What is meant by first five pages?

Submission protocol, query etiquette, and strategies that work
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Wolfe3141
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What is meant by first five pages?

Post by Wolfe3141 » April 12th, 2010, 10:59 pm

I have a question of what is meant by "first five pages" when I have a prologue. Would I send the first five pages of the prologue knowing that they are just background information or would I skip them and send the first five pages of the actual novel? And, if I do that would I just mention the prologue in the query?

Thanks!

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Bryan Russell/Ink
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Re: What is meant by first five pages?

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » April 13th, 2010, 7:56 am

Wolfe3141 wrote:I have a question of what is meant by "first five pages" when I have a prologue. Would I send the first five pages of the prologue knowing that they are just background information or would I skip them and send the first five pages of the actual novel? And, if I do that would I just mention the prologue in the query?

Thanks!
Well, the problem seems to be that you have a prologue that is "just background information". And the fact that you're worried about sending it shows that you already know it's a problem. If you know it's just background information, and you know it's not a good hook for the story... then it probably shouldn't be there at all. The info dump prologue is a pet peeve of agents and editors. There really is no prologue and "actual novel". It's all part of the actual novel. If you're going to have a prologue, it has to be an integral part of the action of the novel (not background information), and it has to be the best opening for the novel. It has to be the best way to hook the reader into the story and get them involved. If it's not, and if that hook is really in chapter one... then the prologue shouldn't be there. And from your phrasing here I think you know this, or at least sense it. The best thing to do would be to brainstorm and find a way to work in the necessary information in a different way.

The agents want the first five pages, whether the prologue or chapter one. They want to see what the reader will see. And so the prologue, if there is one, has to be the hook. If it's not, there's a problem.

Best of luck,
Ink
The Alchemy of Writing at www.alchemyofwriting.blogspot.com

tameson
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Re: What is meant by first five pages?

Post by tameson » April 13th, 2010, 10:19 am

I wonder about the prologue more because a lot of agents have said they skip them. My prologue is under 300 words, but it is a good 300 words. :) The epilogue and prologue are from the same POV character, a character who plays an integral part later in the story but has no POV chapters except those two. The prologue gives a very different perspective on several of the races, shows that the "gods" have many pieces in play, and it acts as the first call to the quest. Being so short and from a character whose POV we won't visit again until the very end, I don't want to call it chapter one. But if the agent is going to just toss it aside anyway, I would rather give 5 pages that will get read rather than 4. That negativity regarding prologues is why I wonder about sending mine (assuming I ever get this story polished enough to send out).

Wolfe3141
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Re: What is meant by first five pages?

Post by Wolfe3141 » April 13th, 2010, 9:29 pm

Thank you! The only reason why I created the prologue was because a person I had reading it told me that I needed to have one to explain the world that my mc lived in. I would prefer that they get the information thru the story not with me telling them but at the time I only had a couple of chapters and now the book is almost finished and he has moved.

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