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Slyest Fox
02-07-2010, 11:58 AM
Lately I'm hearing all this stuff about agents hating/not reading prologues, which I find surprising and disconcerting. Here's my situation:

I have a prologue but it is, for all intents and purposes, just the first chapter. It's the same length of a chapter, it's the same writing style as the first chapter. And it doesn't take place in the distant past or deal with characters/story who aren't in the rest of the novel or anything like that.

The only reason I make it a prologue is because the POV character there is not the POV character anywhere else (It's third person limited, so it's not like I'm switching from one first person account to another). There's no getting around this, as the story hinges on the main character of the rest of the story not being present for the events of the prologue and a major part of the story will seem shitty and random if the prologue is not included.

Judging by all this bad blood in regards to prologues, am I better off just calling my prologue Chapter 1 regardless of the main character shift? I mean, the main character of the prologue is still a main character for the rest of the story, she's just not the main character.

kaitie
02-07-2010, 03:57 PM
I read a great post on prologues the other day here (http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2010/02/why-prologues-often-dont-work.html).

The main problem is that most people do prologues wrong. In your case, considering the POV switch, I personally would do it as a prologue. The main idea is that your prologue has to be a good prologue there for a reason, not just as a lazy author technique. It probably isn't, so you're probably okay. If you want, you can always post it in SYW and see what people think.

flyingtart
02-07-2010, 04:14 PM
Here's another post (http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2009/03/prologues.html) by Nathan Bransford on this topic.

I don't mind prologues, personally. For me the best kind take a dramatic moment out of the backstory and use it to draw the reader in. Info dumps should be avoided at all costs.

cate townsend
02-07-2010, 08:35 PM
The fact that you mention that the prologue is as long as a chapter should be your clue to make it exactly that. Prologues often work best when they are short. There's a lot of debate about the issue, obviously, but it's not something you should spend a lot of time worrying over. Worry about the bigger things in your story, the overall plot and theme, character development, etc. Nobody is going to reject your book for the presence or absence of a prologue alone.

Cyia
02-07-2010, 09:06 PM
Send it to a beta without that first chapter (prologue, whatever). If the beta gets the information needed for the story from the rest of the story, then you don't need it in the first place.

thothguard51
02-07-2010, 09:21 PM
I have a prologue but it is, for all intents and purposes, just the first chapter. It's the same length of a chapter, it's the same writing style as the first chapter.

What does, "the same length of a chapter," really mean?

I have chapters of 750 words, or less. I have chapters that are 3,000 words or more. My chapters end when they end and a new one is called for at that point.

I agree with Cate, prologues are generally short. They are snippets of an event or insight to the overall story. In your case, the fact you change PoV for the rest of the story might cause confusion as a standard chapter, so prologue might be a better term, even if it is frawned on.

Ken
02-07-2010, 09:29 PM
... just trashed a foreward from my own work. Tied in with the story, some, so was prologue-ish. Seemed important and rather necessary, but when I really got to evaluating it I saw it could be eliminated.

Hard to part with it, as I'd invested a lot of time in it. But the work is better off without it and gets off to a much quicker, and better, start. So I'd suggest trying to eliminate your own prologue. And if there is any essential info in it try relocating it to the story, itself. You don't have to do this, and your prologue might be perfectly fine. But it wouldn't hurt any to see if it might be removed, particularly as you're having some doubts.

ps I eliminated my foreward thanks in part to a thread on AW some months back about them. Thnx guys :-)

Slyest Fox
02-08-2010, 12:49 AM
What does, "the same length of a chapter," really mean?

I have chapters of 750 words, or less. I have chapters that are 3,000 words or more. My chapters end when they end and a new one is called for at that point.
Ah, well, most of my chapters are all around the same length. The prologue is almost 3000 words. Most of my chapters are between 4000 and 7000 words. Obviously they vary, but the story has fairly long chapters, so if the prologue was the only thing around 750 words, then it would probably be jarring.

