Prologue (Greek πρόλογος prologos, from προ~, pro~ – fore~, and lógos, word)
When I first started writing Dancing at The Orange Peel, it was in first person from 10-year-old Libby Billings’ point-of-view and the novel began with a prologue. Last year at the St. George Writer’s Retreat, I wrote a short segment from the POV of Libby’s mother, Gwen, and determined then that this story has to have two points-of-view. Shortly afterwards, my dear friend and Wednesday Night Writers member Adrian informed me that my prologue no longer works. BooHiss!!
I have quietly resisted for a year now not wanting to lose the “set-up” that the prologue provides, the timeframe it identifies, and the tension that it ignites…all the while knowing that Adrian is absolutely right. It doesn’t work anymore. Not just because of the POV change, but also because my story has changed over time. So this past week, as I committed myself to “Begin Anew,” promised myself a morning writing routine, I have been rewriting to incorporate the information from the prologue into the main part of the story. I haven’t got it right yet, but I will eventually.
The topic of ‘the prologue’ has come up often in our writer’s meetings. Do they work for one genre, but not another? How are they perceived by agents? Are they a shortcut or can they be a vital part of the story?
If you are writing or have written a book with a prologue or if you have a favorite book that uses one successfully, I’d like to hear about it. What are your thoughts about the use of this narrative device?