Prologues – Do or Die?

Yes, I know. I’m still supposed to be taking a bloggiesta. The WIP isn’t done.

BUT, as a writer, I’m treading water trying to decide what to do about a certain plot hiccup. Then, I decided, it wasn’t a hiccup at all.

I always want to slip in a prologue. They’re fun to write! They give us backstory that is needed (so we think) for character development. I’ve been lovingly massaging a prologue on my WIP for what feels like ages. Then, I had a moment of inspiration at 2 AM night before last.

Prologues are a no no. Agents tell us not to write them. Publishers say they’re unnecessary. But, my favorite authors all write prologues. Nora Roberts. Clive Cussler. Prologues! Something of key element to the story, the plot progression, a clue for the climax!

Ah. That’s what I was missing. Plot progression.

My prologue was simply character development. An explanation of WHY my heroine, a maritime archaeologist, was tentative about getting back in the water. But was it essential? Could I show those same elements elsewhere in the story, and not waste a whole 7 pages building up to that?

Instead, now I’m focusing on an event in history (which I’m creative licensing for my own purposes) – and writing a 3 page, exciting historical opening to my contemporary action/romance. I’m not sure if it will stick around, but it’s key to the climax and right now, it’s serving a purpose for me.

Back to writing my 1 k a day on Sapphire Tears – where Maritime Archaeologist is following a historical mystery before time runs out!  And now, readers will be privvy to at least a little part of that mystery in the prolouge.

Should it stay? Should I reveal it through conversation/discussion later in the story? We’ll see. But for now, at least, I can stop treading water, and get back to swimming.


About Ashley Ludwig

Ashley Ludwig is an Editor for Patch News, Orange County and Los Angeles. She is also an inspirational romantic suspense author.

2 responses to “Prologues – Do or Die?”

  1. bigwords88 says :

    You’ll probably get a whole lot of people telling you that prologues are verbotten, but I would like to think that (as long as you recognize that you’re breaking the rules) then anything is possible. The main problem with prologues is that they are often entirely redundant in the larger scope of the novel.

    Try it out to see how it reads, but make sure you really need the extra build-in to your story. I wouldn’t write off the idea of using a prologue, but I would make damn sure it worked for the story instead of against it. People have a tendancy to skip prologues, so the big hook would need to be fixed straight from the start to keep attentioned focused.

    Good luck with your writing.

  2. Ashley Ludwig says :

    Thanks, Bigwords88!

    I’ll leave it alone and keep up with the plot progression. I think the understanding of the event in history that is reflected in this “intro” let’s call it (and leave the P word out of it) – is a must for finishing the book.

    Whether or not it makes it in the final version? Remains to be seen.

    Nice to meet you and thanks for popping over.

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