Saturday, February 26, 2011

To Prologue or not to Prologue

I have a three page prologue at the beginning of my current manuscript which covers approximately twenty years of family history for the lead character. It gives a bit of a world setting and sets up for some of the conflict to come.

Some beta readers love it, others hate it, so I have decided it should not stand as it is. I think the problem many readers have is that I kept it intentionally short because I didn't want to put readers off with an expansive prologue. Now I am finding that nearly all the spots in my manuscript where I breeze over things because I think the audience won't be interested in the finer details are the biggest stumbling blocks. When I go back and flesh them out into fully realized scenes the readers enjoy them much more. In my attempt to shorten things, to keep from boring my readers I have created parts that bore the readers...

So, back to the prologue. I need to figure out if it's having the same problem, perhaps instead of three pages it should be ten, or twelve. The only way to find out is to write it. Then I'll cross my fingers and hope people like it so I don't have to cut it entirely.

Anyhow, that's where I am. I hate this stage of writing, it's all second guessing myself, hoping that the changes I make are for the better. It's frustrating, because I feel sometimes like I am making less improvement to the manuscript each day that passes, but occasionally I will have a big breakthrough, or a beta reader will point to a problem I hadn't noticed before. Then I'm thankful I'm taking my time and going through it all thoroughly.


Anonymous said...

Is the prologue the best, most exciting part of the book after the climax? If not, cut it. A lot of industry people hate prologues, and a skilled writer like you can almost always put all the necessary info into the book bit by bit, eg a hero from a poor family will hesitate before buying a bun for a penny. Someone from a criminal family will always turn their face away from soldiers, even when they know they're innocent. And so on. Not everything needs its own scene.

Louise Curtis

Coty Schwabe said...

I had this same problem with Paladin. I had a few paged prologue, and I had a friend of mine read the manuscript. He told me that he intentionally skipped over it, because he likes to learn the story bit by bit. So instead, I scrapped it, wrote an entire chapter that sets up the conflict in a quick pace and called it chapter zero.