Sunday, June 19, 2011
Where To Start A Novel-Prologues
This is a very broad yet a simple topic to cover. I'm pretty sure there are loads of ideas, advice, and techniques on this topic alone. Why? Because the first 5-10 pages of your book will be the deciding factor when it comes to being noticed by agents or readers. One of the most common mistakes a writer makes is starting their books in the wrong place. So let me try to explain this to you in the best way I can. I think I'll take the layman's approach to clarify instead of cluttering your brains with pretentious words. Here it goes.
In the last few days, I've ranted about my discontent toward prologues on Twitter. Probably because they make me shudder and/or send a chill up my spine. But not in a good way. In the publishing industry, especially among literary agents, prologues are frowned upon, to say it mildly. I've seen some agents who flatly refused to read anything with prologues. So I always advise my friends to not just to shy away from it but to avoid it at all cost by setting it on fire and running the hell away from it.
And yes, there are published books out there that have prologues. But out of all the books ever published world-wide, how many of them were absolutely necessary? In my opinion, and I'm not alone in this, prologues are not necessary UNLESS your novel is some kind of high fantasy with big world-building or a historical type fiction for example. Actually, one of my friends just encountered a book where it was necessary to draw a Venn Diagram and take notes on the funky, extra-consonant-filled names of the characters. In that case, I said a prologue was probably warranted. That way, the pace wouldn't have slowed down in the middle of the first chapter.
Having admitted to that, I'll give you some bad examples or the misuse of prologues. If you're using it to "introduce" all of your characters, everything about your MC, or everything about the world you've built, you should delete it immediately. That's called info-dumping. That's very bad on so many levels. Think about meeting someone for the first time. If at the first meeting that person rambles on about everything including the boyfriend who dumped her 12 years ago on a hot summer night in small town Georgia for example.....you probably wouldn't ask her for any more questions. Readers are the same. Give them time to get to know your character and fall in love with the story. Don't bombard them all at once. Work it into the story, gradually.
In conclusion, make your first few pages the "hook" that grabs the readers. Try to get the story moving, starting from the first sentence. Chances are, if your story doesn't move along by the middle of the first chapter, it won't be read to the end. Okay, that's it for now. My eyes are beginning to glaze over again. I'm guessing it's due to my pure stabby feeling toward....I don't know...prologues!!
P.S. If you're so inclined to leave a comment because you know one or two fabulous books that had prologues? Don't. I know them. They're not what I'm discussing here. I'm discussing the current trend and what didn't or will not work in future books. xoxoxo <3333(If you followed my tweets, you'll understand why these were placed here.)
Labels: Long Writing and Editing Tips