My point is basically that everything about the prologue feels like a chapter except that rather than my main character being the central character, someone else is. What happens is part of the main story, informs the main plot, etc. etc. The different main character is the only thing that makes it at all different from the general style and rhythm of the story. It was originally written as Chapter 1 but then I became concerned people would be confused when Chapters 2-20 were not told from the perspective of the same girl.

So is the stigma against prologues amongst agents so great that it's a mistake for me to call it that? Like I've heard of agents who will immediately reject if they see a prologue or who will just refuse to read a prologue. And it's not like they know that what I'm calling a prologue is fairly unlike what other writers seem to.

I guess maybe I just do it on a case by case basis? Like Kristen Nelson, who seems anti-prologue, maybe if I sent it to her I make it Chapter 1? I just don't want the first word of my story "Prologue" to work against me before I even have a chance to make my case.

willietheshakes
02-08-2010, 12:54 AM
Ah, well, most of my chapters are all around the same length. The prologue is almost 3000 words. Most of my chapters are between 4000 and 7000 words. Obviously they vary, but the story has fairly long chapters, so if the prologue was the only thing around 750 words, then it would probably be jarring.

My point is basically that everything about the prologue feels like a chapter except that rather than my main character being the central character, someone else is.

Just so I'm clear -- "50% of" is the new "same"?

ETA -- Damn I hate it when people edit while I'm replying.

blacbird
02-08-2010, 02:52 AM
I have a prologue but it is, for all intents and purposes, just the first chapter.

Then you should probably just call in Chapter One.

caw

Undercover
10-06-2015, 03:15 PM
I know this thread is really old, but I have a question about prologues. I have one for my newest novel I'm querying and it is definitely not working. Should I omit it when I query and just give them the first chapter only? Should I mention I have a prologue available?

mayqueen
10-06-2015, 03:46 PM
Maybe trying sending pages from chapter one and include the prologue only with fulls?

Aggy B.
10-06-2015, 04:10 PM
I know this thread is really old, but I have a question about prologues. I have one for my newest novel I'm querying and it is definitely not working. Should I omit it when I query and just give them the first chapter only? Should I mention I have a prologue available?

I queried a novel that had a prologue. My rule was that if I could send 10 pages (which was the entire prologue plus about 3 1/2 pages out of chapter 1), I would send the prologue. If I could only send five pages, I started sending just the first five out of chapter 1. Then I would send the prologue if I got a partial or full request.

That worked out pretty well. (The big issue with my MS was the prologue featured the MC as a child, which made it look like the novel was going to be a YA book.) I've seen it recommended that you only include prologues if you are sending in multiple chapters or more because it can be confusing. (My prologue didn't show up in the synopsis, although it was clear in the later parts of the book that it was referencing a key sequence of events that colored every part of the MC's life.)

Best of luck.

Undercover
10-06-2015, 04:23 PM
Good idea May. And thank you Aggy, I'll remember that when I go over the submission guidelines.

I think I'm going to test it without the prologue and only give it to them if they're requesting the full.

Thanks again.

Undercover
10-08-2015, 01:51 AM
Well I omitted the prologue in the query and I'm getting much better responses. For anyone that has a prologue, definitely omit it when querying. For the request I got, I'm going to put (optional) underneath the prologue label. I'm tempted to just leave it out completely. I haven't responded yet, I'm still on the fence about having it be in there.

shadowwalker
10-08-2015, 07:27 PM
Then why in hell are you calling it a prologue? Make it Chapter One, and proceed.

caw

Because a prologue is not Chapter One? If one can do that, they haven't written a proper prologue - and agents/publishers/readers aren't dumb.

ETA: Just saw the original where it was stated it was essentially the first chapter. So yes, agree with you - but will leave my original post because that's true, too. :)

noveler7
10-16-2015, 12:15 AM
For the request I got, I'm going to put (optional) underneath the prologue label. I'm tempted to just leave it out completely. I haven't responded yet, I'm still on the fence about having it be in there.

I'd say leave it out. If they liked it fine without the prologue, then I'd say you've got something there.

Of course, if they have problems with the plot later, you can always suggest including it and hear what they think.