So, I’ve started writing again, and I’ve started blogging again. I stopped doing both back at the start of the year, and I’m not entirely sure why. I think that ultimately I was a bit frustrated – I was doing a lot of typing, a lot of short fiction, but almost no work on my novel ideas (which was the purpose of the blog in the first place).
But here we are at a new beginning, and having now hit the first thousand words of my new story idea, I’m inclined to think about the concept of ‘beginnings’, particularly whether ‘prologues’ in a novel are a good or a bad thing. Personally I kinda like ’em, but I’m interested in your view.
Why am I thinking about prologues? Because I’ve just spent 1000 words writing the start of one.
Apparently (i.e. according to my limited research) prologues have suffered a decrease in popularity – theory being that readers have limited patience and you should just start your damn story at the latest possible point. People are busy, get to the meat already. And this makes a lot of sense on the surface – no-one likes to be bored before they get to the good stuff.
The prevailing advice is, “Prologues can eat a sack of wombat cocks, and if you use one you will be ostracized and forced to eat dust and drink urine, you syphilitic charlatan.” Harsh, but there it is. Also, wrong — a prologue should never be an automatic, but hell, if you need one, you need one. Here’s how you know: if your prologue is better used as the first chapter, then it’s not a prologue. It’s a first chapter.
So – If you are going to begin, then for fucks sake begin.
Chuck says it in this paragraph – there are no absolutes here. Some of my favourite books start before the main story actually begins. Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone starts with baby Harry being dropped off with the Dursleys. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo begins with an old man receiving a framed flower for his birthday.
These soft beginnings tease at the main story without revealing much. Tiny hints of deeper mysteries. Not enough to give away the plot, but enough to get us hooked – which is what you want from a beginning anyway.
So my question is:
As a reader, are you pro prologues?