as chapter one. I made it a prologue is because it's in a different POV than the rest of the novel, but I've encountered a lot of people who just hate prologues with a passion. I don't really understand it. Maybe the prologue has been abused for info-dump purposes in the past, but most of the ones I've read are not like that.

  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW kangolNcurlz's Avatar
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    I always read prologues, but I have to admit that I hate them; I prefer to jump right into the story at chapter one. But, I do read them because they end up explaining why something is happening later in the book, which I wouldn't understand unless I read the prologue. So, I've learned to read them.
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  15. #15
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    I might be wrong here, but is what's considered a prologue in conventional terms (a body of text separate and distinct from the main story but containing information pertinent to it) something that's only really prevalent in Sci-Fi and fantasy?

    I ask, because in all honesty I hardly ever encounter them, and certainly not the infamous 'info dump' prologues that people discuss.

    That being said, on the rare occasions I do encounter them, I'd read them as a matter of course. Don't know why you wouldn't.

  16. #16
    I'm not a fan. Most of the time a prologue is just setup, trying to establish a time or place or mood or culture by telling instead of showing. When I crack open a book, I want the story to start.

  17. #17
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin VileZero's Avatar
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    Skipping a prologue, to me, is like skipping any chapter in a book. If you're going to read the book, why not just commit yourself and read the damn thing?

  18. #18
    Travelling around the sun cbenoi1's Avatar
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    I don't distinguish the prologue from any other chapter when I read. I read the whole story as it was meant to be read. But I give myself the right to skip boring parts, no matter if it's at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end. It doesn't happen often, though.

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  19. #19
    Worst song played on ugliest guitar Libbie's Avatar
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    I read prologues when I must, but I try my damndest to avoid books with them. I only trust a few authors now with prologues. And really, their prologues are called prologues, but they're just first chapters. They start with stuff that's actually important and relevant to the immediate story, rather than a big info-dump of history or world-building.

    It's my opinion, based on many a year of reading (especially in fantasy), that most prologues don't really need to be there. The author may think they need to impart all this information to make their story understandable, but usually they do not. Not if they're clever with their writing. Or maybe the information really is crucial to the story, but it can be given to the reader throughout the narrative instead of in one big, fat, usually boring as hell infodump.

    To put this into perspective, I write historical fiction, and certainly understanding some of the history on which my fiction is based will make the reader's enjoyment of my fiction a lot easier. But as a reader, I wouldn't want to read a thinly-fictionalized history lesson before I got into a STORY -- which is, after all, what I paid for -- especially when a good writer can start with the STORY and give me the needed HISTORY unobtrusively and excitingly, as I read.

  20. #20
    Back from the dead lucidzfl's Avatar
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    I will ONLY read a prologue if it is by a very established author because I assume they know what they are doing and must have put it in there for a very very explicit reason.

    If its a new author, or someone who isn't very prolific I'll either skip it or just put the damn thing back on the shelf.
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  21. #21
    Fear the Death Ray maestrowork's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VileZero View Post
    Skipping a prologue, to me, is like skipping any chapter in a book. If you're going to read the book, why not just commit yourself and read the damn thing?
    Because it's called "prologue" which practically means "before story." Many people consider it either a) background stuff they can read later, or b) something that is not part of the main story. They want to get right to the main story.

    If you want it to be a chapter of your book, why not make it Chapter 1?

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  22. #22
    Fear the Death Ray maestrowork's Avatar
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    Look at it this way: we all know how important the first chapter is. There has to be intrigue, conflicts, etc. etc. to hook the readers.

    So why are prologues not treated the same way? I've read prologues that are nothing but literary throat-clearing or info dumps of tons and tons of background stories so I can "understand that world." ZZZZZZZ Imagine that as the first chapter and you'd wonder why those books got published. (Worse, the prologue may be about some characters that never show up again in the main story -- why did I read that? It's like I have to start the book all over again with chapter 1 -- getting to know a whole new set of characters.)

    I have, of course, read prologues that were short, to the point, and great to establish what I was about to experience. I like those prologues... like someone said, it's like a teaser to get you in the mood. Then again, those prologues could be skipped without affecting the main story, but they are a nice way to start the book nonetheless.

    The common problems with new writers, as I see it, who write prologues are the following:

    - they start the book too early. So instead of making it a "bad" first chapter, they push all the back stories into a prologue so they can have a "good" chapter one, and they hope the readers won't notice

    - they feel the need to explain everything upfront because otherwise the readers "would not know what is going on."

    - the prologue contains pertinent information not repeated in the main story. They should have made it Chapter 1 instead; now the readers who do skip prologues are confused

    - the prologue contains everything that will be repeated in the main story. It's redundant.

    - the prologue's written in a different voice and style as the main story. It feels like a whole different book.
    Last edited by maestrowork; 10-29-2009 at 07:24 PM.

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  23. #23
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin VileZero's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maestrowork View Post
    Because it's called "prologue" which practically means "before story." Many people consider it either a) background stuff they can read later, or b) something that is not part of the main story. They want to get right to the main story.

    If you want it to be a chapter of your book, why not make it Chapter 1?
    If it's in the book, it's part of the story. If the reader is going to not read my book because I dared challenge them to read a prologue, then that's an audience I don't care to have.

    For me, a prologue is an appetizer. The book is the main course. The epilogue is the dessert. To each his/her own, but that's how I approach it.

  24. #24
    Back from the dead lucidzfl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VileZero View Post
    If it's in the book, it's part of the story. If the reader is going to not read my book because I dared challenge them to read a prologue, then that's an audience I don't care to have.

    For me, a prologue is an appetizer. The book is the main course. The epilogue is the dessert. To each his/her own, but that's how I approach it.
    lol. Prologues are 9 times out of 10, tools of a lazy writer who falls under 1 of 2 categories.

    1. Wants the information in the book, but doesn't know how to properly fit the information in with a retarded ass info dump.

    2. Doesn't realize that said information is completely pointless and that it doesn't affect the novel.


    Just because some published authors can get away with having a prologue doesn't mean ALL authors can.

    Edit:
    I find epilogues to be just as much of a blunt, clumsy tool as prologues.

    Edit again: (I just keep finding things wrong with your post lol)
    Saying "its in the book, its a part of the story" doesn't make any sense. If that were the case, no one would need to edit. There are all sorts of things that are in books that may never make it to the final draft. The reason for that is that those parts are either redundant, boring or do not advance the plot. Some people don't realize that prologues and epilogues simply have no purpose into the story. I also have NEVER seen so many people cling to something so pointless as the concept of the prologue. Like its their little baby, and these nuggets of information are just so precious that they absolutely HAVE to be included, even though they have no LOGICAL place in the damn novel. (Else, they would be IN the damn novel) Its borderline golden word syndrome..
    Last edited by lucidzfl; 10-29-2009 at 08:32 PM.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by maestrowork View Post
    - the prologue's written in a different voice and style as the main story. It feels like a whole different book.
    That one isn't necessarily bad. Prologues can be written in a different tense or POV than the rest of the novel, even that of a character who isn't introduced until later in the story. It takes skill to pull it off, that's true.

    The same holds true for epilogues. A well-written one can bring completeness to a story, even without being part of it.
    Last edited by motormind; 10-29-2009 at 08:38 PM.

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