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Author Topic: Prologues
Member # 3245

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So, in my novel there is a crucial scene that occured 16 years before the actual time of the novel. I know I could weave it into the narrative, i.e. have someone tell the story to the MC, but I kind of want to SHOW the scene.
Does this HAVE to be called a prologue? Could I have chapter one be that scene, and then have chapter two start 16 years later?
The reason I am asking is because I generally don't like prologues. If they are too long, I want to skip over them. Often I do.
But, the MC is too young to remember this scene, so it can't be a flashback.
Any suggestions?

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Member # 5562

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I would imagine that a prologue would be the most obvious and perhaps the best choice.

Other ideas that you may want to consider:

-Dreaming about it. If you subscribe to Freudian thought, everything has an impact on us and dreams are just a reflection of what has happened to us.

-Is it possible the scene could've been caught on film? Maybe it was written down in a document? There are a variety of ways for the main character to relive past moments.

This is just a couple of ideas I had. I have no idea what kind of a story you are writing so its possible neither of these suggestions would work. It always pays off to think outside the box. Even if just creating a prologue is the best way to handle this element, at least you thought of something that can be used later.

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Member # 6563

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If your story needs a prologue, than write a prologue.

Just remember your hook will be in your prologue, and as long as your hook works does, it really matter that it's in a prologue?

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Grant John
Member # 5993

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I think that if it is a prolouge have a prolouge, there are certain things I will accept of a prolouge that I won't accept of a first chapter, namely characters who are either never or rarely in the rest of the book, plus absence of the MC. If you present it as a first chapter, then 16 laters the characters you hooked me with are gone, or are only background I might stop reading.

In a prolouge I would expect it,


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Member # 3079

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Yes, this sounds like the sort of story event that should be set off in a prologue. But, please -- don't write the whole prologue in italics. It's a prologue. That's enough to get the idea across.
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Member # 2109

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If you can weave the info in, then I suggest doing so rather than presenting a prologue. Prologues by their very nature tend to be passive and thereby less likely to hook. If you REALLY think the prologue is essential, then perhaps you are starting the story in the wrong place?
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Member # 4831

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This subject again?

From previous threads about prologues, it would seem a dangerous tactic. A lot of people skip it, and a lot of people here have said they generally don't like them. Like Mike said, if you can weave it into the story, do that. If not, then try to make the scene as strong and active as possible, and call it chapter one. You can alway utilize the flashback, as long as you do it right.

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Member # 1818

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In this case, the only difference between making it a prologue and making it the first chapter is the fact that one says "chapter one" at the top of the first page and one says "prologue." Either way, the content doesn't change, right? So who cares? Just right the story, call that first chapter whichever you feel most comfortable with, and let your publisher (which you will, of course, have) decide whether your choice of which word to put at the top of the page was the right choice. I can't imagine it would be a deal-breaker for a publisher either way if he or she is interested in buying your story.
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Member # 6457

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I was thinking along the lines of SchamMan89 because I was thinking about how information is passed down. Not traditional oral storytelling either. SchamMan89 mentioned documents, which triggered Celia Rees's "Witch Child" in my mind. Set in C16, where journaling was done, Rees handled the transition by having her MC (a witch) journal entry secretly stitched into a quilt that was handed down (It's been a few years since I read it, so I may have some selective memory thing going on). But, the point is, there must be many ways to handle that time span. Time transitions are a weak point for me, which is probably why I remember Ree's method. Mind you, "The Time Traveler's Wife" dealt with time well ... I digress ... or maybe not — it did switch about a lot; and information, or moreso lack of, was important (afterall, the READER IS KING here ... will have to re-read).

I'm not a big fan of prologues personally. They are often information dumps. That's just me (Chaucer would disagree <grins> ). I don't want a mention of what happens in a scene near the end of the book because, well, it ruins the surprise for me when I get there; that yuck sense of deja-vu. (Sometimes a prologue entices me to read further ... contradition I know ... if it is the hook (and it isn't in the main body of the story anyway ... in which case, IMHO, it should be) then go for it if it feels right for you). Most prologues aren't necessary; I do read them, but in hindsight realise I could skip them (Damn Chaucer! but he didn't have C21 readership!).

Just my tuppence worth (BTW 2p doesn't go a long way, but it went a long way when my fingers were rainbow coloured from sherbert (sp?) a few decades ago!)

All the best Wrenbird.

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Member # 3619

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I have a prologue, but I call it "chapter 1" and that works wonderfully.
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Member # 3261

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You can call it Chapter 1. You could also call it Chapter 0. There are a few published novels now with Chapter 0. Many people would rather read/see a Chapter 1 and then a time jump than a prologue.

Also prologues by thier nature need to be short. The shorter the better. It sounds like yours needs to be more chapter lenght. Make it one.

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Pyre Dynasty
Member # 1947

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Would it really be better to call it "chapter one" if it's one page (or probably less) and the rest of the chapters are normal sized? I ask this because my prologue is such.
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