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Old 03-02-2012, 12:01 PM   #26
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Honestly, it's probably because *most* prologues they've encountered are bad. I think there is something about prologues that attracts aspiring writers like moths to flames--they've read a bunch of books with prologues, and so they put one in their own--but almost every single aspiring novel I've read that opened with a prologue could have been immediately improved simply by cutting it.

That doesn't mean you can't write a great prologue. It just means that it may take more skill than people necessarily realize--and it's entirely possible that the books in the store didn't have prologues when they first came across the editor's desk.
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Old 03-02-2012, 12:17 PM   #27
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Honestly, it's probably because *most* prologues they've encountered are bad. I think there is something about prologues that attracts aspiring writers like moths to flames--they've read a bunch of books with prologues, and so they put one in their own--but almost every single aspiring novel I've read that opened with a prologue could have been immediately improved simply by cutting it.

That doesn't mean you can't write a great prologue. It just means that it may take more skill than people necessarily realize--and it's entirely possible that the books in the store didn't have prologues when they first came across the editor's desk.
This. Gillian Mear's most recent book has a brilliant prologue. Only it's called a preamble.

ETA: The rest of the book is brilliant, too...
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Old 03-02-2012, 12:52 PM   #28
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I've never been a fan of the prologue and I tend not to read them. I generally skip forewords, afterwords, acknowledgements and author's notes as well. I made a promise to myself that if I ever started a story with a prologue I would bin the lot of it and start something else. I shouldn't have to tell you a story to set up my story. Everything outside of the first and last chapter is superfluous.
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Old 03-02-2012, 12:55 PM   #29
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For aspiring writers, especially aspiring Fantasy writers, who are congenitally predisposed to crave prologues:

The prologue should be the last thing you write, produced only after your narrative is finished, and you find an actual viable reader-friendly need for one. Starting your writing process with a prologue is a recipe for info-dump, pure and simple.

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Old 03-02-2012, 01:00 PM   #30
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I've never been a fan of the prologue and I tend not to read them. I generally skip forewords, afterwords, acknowledgements and author's notes as well. I made a promise to myself that if I ever started a story with a prologue I would bin the lot of it and start something else. I shouldn't have to tell you a story to set up my story. Everything outside of the first and last chapter is superfluous.
I don't get this at all. Why wouldn't you read them? It's like a little insight into the creation of the book...

As for not reading the prologue - the writer wrote it. I'll read it.
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Old 03-02-2012, 01:08 PM   #31
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I can appreciate the purpose they serve, but to be completely honest, it doesn't interest me and takes away from the feeling of urgency that I get when I pick up a book for the first time. I don't want to read about the author's journey in finding the voice of the protagonist or how his/her spouse was supportive and encouraging or how the character of Paul reflects your inner child. I'm just not that interested. I want the story and I'm not inclined to wait while you talk about it. I'm not against them. I just don't read them.
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Old 03-02-2012, 01:22 PM   #32
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I don't get this at all. Why wouldn't you read them? It's like a little insight into the creation of the book...

As for not reading the prologue - the writer wrote it. I'll read it.
I see most acknowledgments as more of a conversation between the author and a few people to whom they're grateful, rather than intended for me (or the rest of the audience).

I tend to read them anyway, but then, I tend to read the indexes, too.

But I've only read one acknowledgment so far that I actually enjoyed.
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Old 03-02-2012, 01:28 PM   #33
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I don't get this at all. Why wouldn't you read them?
I always do, and always with a shudder, and usually it's an appropriate response. Too damn many times it's made me not want to read further.

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It's like a little insight into the creation of the book...
I only want "a little insight into the creation of the book" after I've read the book and really enjoyed the experience.

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Old 03-02-2012, 01:47 PM   #34
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I see most acknowledgments as more of a conversation between the author and a few people to whom they're grateful, rather than intended for me (or the rest of the audience). .
Well, so do I. But I'm nosey like that, and hey, if they leave it lying around...


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I tend to read them anyway, but then, I tend to read the indexes, too. .
Exactly.

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But I've only read one acknowledgment so far that I actually enjoyed .
I've read so many that I've enjoyed... 'Swhy I keep reading them, I guess.

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I only want "a little insight into the creation of the book" after I've read the book and really enjoyed the experience.
I guess I always start out expecting I'll like it. So sue me
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Old 03-02-2012, 01:58 PM   #35
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I don't want to read about the author's journey in finding the voice of the protagonist or how his/her spouse was supportive and encouraging or how the character of Paul reflects your inner child. I'm just not that interested. I want the story and I'm not inclined to wait while you talk about it. I'm not against them. I just don't read them.
I don't mean that kind of acknowledgement. The ones I like (and remember) tend to say things like "To Jon and the spirit of little Joss, who was born there". That adds quite a lot for me - at the very least, if I don't know the author yet, it makes me want to learn more about them and about why they wrote this book for Jon and the spirit of little Joss and what it means to say "he was born there" - the book in question being my grandmother's first edition of Rumer Godden's Rungli Rungliot: first "grownup" book I ever read.

And perhaps that's part of it for me - that sense that the writer was treating the reader (little eight-year-old I) to a grown-up conversation - back in the days when grown-ups and children didn't talk all that much as equals...?

Maybe that's it.

Anyway, I'm grateful.
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Old 03-02-2012, 04:37 PM   #36
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The prologue should be the last thing you write, produced only after your narrative is finished, and you find an actual viable reader-friendly need for one. Starting your writing process with a prologue is a recipe for info-dump, pure and simple.
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Old 03-02-2012, 04:58 PM   #37
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I don't get this at all. Why wouldn't you read them? It's like a little insight into the creation of the book...

