Thursday, June 4, 2020

Obligatory June Post - Prologues

I understand you need a pro logger?

I don't mind prologues.

There, I said it.

Around the world, publishers, editors, and agents are suddenly crying out in fear, and they don’t even know why.

But it’s true. I don’t have a problem with them at all. I grew up reading them. I honestly thought they were a necessary part of every fantasy book series. It just seemed like a thing that was done.

Some author acquaintances have said that if they see the word they skip to the first chapter. That seems disingenuous to the author and the book. Why would you leave out any information that the writer determined was necessary to the story?

Maybe I’m just that naive.

To be fair, most of works that I’ve read with a prologue were written by masters of the genre. They legit knew what they were doing. But that’s the entire point. They know the rules, so when they bend or break them, there is (generally) a reason for doing so.

Of course, therein lies the rub.

Because when we see a master do something, we want to emulate that. When I first started writing, my reasoning behind using a prologue wasn’t a keen understanding of the tool. I was just monkey-see monkey-doing.  This is likely why editors/publishers/agents don't like them. Doing it to do it, and doing it right are wholly two different things.

I had to look to be certain, but THE CLOCKWORK DETECTIVE has a prologue. Originally, I'd written it and then cut it. Not for any of the reasons above, but because I wanted to get to the action sooner. Starting with a dirigible docking seemed more interesting. Then, I approached my editor and we added it back in. Yep, that book that just won a bronze medal has the dreaded, feared, and reviled “prologue” sitting right there at the beginning of the book in front of gods and everyone. It started life around two-thousand words. Working with my editor, we trimmed it down to a tidy 161. A single paragraph that introduces you to the victim of the mystery and the instant of his death.

Fun, huh?

What do you think of prologues?
Tell me in the comments below!