Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Two of the first three books in the Bowers series have prologues. What determines whether or not to use a prologue?

Typically, there are two times when I include a prologue: when introducing a subplot and when giving background information on the main character that cannot naturally be woven into the narrative that follows.

So for example, in The Pawn I used the prologue to introduce the plot thread dealing with the Jonestown massacre in 1978. In The Rook, the prologue is used to introduce a plot thread that might be considered the main plot, but because of the time span between that opening scene and the introduction of Patrick Bowers and Tessa, it seemed more natural to call it the prologue (especially since the rest of the story happens without a long span of time between scenes).

In The Knight I wanted to jump right into the narrative, so readers meet Patrick at a crime scene as the book begins.

My forthcoming book Placebo includes a prologue that provides background information about Jevin Banks, the protagonist, that could not be naturally woven into the main story without having a long flashback, which I try to avoid if at all possible because it can kill the narrative momentum.

Some writing instructors will tell aspiring authors never to use a prologue. I think this is just plain silly. If the story demands it, include it. If not, delete it or move the information further into the story.

Finally, if you have a prologue that introduces the main plot and leads directly into the next scene, you can fix that quite easily: just rename it “Chapter 1.”

1 comment:

  1. Steven, thanks for clarifying your position on the continuing debate over prologues