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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Shhhhh......(I'm talking about prologues)

Okay, so why do prologues get such a bad rap?


There, I said it.

I have read where some people (agents, writers, editors, whathaveyou) don't like prologues and think they are....lazy writing. (GASP)

Now, I don't want to be a lazy writer. So, what happened was this......

I have a middle grade book that I finished this Fall that I am pleased with, but there was something, something that niggled in the back of my brain that didn't quite feel right. (Anyone who writes knows this've done all you can, but there is just a little something that you just wish you knew how to tango with.*) In my case, it was the beginning.

I had started with a prologue, not a strange cryptic one (although I like those quite well), but one which established why the events that were taking place were taking place. (Still with me?) But during revision, I 86ed the prologue and embedded the information within the first chapter. Brilliant, no?

Except that it just wasn't right.

And it's been niggling at the back of my brain ever since.

And then I got over myself and realized that I like a prologue when it's the right prologue. When it makes me more excited about reading the story, or it establishes a knowledge base that is necessary, or when it ups the coolness factor in a book, well, that is a good prologue.

So, I wrote a new beginning, which now includes a p-word and it has stopped niggling. So I suppose that is a good thing.

Lesson: Trust the story.


*Yeah, it's going to niggle in the back of my brain that I ended with a preposition. I'll probably come back and change it later.

If I am feeling very brave, I might post the beginning of the prologue....


Yat-Yee said...

Prologues are probably the result of lazy writing in most cases. But you're right, you have to trust your story. If it rebels against the embedding, then you got to excise all the info out and give it its own little place.

Go for it.

And if you're taking votes, I vote for posting your prologue.

Myrna Foster said...

You know I just did the same thing because I posted about it last week, and I am so much happier with the beginning of my story.

And I'd read your prologue too, if you want to post it.

Catherine Denton said...

This always puzzled me because I like prologues too.

Post it, post it!

Jackee said...

I like prologues too--good, fitting prologues at least.

I had a similar situation yesterday with an ending. The exposition is likely too long, but it felt right. I tried anyway and rewrote it three times because the rules are short endings, right? Well, eventually I went back to the old ending because that's what resonated with how I saw the story.

"Trust the story." Good advice!

Julie Dao said...

Agreed. I am an advocate of the prologue myself :) I'm not sure why they have such a bad reputation, because I never, ever mind reading a prologue. Maybe people are just wary of huge chunks of backstory, but some authors do that in the main story anyway. "Trust the story" is excellent advice. If it doesn't sound right, it probably isn't.

L. T. Host said...

I, too, am a fan of prologues. Bah on those who don't like them. Bah, I say!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I like a good prologue. If it's a good one, it's there for a reason. I don't understand why that is such a bad thing.

Emma Michaels said...

I love prologues but keep having to try not to do them. I agree with you though. My first novel didn't call for a prologue but my second needed one so I went for it. Hope it turns out okay and if not there is always the chop shop.

Renee Collins said...

You know, I've never understood the rage against prologues. I think they can be very cool.

My only qualm is when they are too long. For some reason I don't equate a prologue with a chapter, and therefore if it is starting to get as long as a chapter, I get restless. Two or three pages is perfect, IMO.

MG Higgins said...

I think my YA MUST have a prologue. It just doesn't make sense without it. So I hope that's not an indication of lazy writing. Go for it!

storyqueen said...

Thank you guys! I'm glad I'm not the only one that doesn't hate prologues

And I'll think about posting a bit soon.

Nisa said...

I like prologues too. I admit it! I always read them. I enjoy them and, sometimes, they're just fitting. I have done what you just did. My prologue is now my first chapter... I'm not sure if it will end up a prologue again. We shall see.

PS My boys LOVE Good Night, Good Knight! :D

Lisa and Laura said...

I like prologues too! In fact sometimes I wish the prologue was the entire story. Hm, maybe that's why some people don't like them?

Please, please post some of yours! I love reading your writing.

Hilary Wagner ~ Writer said...

My debut has a prologue. Granted, it's only a one page prologue, but a prologue all the same. It needed to be done for this particular story. I don't have one for any of my others.

I love a short prologue that zings you in the beginning of a novel, which is why I love it in my book. I like to be zinged! Ha, ha!

Great post!

xoxo -- Hilary

Amy Tate said...

Amen! I do too. Who made up that rule, anyway?

Natalie said...

Good for you! Writing rules are dumb, you've got to do what's best for you.