Saturday, 13 January 2018

Prologues In Fiction

Jessica Norrie wrote an interesting piece about prologues in fiction yesterday. It got me thinking.

I use them sometimes. Turner has quite an extended one, which isn't immediately connected to the main novel apart from location and mood ("Oh shit, something bad is going to happen!") but becomes highly relevant later. Turner's intro is labelled as a prologue; but in a way, anything before an inciting incident is a kind of prologue, whether labelled as one or not.

Prologues get a bad rep because they are sometimes unnecessary, and don't stand alone as satisfying. That's why my favourite prologues have "Yes" as answers to the question: "Would I get something from reading it, even if it was disconnected from the rest of the book?" If it is exciting to read, or a good standalone story, or fantastic prose - then it should be fine. If it is just an infodump, then delete it.

But as with all of writing: if the end effect works, then it over-rides Every Other Rule. The best writing is an art, not a craft. Craft follows and perfects rules, but art can break them.

What do you think? Any prologues that did or didn't work for you?