Sometimes, in order to tell the most effective story, your audience needs to have a bit more information than what the plot can supply.
A prologue can do that. A prologue can add a bit of historical detail, usually to introduce an antagonist of some sort through a particular circumstance.
In the first book of the Song of Ice and Fire series, The Game of Thrones, we are introduced, very subtly to the White Walkers as a few members from the Night’s Watch has a unsettling encounter with them.
Or there is The Lord of the Rings, where the Ring and Sauron are introduced.
Prologues are not exclusives to introducing antagonist. They can offer any details your story needs, but are unable to fit within the actual plot itself. The term “unable” is a tricky one as with any type of finessing, and if the detail is truly vital, you can surely include the information in the plot without having a prologue.
In the end, a prologue is a decision of an author. If used correctly, it can be an effective first jab at hooking the audience. Done poorly, it can be wasted energy slowing down the velocity of your story.
I believe if you so desire to write a prologue, go for it, but afterward, evaluate whether you are simply dumping information onto a page or you are telling an exciting extension of your story and that these detail given at the beginning will be connected later on.
If the detail doesn’t link up, then in the second draft, you might have to cut the prologue. Or, rewrite it so it can do that.
The prologue I wrote for my novel at this time is an idea dump. It’s exposition. I needed it to frame the world I’m going to be creating, but now that I look upon it, I know there is much to be improved on.
The last message sent digitally was to let everyone beyond the border know that there was still hope. The slicing of the cyber thread caused all historical records to vanish. Everything men once knew was forgotten, buried by the erosion of time.
Nature hid humanity’s errors. Towers that once pierced the sky were now rubbles and broken stones. Sprouting forests healed lands that have been scarred by highway concrete. Dams broke, bridges collapsed, and everything else that men had made was surmounted by earth, until all remnants of prior existence were lost.
Yet springing from the ashes came life in the familiar forms. Millenniums passed, and there living without knowledge, upon the land that their ancestors had forfeited were new civilizations. Townships, unions, and districts built so far apart, that societies were forced into isolation. Those that lived were simple folks, concerned only with the matters of survival. Yet life was still hidden in a shroud of darkness and mystery. But those who did not understand did not complain, however, those that did, could only stand terrified as they faced the uncertainty.
What are your thoughts on prologues? Do you use them in your writing? I’d love to hear about it.
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