The ubiquitous prologue

Hmm. Looks like we’re going to start with a prologue on this novel.

I’m not a fan of prologues.

Some writers, particularly beginning writers, seem to think that because they’re writing a fantasy their novel absolutely, positively must have a prologue, whether it needs one or not.

A common mistake is writing a prologue that really is the first chapter of the novel. If the prologue uses protagonists from the main novel (particularly point-of-view characters), and covers a period of time shortly before the rest of the novel starts then this is not a prologue, it’s part of the main story and should be treated as such.

If a prologue is used to denote a time break, then that break should be a long one, again particularly if the protagonist is a main point-of-view character.

Personally, I like the way they do in the movies in this case. Start with the beginning of the story, then pop up a line—”Four years later”—at the start of the next chapter and keep going.

Another common mistake is the “This is a fantasy. I must have a prologue” type prologue.

This one has absolutely no reason to be in the story whatsoever. You could cut it out and no-one would even know it had gone.

A prologue has to be there for a reason.

David Eddings‘ prologue at the start of THE BELGARIAD series is one that works. You must read the prologue to fully understand what the story is about. It deals with matters that happened to secondary characters hundreds of years prior. Things that were written about in another series. What happens in The Belgariad is a direct result of events triggered in the prologue. (Some people might argue that Belgarath and Polgara were not secondary characters, but I say they were. The story is Garion’s, start to finish.)

Do you see what I see?

It wasn’t until the fourth draft of POTION that Sherylyn and I realised we didn’t see the characters the same way. Tegan, one of the point-of-view characters in Potion has long dark curls that frame her face. We mention her eye colour—blue—when comparing her to someone else but that’s pretty much all the description you…

Peek into another book

Finished a major draft of SHARED MEMORIES last night. I’m sitting here now with pen in hand while Sherylyn reads it through, waiting to write down her comments as she reads. She doesn’t like the start. That’s normal. She never likes the start of our books. This one has already been re-written about five times.…

Why write novels

A question related to “Why do you write?” but slightly easier to answer, is “Why do you write novels?” Because we can’t write any shorter. I read numerous writing advice where they say, “Start off with small steps. Start off writing short stories, and then graduate up to novels.” Sound advice but I, for one,…

Why do you write?

People ask, “Why do you write?” It’s a difficult question to answer, and my reply would more be along the lines of, “How can one not write?” rather than a considered reflection on the reasons I write. I just do. I always have. Sherylyn and I analyse other parts of our writing in depth. Style…

Killing off your characters

So J. K. Rowling intends to kill off a couple of major characters in her Harry Potter series, according to an interview she did with Britain’s Channel 4. In the widely quoted interview, Rowling says that she … understood an author’s desire to kill off the main character of a successful series. … “I can…

Online novels

An ongoing link to other on-line novels. John Scalzi’s Agent to the Stars is a comic look at a Hollywood agent who takes on his biggest clients yet. Aliens who want to improve their image. Read this and enjoyed it, although it’s probably not normally my cup of tea. Showing signs of the writer Scalzi…