Monday, September 21

In the beginning...

by Liz Flaherty

This doesn't go with the blog--I just love it. Have you ordered it yet?
Hey, we're home! It was such a grand time. But I am always glad to be home. I'm pretty sure Nan is, too, and the Boys are glad to see us. It's all good. Thank you all for traveling with us last week.

So, what shall we talk about?

Prologues--who said that? Okay, fine with me.

The prologue, according to Merriam-Webster, is "the preface or introduction to a literary work." Hmm... Okay. I don't see anything in that to create dissension, do you? However, dissension there is. In this blog it started with me learning how to spell dissension, because I had it all wrong, but that's probably a little off the subject.

It seems to be kind of a hotbed of a subject. Personally, I like'em. I watch for them. I go back and read them to connect them to the rest of the story and enjoy the "aha" of getting it. I've met very few of them I didn't like for a couple of key reasons. (1) It's about the writing for me more than the story. (2) I like a setup, a foyer that's going to let me know whether the house I'm entering is going to be comfortable or not. If there's a pretty little attention-getter right inside the front door, it grabs my interest.

But I know not everyone does like them. There are people who think they're lazy writing and readers who skip them altogether. I was disdained once  because I said I thought they were fun to write and read. The person in question didn't think fun was a good enough reason for writing anything. As we all know, I am a product of the 1960s--fun is a good enough reason for anything that doesn't hurt anyone.


When I started writing this, I did some looking around on the subject and discovered other people had covered it better than I could hope to, so I'll put a few links here, starting with Kristen Lamb's blog, which was so good I almost gave up before I started. Bang2Write just tells you not to, but it gives you good reasons why. 

As I researched, I found more evidence against the prologue than for it. Mine was the only testimony that seemed to consider "fun" a viable reason for one. So here are today's questions. I hope you weigh in on them. Do you like prologues? Why or why not?

22 comments:

  1. I'm with you! I love prologues. They are a tantalizing part of a book. I try to write one in every chance I get!

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  2. I don't dislike them, and sometimes they're necessary. I can honestly say I've never skipped over one!

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    1. Me, either. I will admit I haven't liked every one I ever read, but I haven't liked every book, either, so why would I? Thanks, Cheryl.

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  3. Sometimes the conflict of a story has been caused by a huge traumatic event from the past. We aren't supposed to start with backstory, but when necessary, we have the prologue option. I wouldn't want to begin reading Chapter one in one time period, then BANG, ten years have passed. That's just rude.

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    1. LOL. I'm with you. Backstory is another one of those things that's been make into a bad guy and I think the prologue is a nice clean way to get it in there--Nan Reinhardt and I have this conversation a lot!

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    2. Yeah, we do have this conversation a lot... it just occurred to me that the discussion we had about prologues and Sarah's story has made me think that the first chapter could just be a prologue... then take her to Willow Bay... skip all the stuff in between... hmmmmm....

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  4. I like a prologue. Not all the time, but most of the time. For me a prologue works best when there is a Big Thing that happens to either the hero or heroine prior to the Big Moment of Change...I don't want just a backstory infodump, but an actual event that may have influenced him or her...and then the Big Moment of Change comes along and switches things up again.

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    1. I agree. I can't even say that I've ever written one that stuck, although One More Summer's Chapter 1 started as one, and maybe that's why--it wasn't a big enough thing. Food for thought, Kristi!

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  5. I enjoy prologues and look forward to reading them. As another product of the 1960s, I believe people benefit by questioning rules. If a reader doesn't like a prologue, then they have the choice of choosing another book. In my last book, I included what should have been a prologue as part of the first chapter. I simply wasn't comfortable with the technique, but have kicked myself more than once for not writing the scene as a prologue.

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    1. Glorious hindsight! :-) I'm with you on questioning the rules, but have become more reticent about breaking them. I think because once everyone started "doing it," quality became an issue.

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  6. I like prologues as Kristina said above, if there is a valid reason for one. I'm also a fan of epilogues. :)

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    1. Oh, I love epilogues, and I don't CARE if anyone thinks they're lazy!

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  7. I like 'em, I write 'em...but because my editor hates them, they usually disappear from the end product of my books. That being said, I do get why they are a bad idea, but I don't entirely agree. I think they can serve a purpose, but I can also see why they can be lazy writing... oh, crud...clearly I'm ambivalent about prologues... we probably shouldn't even get started on epilogues...

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    1. No ambivalency there, Nan--epilogues rock!

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    2. Epilogues are The Awesome - they give us a glimpse of what happened after the big I Love You Forever moment! :)

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  8. I love 'em. They're one of the reasons I got hooked on Martha Grimes. Her prologues grabbed me every time. I think they work really well for mysteries. That said, though, I just like them in general. I know they're out of favor, but so is the serial comma--and I'm still a fan of that:)

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    1. Yeah. I'm kind of there, too, and absolutely with you on the serial comma. And cursive, while we're talking about "out of favor." :-)

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  9. I figure like anything, if it's good, I'll read it :) I have been known to write them in the past. Once it set the story up only to begin the story about ten years in the past in chapter one. That's in one of those filed-under-the-bed books :)

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  10. I love a good prologue ... but nobody on the other side of the writing industry seems to, these days.

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    1. I noticed that when I was out looking around. :-(

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