Wednesday, August 13, 2008

To Prologue or Not to Prologue

Each one of my books in The Chillwane Chronicles trilogy opens with a prologue. In my mind, a prologue provides upfront information not directly revealed in the first 50 pages; it weaves an element of continuity through the three books; and, frankly, it provides an instant tinge of mood. Now, I don't pen lengthy prologues. I figure (and this is just me) that if I can't say it in a page or less, then it needs to be part of the exposition or wiggled into the conflict.

Minju Chang, an agent with BookStop Literary Agency since 2006, disagrees. There are few times when a prologue is needed, she says. When she looked over the opening pages of my manuscript, she asked pointed questions about the purpose of the prologue. To my credit, I think I defended its existance adequately enough. But I can't thank her enough for her willingness to be that difficult combination of sharply critical and graciously kind.

Because, ultimately, the prologue didn't matter. I tucked my tail, sidled into my study, and took a good, long, hard look at each one of the prologues. And deleted them. Even though I had initially thought them integral to the story, each was entirely dispensible. Minju was right. And thanks to her insight, I have a stronger beginning: more solid, more impact.


Anonymous said...

It's true some people skip prologues. Some people won't even read a book if the first page says 'Prologue' at the top.

Personally, I both enjoy and expect prologues. Especially in an epic fantasy. I like to get a glimpse through forbidden eyes into what happened many years ago. I like to look for clues as to what the ending might be.

Sure, it's all bonus. But I'm also the kind of person that likes to read prequels and spin-offs. :)

If your stories didn't need them, then bravo for being mature enough to come to that conclusion and delete them. (Well, I probably would have just saved them under a file folder called 'deleted scenes'.)

Dave King said...

By first visit to your excellent blog, but certainly not my last.

Alex Moore said...

@cirellio: insightful points. I've always enjoyed prologues precisely for the "forbidden glimpse" you talk about. (& yes, the prologues are saved under "deleted scenes" *grin* thanks!)

@dave king: welcome! hope you enjoy the visit; I've enjoyed perusing your blog as well.