cmartell (jfreedan) wrote,
cmartell
jfreedan

More over-analyzing of prologues

From a forum discussion,

"I can't remember exactly, but I think Jenny Crusie might have talked about prologues in her Beginnings and Endings workshop. It was either there or her pre conference workshop. But regardless, there I was--innocent little me sipping my tea and thinking about how much I would like a scone to go with it--when she blurted out, "Never write a prologue."

(She also said never write an epilogue, too, but that's another topic)

I think I was the only writer in the room who gasped...

http://jennifershirk.blogspot.com/2009/11/prologues-bad-rap-or-ditch-worthy.html

-This seems somewhat valid. I wonder if anyone thinks that my prologue would fall into the bad or good category? close quotes
Blogs like that are the result of over-analyzing writing."


My response:

Here's the first thing she (and others) do wrong: they assume Chapter 1 is the "start" of the story.

The story actually starts where the writer starts writing; so if they wrote a prologue, that's where the story starts!

I think the biggest mistake people do is decide a prologue is bad because it creates a number of questions that are not resolved by the end of the prologue. They don't ever ask themselves, "Maybe if I read the story, the answers will come?".

An effective prologues is just a hook. Prologues do not follow the usual conventions of a chapter, which is a self-contained story with a cliffhanger tagged to the end.

Prologues can do many things, but if they don't force you to read the rest of the book to answer your questions, it's not doing its primary job.
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