Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Prologues, do you skip them?
I've sent book three back to the publisher with the edits done and I'm rolling up my sleeves to get back into my new WIP (work-in-progress). Because you know, you can never really stop writing. It just sucks you in and before you know it, you're writing another book.
Right now I'm struggling with a difficult decision. I've started the new series with a prologue. I've never done this before, always just jumped right into the story. But this book seemed to need the prologue to set up the story. I'm 240 pages into it now and I'm beginning to think it was a mistake.
I'm one of those impatient people who always skip prologues. I just want to get into the meat of the story.
According to Lital Talmor you have to ask yourself these three questions:
• Do you really need a prologue?
• What does your prologue do?
• And finally, Does it get the job done right?
Read the rest of her article here. I think my prologue does set up the story. Vickie Britton says 'a prologue (or epilogue) can help explain a complicated story'. Read the rest of her article here. And my story certainly is complicated.
But what if the reader is just going to skip the prologue?
Maeve Maddox says, 'beware the back story disguised as prologue'. And she comes up with three reasons to ditch your prologue. See the full article here.
Meanwhile, Carolyn Jewel thinks 'a prologue should be a last resort, used only when there's absolutely no other effective way to convey the information. Note, I did not say easier way, I said effective way. Writing is hard work.' (She wasn't kidding about the hard work). See the rest of her article here.
So it all comes back to me again. My prologue does reveal information which is back story, but it helps make the opening chapters easier to understand. I'm veering towards taking it out and seeing if my test readers think I need one. I'll be taking it to a ROR writing retreat in September.
Funnily enough, I don't mind an epilogue. I like dropping back in on characters to have a cup of tea and catch up, especially if nice things have been happening for them.
What about you? Do you skip prologues? Do prefer epilogues to prologues?