Something we've discussed before, but I'm seeing statistics for
now, and it's weird.
About 1/3 of the people who hit my novel site and actually go on to read the novel itself jump straight to chapter 1, skipping the prologue.
The prologue contains what I consider to be pretty important set up for the rest of the story. While it's true that you could pick up from chapter one and follow the main plot, you're disservicing yourself by skipping the prologue. This is the same reason I always slog through the prologue of any novel I decide to read (usually, it's interesting, though I'll admit sometimes not).
Do you folks skip the prologue when you read fiction? I can understand skipping the prologue and even the first chapter in a TECHNICAL book, but a novel?
April 19th, 2007 7:25am
Maybe if the Prologue was the first chapter, more people would read it.
Instead of calling it the prologue, call it "Important stuff you need in order to understand the rest of the story."
April 19th, 2007 7:27am
But you don't NEED to read it to understand the story. It just helps. Like any Prologue.
I just don't get skipping it. I'm not offended by them skipping it, I just find it curious.
April 19th, 2007 7:28am
To me, it's like buying a dozen eggs and then only using 11 of them.
Granted they haven't bought anything when they read the story on my site.
April 19th, 2007 7:28am
Why do you call it a prologue?
Doesn't that name imply some sort of redundancy, that it's just extra info that you don't really need but the author felt like sharing anyway?
If it's part of the story make it chapter 1 or chapter 0 if you feel artistic.
Locutus of Borg
April 19th, 2007 7:44am
Or call it "Introduction".
April 19th, 2007 7:53am
Well, it's backstory. So you can argue either side: that it's part of the story or it isn't.
If you skip it, you won't have trouble following the story from chapter 1. However, the prologue has a lot more action than chapter 1 and contains some foreshadowing and explanations that you won't get without reading it, so it's a loss to skip it.
I guess my concern is that if people skip the prologue, they may find the book too slowly paced in the beginning, since there's no explosions or killing until like, chapter 4 or 5.
The prologue has explosions, death, betrayals...
April 19th, 2007 7:54am
Rename it "Explosions, Death, Betrayals" and watch the traffic.
April 19th, 2007 7:59am
Just get Cate Blanchett to narrate it and see who pays attention.
April 19th, 2007 8:01am
So everyone that's replied is a prologue-skipper? What in the hell is wrong with you people? Do you stop reading before the epilogue, too?
To answer the question, no, I read the whole story.
April 19th, 2007 9:54am
muppet, where is your story?
IN THE BOX
April 19th, 2007 10:57am
I think it's like buying a dozen eggs and not eating the carton. Or not using it to organize washers and nuts and bolts in the garage.
No one's interested in the backstory by itself. Either it's a good on its own so make it a chapter, or it doesn't, so sprinkle it thru the rest of the novel. People aren't reading it because they want to jump into the action of the story, they want to get going. Action does not mean deaths, explosions, etc, it means stuff happening; in the prologue no action can actually happen, it's a frigging prologue, it's like a singer clearing his throat.
The only good prologue I can remember is Nabokov's Lolita. I *didn't* read it the first time though. Skimmed the first page or two. Second reading I understood why he had written a prologue at all (he's sneaky that way).
April 19th, 2007 11:28am
Um, come to think of it I guess certain books use 'Prologue' as a framing device (like Lolita mentioned above). I dunno. It's seems against the 'show don't tell' dictum of story writing.
April 19th, 2007 11:30am
And as far as Introductions are concerned I only read them afterwards. They usually try to "explain" the book - I want to read the book without any preconceptions.
April 19th, 2007 11:36am
Nabokov's "Prologue" wasn't called a Prologue was it? It might have been a Preface or an Introduction, but I don't think it was a Prologue.
April 19th, 2007 11:54am
Nevermind. I forgot how little I read. I guess Prologue is pretty standard issue in many novels of a certain genre. I still think it's an author's "I had nowhere else to stick this info" trick.
April 19th, 2007 12:00pm
Well, it can be.
Me, I wrote an extensive history for my world before I ever started writing the story itself, and I thought it would be amusing to take a few lines from my notes on the history of the world and write a full dramatic narrative of the event. So that's what I did.
The narrative offers some insight into the world in which the main story takes place, but isn't necessary to the story. It's sort of like bonus material on a DVD.
April 19th, 2007 12:02pm
I have skimmed through the book. Hope to review it more thoroughly later.
A short description of the where about, the time, the story context etc, would be very helpful to readers.
IN THE BOX
April 19th, 2007 12:05pm
Just do like Tolkien and make it a separate novel. Then spend the rest of your creative like revising it ad nauseoum because it doesn't quite gel with your magnum opus, thus depriving the world of any additional tales, which was probably a good thing, because I suspect he ran out of steam after the Lord of the Rings.
April 19th, 2007 12:07pm
IN THE BOX -
I'm working on a synopsis, but I admit that brevity is not my strength. :-)
April 19th, 2007 12:08pm
Labeling it "Prologue" is stupid if it is necessary, even in the slightest, for the enjoyment of the novel.
Stop trying to be all classical and label the damn thing "Chapter 1". WTF.
"Prologue" implies "optional".
Heck, why label it at all. Just start with the first paragraph and be done with it.
Un. Be. Lievable.
Is anyone going to explain how a prologue and epilogue are different? Because I feel like I'm taking crazy pills here.
April 19th, 2007 2:43pm
Prologue -- also Prolog --
From the Greek Pro == Before, Logos == Speech. This is the "before speech" given before a greek play, wherein the situation was explained directly to an audience.
In writing, this is an explanatory passage which lets the author write directly to the reader, setting up the situation for the story to follow.
From the Greek Epi == After, upon, behind; Logos == Speech. This is the "after speech", which can wrap up what happened to the characters after the actions of the story.
April 19th, 2007 3:12pm
The convention has evolved somewhat since the classical definitions were set, Allan.
April 19th, 2007 3:15pm
Jesus F Christ.
April 19th, 2007 3:17pm
Just name the damned thing "Naked pictures of Britney Spears" and get it over with already.
April 19th, 2007 4:19pm
muppet, what a unique opportunity. Play with it - change the name and watch the traffic. You have a baseline for "Prologue", now try some of the following and see what happens to the traffic for the whole site:
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 0
- Half-naked, exploding porpoises
- Optional (betcha traffic goes up on this one)
- Stay Tuned
- But who is Mugabe?
April 19th, 2007 8:57pm
Heh, if I weren't taking the project seriously, then that'd be a lot of fun.
April 19th, 2007 9:24pm
"But who is Mugabe?"
He's a gorilla this nappy headed chick was observing on the Discovery channel last night. I can say she was nappy headed, because she was white.
Gorillas are pretty cool.
Oh, oh yeah, prologues... I only read them if the expectation of the work is real high to begin with. If I don't know what I'm getting into then I just skip it.
So maybe you need a pre-prologue to stoke the flames of anticipation and make people want to read some foreshadowing.
That could be a smart-assed comment. Or, it could be real. If you take it is real, then I'd suggest an prologue title that served that purpose.
April 20th, 2007 6:11pm