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Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Baptism by Prologue


I admit I was never a fan of Prologues in novels. They always seemed an unknown quantity and rather an annoying digression before the real story began.

The more I read, the more I realised that a good prologue is so much more.

Having just written beyond the FPP in the novel I’m writing, I realised that it was exactly what I needed for it.  So I researched it some more and considered the criteria. As I understand it then a Prologue should:

• Start with a compelling first line, from an unnamed character's viewpoint

• hook the reader in, cutting to the chase and introducing a vital story question

• sketch in some backstory quickly and economically

• convince the reader to keep turning the pages to find out the answer, without giving too much away

• never be an excerpt that is repeated later in the story


Then I had a go and ‘Hey Presto’

A grin split across my face like a cleaved melon!

It seemed just perfect!
I am so excited, I'm beside myself...

Are you averse to the idea of prologues? Do you include them in your novels?

The best article I read since on the subject was by Adrian Magson in Writing Magazine who contributed to my change of heart. It’s got some very good information about when Prologues are appropriate and what should be included in them.

5 comments:

  1. *whispers* My story has a prologue. It didn't originally, but just like you, I had that same grin on my face once it was done; it just seemed so right.

    I think prologues work best when they set up the the conflict. Short and sweet is how I like them. :)

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  2. Whispers sounds exciting. Yes I share the feeling and yes mine also stimulates the conflict.
    Madeleine x

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  3. I think a good prologue can be intriguing. Glad yours is working well for you.

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  4. Thank you for the list on how prologues should be done. I haven't written one myself, but you never know!

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  5. Hi Debs and Ellie
    I've just read another article that suggests that too many new writers use prologues and yet when they were surveyed many admitted not liking to read them themselves!

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