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The Prologue, how much should you put in a prologue?

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Briman, Oct 12, 2004.

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  1. Briman

    Briman Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Oct 8, 2004
    I was just wondering, how much information should be in a prologue? Interesting question, no?
     
  2. AramysStrael

    AramysStrael Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 9, 2004
    I'm no expert, and it certainly has been a long time since I checked this forum out, but I would suggest anywhere from several paragraphs to a short chapter.
    In most stories that have a prologue, it is basically that opening chapter that introduces the reader to the storyline. Think of it in context with a thesis. You start the thesis with, basically, opening up the topic with the most basic question of them all: what is this topic about. And just as the opening question of the thesis is the prologue, the conclusion of said thesis would be your epilogue. Pretty much a half-chapter to full chapter devoted to tidying things up so that you have a solid ending.
    I know this sounds like a lot of babbling, sorry. In the movies, Lucas was able to pull off the prologue with three simple sentences (the scrolling text) and that was enough for movie-viewing audiences. Readers are a different lot. So a little more detail needs to go into it. I would recommend a short chapter and just go from there.
     
  3. VadersMistress

    VadersMistress Jedi Knight star 6

    Registered:
    Apr 7, 2004
    I agreee with Aramys. A short chapter should be fine
    and include enough information to be satisfactory.
     
  4. JediMaster_Jen

    JediMaster_Jen Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 3, 2002
    As was said above, I think anything from a small paragraph to a small chapter with good detail is generally acceptable.

    It varies from fic to fic and from writer to writer. Use your own judgement-write what you're comfortable writing. It's up to you.
     
  5. Mike-Sunrider

    Mike-Sunrider Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Oct 4, 2003
    You should write with what you feel right.

    I don't think there is an actual rule to how to write something.
     
  6. Katana_Geldar

    Katana_Geldar Jedi Grand Master star 8

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2003
    I define prologue as a scene before the story vegins that gives an idea on what has happened so far, but that's because i'm writing a multi-fic series at the moment

    i normally have a prolgue and a movie-style crawl giving the basic information.
     
  7. CodeName_Targeter

    CodeName_Targeter Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2003
    With my fics, I usually use prolouges to give background information if I even have one. For example, in my current fic, I use the prologue to se the stage for what's to come. Without the information you recieve in that first piece of story, the entire fic makes no sense.

    So like everyone above said, it depends from story to story.

    :targeter:
     
  8. Lt_Jaina_Solo

    Lt_Jaina_Solo Jedi Knight star 5

    Registered:
    May 27, 2002
    It truely depends from story to story. In some, you're giving background information that needs to be known before the reader reads the first chapter. In other stories, you're setting the stage. The length depends as well, on what you're discussing and how much information you're trying to get across.

    ~LtJS @};-

     
  9. 1Yodimus_Prime

    1Yodimus_Prime Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 13, 2004
    Like people have said, one reason for a prologue is to give the reader important information on the backstory before you get into the complicated meat of the tale.


    Then there's the thematic type of prologue. This is a prologue, set cronologically anywhen before or after the story takes place, that you'd write in more of a story form than the informative kind would be written in. It's purpose is to give the reader a sense of exactly what kind of story is really taking place here. It's a good idea if you're writing an Action story that starts off very slow, or an introspective story that starts off actioney, to give simple examples. Giving a sense of what the theme of your story really is can do wonders. Especially in keeping the reader from being hoplessly confused.

    Unless you like hopelessly confusing your readers, that is. ;)
     
  10. DCWiz00

    DCWiz00 Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Mar 29, 2004
    I use the prologue as a definition of how my story will proceed. It is usually, at most, half the length of a normal chapter. I never use the main characters in the prologue unless it is relevant to have them in it. Instead, I usually will have background characters that are used to set up the main conflict of the story, or set up the background of what the story is about. To use the movies as an example, the scrolling script before each movie sets up the conflict of the movie and tells the background information needed to understand the movies story. The prologue is similiar to this. :D
     
  11. dark_jedi_lover

    dark_jedi_lover Jedi Knight star 1

    Registered:
    Dec 25, 2004
    This is a mind-boggling topic for me [face_hypnotized]

    In my story, the prologue is the setup for the reason the whole plot works, and the setup for my OC and his future. BUT, neither of those points will be explained to the reader till late in the story. I just hope it's not too confusing to have a prologue that (seemingly) has no purpose.
     
