Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Writing the prologue of your story

Writing a prologue
I do not know how many of you have prologues in your stories, but I think whether you've wrote one before or not will still make this post relevant to you.
First off I just want to point out that you do not need a prologue.  There are plenty of authors who do not start out their story with a prologue.  However, if you chose to have a prologue in your story then it is more likely you can draw the readers in before even really beginning with the start of the story.  In other words, a prologue is a great way to get the readers interested and wanting to know how something ends or why something happened.
So with this post we're going to assume that you want to put a prologue in your story but you're just not sure where to start.  You do not know what to put in the prologue because perhaps you barely even know how you want to start the book.  My advice to you is to think over major events that are going to occur in the book for certain.  The easiest thing to do is to pick one of the events that will leave the readers wanting more, even though they probably know very little about the characters and the plot of your book.  I've read prologues where a character dies, where people are put into a dangerous situation, when people are in a massive fight (physical fight, that is), or even a dream that is so bizarre and mysterious that you hardly believe it any more than the main character.
Before you write your prologue you should consider the following:

  • What is a major turning point in the story or something that really affects several characters and/or the main character?
  • Who are key characters that should be in the prologue?
  • How much or how little detail do I want to go into right now?
  • Is the ending of the prologue exciting, mysterious, interesting, or etc?  (Does it leave the reader with some kind of feeling at the end)?
  • Will the reader be more likely to read further because of the event(s) in the prologue?
If your not sure you can answer all of those questions then I would say you certainly have a lot to think over.  Obviously if you lose your reader at the prologue that's not going to be good.
And just one last thing before I end this post, prologues should be brief and stay to the point.  I can't think of any books I've read where the prologue was longer than one of the chapters, and in my opinion it should be because it's just supposed to be something that happens quickly, leaving the readers with interest and questions.
When you leave your readers with mysteries hidden they will want to solve them.

For now that's all.  Hopefully that helped any of you who are writing prologues or helped those of you like me who are already have.  I'll try to come up with another writing post for a later time.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. My prologue has information the reader needs going into the story, if it weren't for that, I wouldn't even have the prologue.
I just read a book where the prologue was a paragraph. What's the point of that?

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