To Prologue or Not to Prologue

I am not a fan of prologues.  Some writers have the appalling habit of augmenting a poor beginning with a prologue that is not really a prologue but a more of an interlogue, a section taken from the middle of the book. While this might create suspense and keep us reading through a less than stellar beginning, it is not really necessary to the story since the material is a duplication, and we feel duped when we reread it during the course of the book.

I don’t even have much use for true prologues, which present events that happen before the story begins. If the material is important, it should be included in the body of the work.  

Despite that, I used a prologue in Light Bringer.

In a previous post, I spoke of my comma usage in the work. I suppose I could go through and rethink all the commas, but in the end I’m not sure it’s worth it; a publisher who also has a prejudice against prologues might want me to get rid of the entire piece. It is a true prologue in that the events take place thirty-five years before the present day action, but it has a major fault: I introduce a character who does not appear again in person, only as the subject of conversation. Since I do the same thing in the first chapter, I could be creating confusion about whose story this is.

While rewriting the book, I considered getting rid of the prologue but I kept it for three reasons: I wanted readers to experience for themselves the events that precipitated the story,  it was the way I originally conceived it, and I loved the image of tiny footprints in the snow. The prologue might seem like a darling, a word used by William Faulkner to describe the parts we love but that have no real function in the story, and maybe it is. But Light Bringer is my work, my creation, and until I find a publisher, I can do whatever I want with it.

And right now, I want the prologue.

3 Responses to “To Prologue or Not to Prologue”

  1. Katherine Says:

    Prologues have gotten a bad rap. Yeah, a lot of prologues are bad, but there are also instances where they make sense. My opinion is, if it works for the story, use it. If it’s excessive and not necessary and not interesting, then toss it. Heck, label it chapter one and then people won’t get into an uproar. There’s no rule that says years can’t go by between chapters one and two.

  2. nomananisland Says:

    I personally usually take prologues that way — they’re setting up something. That doesn’t mean they can’t be used badly, anything can be used badly. But in general, I just think of it as a chapter one, very introductory.

  3. Suzanne Francis Says:

    That’s what I did with my book. I found myself constantly referring to past events in the later chapters, so I added a new chapter one, and let ten years pass between that and the new chapter two. It allowed me to remove most of the references, and made the beginning of the book more interesting. I had learned a thing or two about writing by the time I added it on.

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