  12. _JM_

    _JM_ Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 26, 2001
    One thing I would say is that it depends on whether the story is an AU or Canon. With alternate history novels (such as those written by Harry Turtledove) you can sometimes get quite a large chapter at the front of the book detailing what changes have happened to history and how the alternate history has progressed.

    So if you have an AU story where you have made a change, which has caused a change, which has caused a change, which has created the situation your story is set in then you might have quite a lengthy prologue or even prologues. A plot bunny that nibbled me enough to start to be roughly planned out has four prologues (long time ago, -5 years, -4 years, and -2 years) because the situation needs the setup.

    Alternatively another plot bunny that nibbled me enough that it is fairly completely planned I could have had a quite detailed prologue with what the reason for Lord Vader?s actions are, but I think it will work better with him just having flashes of images in the force and the reader learning the details at the same time he does.

    So if details of the background can be learned by a character or can be conveyed in a flashback in the main body of the story, and to do so will provide a more dramatic opening, then it might be worth transferring the information there and making the prologue shorter.
     
  13. Mjsullivan

    Mjsullivan Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 8, 2003
    I also think that the use of a prologue can be just like that of a normal chapter that would otherwise be out of place.

    In my current fic, the prologue is the set-up for the entire story, but takes place some weeks before the fics timeframe and deals with a secondary character. Considering that the body of the fic deals with events taking place over two or three days, a sudden leap forward of two or more weeks between chapters 1&2 would have been out of place. By making the first 'chapter' a prologue, the story can flow much better. Its a similar story with the epilogue - it takes place some weeks after the main story, hence why it isn't going to be tacked on as the 41st chapter.

    But I think this use of the prologue is dependent on a fic dealing with a short timeframe where long jumps forward in time are rare.
     
  14. Alethia

    Alethia Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 13, 2005
    Ooh...interesting question. In my opinion, a Prologue should probably be shorter than the other chapters, but that doesn't mean it has to be short. A prologue just has some facts that take place before the story starts, that you need to have before the story starts, if that makes sense. Probably doesn't... oh well *grins*

    In any case, a prologue is just setting up the story for your first chapter. But really, you can do what you want with it, in my opinion. And you don't really even need one, necessarily.
     
  15. maderic

    maderic Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Oct 8, 2004
    I go the Lucas way and write my own opening scroll. :)
     
  16. Bacon164

    Bacon164 Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Mar 22, 2005
    Man, my prologue was a story in itself. Eleven pages long. It had to give a big explanation of what was going on. My current fanfic is abnormal. [face_plain] But, normally, I think it should be about a page or two, just barely enough to draw one in, and than hold them there. [face_devil]
     
  17. Alethia

    Alethia Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 13, 2005
    My prologue was eight pages and the average length of my chapters has been 15 pages. So with that ratio, I think it works. But I will admit that usually prologues are supposed to be shorter...
     
  18. OmnipotentSeal

    OmnipotentSeal Jedi Youngling star 1

    Registered:
    Jun 15, 2005
    I think the best way to find if you NEED a prologue would be to write the story as is, as you intend it to be read, and see if there are things that MUST be explained in order for people to get it, that can be explained within the story itself. I once wrote a story in which the main character wins this futuristic drinking game, but I had already set up a bunch of secondary characters that I really liked and wondered what happened to them after the actual story. Hence, I wrote an epilogue. I imagine a prologue should follow suit...
     
  19. wendynat

    wendynat Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Jun 8, 2005
    First of all, a prologue (IMHO) should only be used when needed, either to set story tone or give needed background information. In most of my fic writing I don't use one (I've written in other fandoms before) but in my recently-started Star Wars novel-lengther I did use a prologue to help set the stage and the tone of story. The prologue is actually set in the future, after events in the story occur. In a way, it's a bit of a teaser but it also assists with the overall tone.

    As far as length, the prologue is generally shorter than the rest of the chapter but not always. In my fic, it's much shorter than Chapter One, where the "real" action begins. I've seen prologues that were longer than chapters that worked quite well, though - multi-scene prologues and such.

    So that's my non-answer: it all depends ;).
     
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