Friday, April 2, 2010

The Prologue: Let the arguments begin!

Before I start, Weronika Janczuk posted my query on her blog "Queries that Worked." Thanks Weronika! Okay, on to today's topic.



Sitting comfortably in my chamber of torture (that is, Revision Hell. And I'm in the fourth circle where I'm revising my revisions. Again.) I recently thought long and hard about using a prologue.

It would save me a lot of trouble, putting valuable backstory in. And then I read several articles about how to write one well:


Where to Begin? When, Where, and How to Write a Prologue

The Prologue — When to Use One, How to Write One

Tips for Novel Writing: Prologues

And then, I decided not to. I am going to dissect my would-be prologue and sprinkle it into my story instead. Having come close to doing a prologue, I have sympathy for those who wish to write them. I've also read some prologues that I really disliked (like an almost word-for-word excerpt from a later part of the book--see the first link above. It's a no-no, according to the author.)

So, just wondering. Love 'em or hate 'em?

17 comments:

B.E. Sanderson said...

Sorry to hear you're in revision hell. I'm trying not to step into my next round of edits yet, but I'll join you soon. ;o)

For me, I guess prologues depend on the author and the story. The ones I can think of at the moment all seemed to work. They all gave some pre-information crucial to the story without ending up doing an info-dump. My WIP had a prologue, but like you, I went back and sprinkled the info in it throughout the story. It worked better than way.

Nisa said...

I like them. The stories I've read with prologues work well. I don't think they're a right fit for every book, but I do like them. I just picked up a Shannon Hale novel and her prologue sucked me right in!

Danyelle said...

Depends on whether they have a function or not--besides backstory infodumping. O:) I always read the prologues, and generally enjoy them. :D

Kirsten Lesko said...

Congratulations on writing a "Query that Works"! That's a really big deal - harder to do than writing a book that works, IMO.

I'm indifferent on the prologue debate. Like all writing, if it's done well, I'm in. If not, I skip it.

Sandy Shin said...

Love love love your query!

I generally dislike prologues because often, they seem gratuitous and don't add much to the story. I have, however, read ones that worked amazingly well. So it really depends. However, if you can sprinkle the information in the prologue throughout the story, I'd definitely do that instead -- it makes it easier when submit to agents.

My previous WiP had a would-be prologue that I made a part of my first chapter. Some still thought it'd work better as a prologue, so I can understand how you feel.

Good luck with revisions!

Jana Hutcheson said...

I've read some I liked and some I didn't think were really necessary. If you can get around it by sprinkling it into your story that's what I would do. Hang in there! You can do it!

lbdiamond said...

Congrats on a great query!!!

Prologues don't bother me in the slightest. It's a shame they get a bad rap.

Amparo Ortiz said...

Your query = Awesomeness.

Just thought I'd throw it out there...

Anyway, I agree with lbdiamond. Prologues usually rock my world, but I'm a bit hesitant to write them for my WIPs. I leave the prologue writing to the pros.

And yeah, sucks that they get a bad rap. Power to the prologue, people!

Jaydee Morgan said...

I'm also not bothered by prologues. If it's in the book, I'm going to read it.

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

I don't mind prologues. I'm with lbd and Amparo, prologues get a bad rap.

Lydia Kang said...

Thanks for all the comments! I guess prologues are like many things in writing.There's good, there's bad, and there's what I'm capable of writing, which seems to be somewhere in between (on a good day).

VR Barkowski said...

First off, outstanding query Lydia!

Re: prologues. I agree with Danyelle, if there's a function, prologues are fine. If the prologue is an info dump because the writer is too lazy to weave in backstory, then they're not fine.

I do not like long prologues under any circumstances. Some prologues feel like a second story and I'm distracted trying to figure out how the prologue and the primary story mesh.

SuzanneWrites said...

I'm not a big fan of prologues. I think most of the time they're not necessary. But sometimes they might work...
Oh, and thank you for the blog award! :)

beth said...

I don't mind prologues--as long as they aren't info-dumps or heavy foreshadowing vehicles. I think I got a bit burnt out from them when reading too many fantasy novels.

Amanda J. said...

Great topic. I'm on the fence with prologues, if they're done well I don't mind them.

And I gave you an award over on my blog. :)

Talli Roland said...

I'm in the 'love them' camp. I'd like to write an article called 'Prologues: What's the Problem?' I don't get what the big issue is!

Lisa and Laura said...

I'm glad you're going to sprinkle the info in. Sometimes I feel like prologues are a big old info dump. But then again, they can be done really well too! Good luck either way!

 
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