Prolouge Questions

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washingtonwriter1968
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Prolouge Questions

Post by washingtonwriter1968 » July 15th, 2011, 9:55 pm

How long is too long for a Prologue? I mean is there a set amount of words? I am asking because it is 1,452 words is that too long? I have never sat down and counted any prologues so I am not sure what average is.
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Re: Prolouge Questions

Post by cheekychook » July 15th, 2011, 10:34 pm

There is no set amount of words for a prologue. It can be as long or as short as it needs to be, within reason. At 1400 words yours would come in at about 6 pages, which is certainly an acceptable length. While many prologues are shorter than a standard chapter (from within that particular book), others are as long as the average chapter. The only time I'd be concerned is if the prologue is longer than most of the chapters in the book itself. If it is, then I'd consider cutting it down or making it into a fist chapter (or first few chapters) rather than setting it apart as a prologue. I'm guessing a 1400 word prologue is not longer than your average chapter, so this length shouldn't be an issue for you.
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Re: Prolouge Questions

Post by washingtonwriter1968 » July 15th, 2011, 11:22 pm

Thanks Karen.
I also have a few more ?s My Prologue is very different from the rest of the book. My arc-heal-type is one of rivalry. My POV is told through the voice of my object of of said rivalry (MC). The POV is in first person. however my Prologue is in second person. In it I set up the rules of engagement in the form of an experiment.

I say all that to say this..... I have heard that a prologue like this can not be well done does anyone agree?
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Re: Prolouge Questions

Post by CharleeVale » July 16th, 2011, 12:11 am

Anything can be done, anything can be done well. Somethings are a lot more difficult than others. Second person is notoriously hard to write in, but if you think you pull it off, go for it.

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Re: Prolouge Questions

Post by polymath » July 16th, 2011, 12:21 am

You're asking excellent questions, washingtonwriter1968, on this thread topic and other threads. A guiding principle for answering them is what will readers take from the concepts under question, how artful or artless are the applications of the writing concepts, principles, and guidelines.

Anyway, on the prefatory content question. What distinguishes prefatory content is which type of prefatory comment and what purposes they each serve. Prefatory content is also distinguished by the voice of which persona reports what. In general, prefatory content provides useful information for understanding the main action to come.

Author introduction, traditionally an editor or publisher or celebrity personage's voice introducing the author to readers and providing insight into the main action to come.

Author's foreword, author's voice providing background information about the main action to come.

Preface, traditionally an author's voice reporting details important for understanding the main action, a point of order, for instance, like particulars not readily interpretable from just wading directly into the main action. A preface might also introduce a narrator.

Prologue, traditionally in a narrator's voice, oftentimes providing backstory through exposition. Exposition in the sense of setup or outset or introduction to the main action.

Prelude, traditionally in the same voice as the main action, reporting circumstances in close narrative distance important to understanding the main action to come. A prelude reports actions, events, characters, and/or settings which occur out of chonological order, perhaps earlier in time than the main action, perhaps later than the main action, or perhaps from some point in time between the opening time and the ending time, and will become pivotal once the main action opens or soon thereafter.

Many readers will skip any prefatory content except maybe a prelude. Many screening readers might balk at any prefatory content. In the infamous words of screenplay critics, cut to the chase, for cripe's sake. Cut to the chase, meaning quit piddling around, get to the chase scene. And a term first used by print shop masters back in ye olden times, meaning skip proof printing and proofreading. Lock the type galley up in the chase, the frame that holds type in a printing press. And go directly into production printing. In other words, get on with the job now, right now, stat. Cut to the chase has become closely associated with the cinematic arts lately though, and is now for all intents and purposes a cinematic metaphor becoming an idiom, if not already an idiom.

On the second person question, second person in literary theory is most artful when it closes narrative distance most closely. In general, artful second person is in a self-reflexive mood. Generally, again, addresses to the self as a transference for first person. For example, You narrate your pitiful existence like a television melodrama voiceover.
Last edited by polymath on July 16th, 2011, 4:27 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Prolouge Questions

Post by washingtonwriter1968 » July 16th, 2011, 12:23 am

Here is the idea. ...
In a totally new dimension two parties are at war. They are very aware of us here in this dimension. They decide to send to Champions to our dimension to win over one of us.

Then I start with this party my(MC)'s POV and the story begins.
This is what I mean,having a prologue in 2 POV.
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Re: Prolouge Questions

Post by washingtonwriter1968 » July 16th, 2011, 12:35 am

Prelude, traditionally in the same voice as the main action, reporting circumstances in close narrative distance important to understanding the main action to come. A prelude reports actions, events, characters, and/or settings which occur out of chonological order, perhaps earlier in time than the main action, perhaps later than the main action, or perhaps from some point in time between the opening time and the ending time, and will become pivotal once the main action opens or soon thereafter.
OK according to this definition what I am writing is a prelude.
This prelude includes a series of actions that is causal to all actions that follow!

And I was not meaning second person by that definition. What I mean is....
My prelude uses this voice, {Two boys walked to the store one night}
While my main body uses this voice, {I was uncomfortable in the cold night air and decided I needed a jacket.}
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Re: Prolouge Questions

Post by polymath » July 16th, 2011, 12:47 am

washingtonwriter1968 wrote:OK according to this definition what I am writing is a prelude.
This prelude includes a series of actions that is causal to all actions that follow!
That's great. Preludes in general are more palatable for readers because they don't appreciably open narrative distance. They get in close and stay closer than prologues.
washingtonwriter1968 wrote:And I was not meaning second person by that definition. What I mean is....
My prelude uses this voice, {Two boys walked to the store one night}
While my main body uses this voice, {I was uncomfortable in the cold night air and decided I needed a jacket.}
Okay then. Two distinct narrative voices, one for the prelude in grammatical third person, and one for the main action in grammatical first person according to that example. The ending of the prelude ideally ought best to transition into an introduction of the main action's narrator so readers are prepared for the transition and not jarred out of the narrative. First to third is generally less disruptive without a transition introduction than third to first.
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Re: Prolouge Questions

Post by washingtonwriter1968 » July 16th, 2011, 10:13 am

The ending of the prelude ideally ought best to transition into an introduction of the main action's narrator so readers are prepared for the transition and not jarred out of the narrative. First to third is generally less disruptive without a transition introduction than third to first.
Thanks for this advice. In truth, a transition of sorts is in the beginning 1st chapter, but it is very sloppy. With this advice in mind I think I am going rewrite what I have there,and add it to my prelude. How large of a transition should I make, after all as someone said my prelude as of now is about 5 pages.
Any tips on transitions from a third to first voice that are clean and quick would be very much appreciated.

Thanks so very much for all the advice and time. As usual you have given me more than enough to think about, and I always come up with a better work for it. :D Thanks!
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Re: Prolouge Questions

Post by polymath » July 16th, 2011, 11:23 am

Transitions come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes a few words are all that's needed. Some, more lengthy setup leading into transition. Some preludes and prologues just introduce the narrator of the main action, which is transition enough.

Third to first. Hmm. Two boys walked to the store one night. I was one of them. Or something to that effect, but more artfully, I guess.
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Re: Prolouge Questions

Post by Rebecca Kiel » July 18th, 2011, 8:15 am

Some seasoned writers like Orson Scott Card says never, ever write a prologue. Ever. Wolff's A Vintage Affair has a prologue that got me to read the rest of the book.

I think it is essential to be sure you need a prologue in the first place. What is its purpose? Is there another way to convey information in the body of the book? Are you starting where the story begins?

These questions are important to ask ourselves to be sure we are writing the best version possible of the manuscript.

Hope this helps.

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