A good post at Janet Reid’s blog.
My own take: I used to hate all prologues. Then I wrote a book with a prologue. Then I wrote another books with a prologue. Now I have to limit myself to declaring that I hate all unnecessary, infodumpy, pointless prologues.
And if I were writing a query, I would call the prologue “chapter 1”.
Good comments on this post, btw. My favorite: “I would never skip a prologue. But then, I also read the acknowledgments, dedication, author’s notes and the back of my cereal box in the morning.”
Me, I never read cereal boxes. Now that I no longer eat cereal.
6 thoughts on “Prologues?”
I believe I can generalize, and say: I hate all info-dumpy chapters. I’ve been thinking more about epilogues, particularly Gratuitous Epilogues, I’d like to see. They are mostly couples who I can imagine doing really different things after the story ends. I’ve only come up with 3 easily.
Tehre and Gereint (Griffin Mage)
Tremaine and Ilias (Wizard Hunters)
Rachel and Martin (Singularity Sky, Charles Stross) — not so much an Epilogue, but completion.
As for prologues, the prologue of “First Test”, by Tamora Pierce, was an excellent one. It’s not really part of the story, but it sets up the conflicts in the entire series very well.
Pete, I’d LOVE to see an epilogue with Tremaine and Ilias! And come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind one for Tehre and Gereint. Hmm.
I wouldn’t mind an epilog showing us something of people & situations after the end of the Griffin Trilogy.
Not necessarily Tehre and Gereint, although I’m fond of them. But anyone we’ve seen. What of Mianthe’s odd magic? Does the former cold mage whose name I can’t spell by memory develop anything like Mie’s abilities? Does the king ever find out about Calling Griffins? (I think not.) Does Bertaud ever meet anyone whom he can share it all with, besides Mie, who went through some of it with him? How do things work out personally and politically with the prince raised by the Fierabanders? Are the consequences to the Law country for what they’d done?
My personal peeve with prologues (unintentionally alliterative!) is that too often they seem like the author is not trusting the reader to read smartly–infodumps in lieu of worldbuilding, or tragic backstory that’s then referred to awkwardly. I don’t usually have the same issue with epilogues, although sometimes they’ll tie the story up a little too neatly.
Elaine, I wouldn’t mind knowing how all that worked out myself, but I almost never have any inclination or ability to write short fiction, so more than likely none of us will ever know. But I would like to think Bertaud eventually met the right person and lived happily ever after.
Maureen, I know, right? All this history in a chunk, before the reader has the slightest reason to care about any of the characters — not usually a good sign.