As for not reading the prologue - the writer wrote it. I'll read it.
I know how you feel, m. I read a book cover-to-cover.
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Old 03-02-2012, 05:15 PM   #38
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Lol, I'm more often to be found paging through the book looking for the place where the story starts.
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Old 03-02-2012, 06:51 PM   #39
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For aspiring writers, especially aspiring Fantasy writers, who are congenitally predisposed to crave prologues:

The prologue should be the last thing you write, produced only after your narrative is finished, and you find an actual viable reader-friendly need for one. Starting your writing process with a prologue is a recipe for info-dump, pure and simple.

caw
It's taken, I believe, thousands of threads about prologues for someone to write an explanation this clear and simple, but this. A million times this.
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Old 03-02-2012, 07:31 PM   #40
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It's taken, I believe, thousands of threads about prologues for someone to write an explanation this clear and simple, but this. A million times this.
From John Steinbeck, in 1952:

As you know, a prologue is written last but placed first to explain the book's shortcomings and to ask the reader to be kind. But a prologue is also a note of farewell from the writer to his book. For years the writer and his book have been together—friends or bitter enemies but very close as only love and fighting can accomplish.

Then suddenly the book is done. It is a kind of death. This is the requiem.


(from his letter to his editor, at Letters of Note.)
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Old 03-02-2012, 08:10 PM   #41
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I love prologues. I even have a cutesie little pettie pet pet name for them: Chapter One.
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Old 03-02-2012, 09:21 PM   #42
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in almost every agent's blog I read, prologues are slammed
Who cares? If you feel you story needs a prologue, write one. Just don't make it boring.
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Old 03-04-2012, 06:56 AM   #43
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Newbie talking here

I had a friend reading my first lines and she quit before she met the main character.

The way I saw it:

"Hey, I finished my book. Here, have a look. Don't mind me," I just stared back at her. She read about the terrifying assault of vicious creatures to a helpless lovely woman living in a tree house. The lovely character is scared for her son. He is not in the house, but she finds out she is not alone when evil comes inside.... Muahahaha. Now she can never let it go....I keep staring at her, thinking I have achieved glory.

The way she saw it:

"What? Is this boy ( mentioned and absent from his room) the main character and he isn’t even here for the action?”
“Well, he will get there next, you'll see…”
There is nothing to see… she left.


Now I write in another language.



Write the prologue, rename it, and if it isn’t good erase it. Just don’t quit.


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Old 03-04-2012, 07:10 AM   #44
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The number of unpublished novels that have prologues that don't work and are totally unnecessary is high. By the time novels get to the publication stage, the unnecessary prologues have generally been jettisoned by editors, and the prologues that remain are the ones that work.
This, a thousand times...

Well said Ice Cream girl...
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Old 03-04-2012, 07:28 AM   #45
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I don't get this at all. Why wouldn't you read them? It's like a little insight into the creation of the book...

As for not reading the prologue - the writer wrote it. I'll read it.
I read acknowledgments too. And then imagine myself writing one for when I get published
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Old 03-04-2012, 07:42 AM   #46
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Further comment on the craving for prologues:

If you find yourself, at the beginning of the novel-writing process, desperate to produce a prologue, go down to the liquor store, get a bottle of Talisker, bring it home, sip a wee dram, neat, then sit down at your computer and have Character X kill Character Y in some delightfully gruesome way. You don't need a reason. Neither does the reader. That can all be worked out later. The working-out-later part is called THE STORY.

Which is exactly why you don't need to write a prologue at the beginning, and quite possibly won't need one at all.

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Old 03-04-2012, 08:01 AM   #47
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That's fine, blacbird - you don't like prologues. No-one's going to make you write one. You don't even have to read one if you don't like. You can settle down now.
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Old 03-04-2012, 08:37 AM   #48
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If a prologue is well written and enhances the work, I think most agents (and readers) won't mind them.

Of course, you could say the same thing about anything in a novel.
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Old 03-04-2012, 08:50 AM   #49
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Originally Posted by mccardey View Post
That's fine, blacbird - you don't like prologues. No-one's going to make you write one. You don't even have to read one if you don't like. You can settle down now.
You miss my point. I don't categorically dislike prologues. I've read prologues that work, very well. But I've read far more prologues, in manuscripts, that just plain suck, for a variety of reasons. And I'm convinced they suck largely because the writers wrote them before they wrote the actual story. It shows, every damn time. The worst of them, and the most common, are pure and simple info-dumps. Which are the first symptom of a writer not trusting the readers: I just gotta explain stuff, or nobody will get it.

Which generates my primary caution: No, you don't. Readers are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay smarter than you think they are, IF you've written a damgood story.

So, go write a damgood story. Worry about the prologue after you've done that. If it's necessary, write one. If not . . . for Godsake, don't. Try not to be a pretentious imbecile. Leave that to people like me, who aspire to write "literary" fiction, and aren't good enough writers to write good genre fiction.

caw
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Old 03-04-2012, 08:56 AM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
You miss my point. I don't categorically dislike prologues. I've read prologues that work, very well. But I've read far more prologues, in manuscripts, that just plain suck, for a variety of reasons. And I'm convinced they suck largely because the writers wrote them before they wrote the actual story. It shows, every damn time. The worst of them, and the most common, are pure and simple info-dumps. Which are the first symptom of a writer not trusting the readers: I just gotta explain stuff, or nobody will get it.

Which generates my primary caution: No, you don't. Readers are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay smarter than you think they are, IF you've written a damgood story.

So, go write a damgood story. Worry about the prologue after you've done that. If it's necessary, write one. If not . . . for Godsake, don't. Try not to be a pretentious imbecile. Leave that to people like me, who aspire to write "literary" fiction, and aren't good enough writers to write good genre fiction.

caw
Thank you.
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