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i'm writing a story and i want to write two prologues the first one when the MC was being born and then later on when the MC is around ten years old before starting the main story. can i do that?

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    Heh. So there are two sections I skip over to get to Chapter 1? Jul 21, 2017 at 12:59
  • Thanks this was all very helpfull information since i am a newbie to this kind of stuff i think my book sounds better now. Thank you all
    – screamer
    Jul 23, 2017 at 14:46
  • @screamer I'm glad the answers here helped you -- always good to hear! If one of them especially helped you, you can click the checkmark next to it to highlight it (and give its author an additional small reward). If you're having trouble choosing, it's also fine to not check one -- no pressure intended. Jul 23, 2017 at 19:25

3 Answers 3

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I am going to take a stab at this and say probably not. The whole point is to provide an introduction to the story. What you seem to want to do is introduction, second introduction, third introduction, main story. There are just too many things stacking on top of each other just to get to the main story.

The character being born is basically the prologue to the main story if you jump to when he is 10 after you are done sharing about what ever happens at birth. If you need to provide information that is IMPORTANT (key on importance because prologues by nature provide important information about the past that is NEEDED for the story) about his birth before he is born, you can always add it to the same prologue.

After you are done explaining about his birth, you should be able to jump right into "modern time" when he is 10 and start the story. If you want to explain about things that has happened to him between 0 and 10, do it as flash backs or recollections during key parts of the story while keeping other things a mystery until the right time.

What you want to avoid is providing a history lesson for people to read before the story even starts. It gets boring and people tend to skip forward if it goes on for too long. From the sounds of it, you are trying to shove all of your history into the first half of the book without even actually starting the book yet.

I would recommend breaking up the information and only using what is important within the context of the story. What I mean is if in the prologue, you write that his favorite food is a grilled cheese sandwich, then this grilled cheese sandwich also needs to play a role in the main story in some way. If it doesn't, it's pointless information to the story that doesn't need to be added. Do enough in the prologue to explain what is needed around the events of his birth and then get right to the story. Should any other need arise for bringing up the past or information not yet known, create a flashback or write it into the story.

In the end, you don't want to write 10 chapters just to introduce the main story and already be 100 pages into the book before even writing chapter 1. It's just too much. Chop it up and spread it out. Create 1 prologue that gives the basic needs and then let your narrator fill in the gaps as the story evolves.

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  • Although, as a counter-point, it has definitely been done and done well. Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey (and the accompanying film) is one of the most celebrated works of its genre, despite having what by any standard other than chapter numbering would have to be considered two prologues, which together total fourteen chapters. That said, as a work of its merit is exceptionally rare, and a work of its structure even more so, I have to agree that it's generally inadvisable.
    – Devsman
    Apr 28, 2021 at 21:06
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How would this be different from having chapter one by about their birth, chapter two be about them at 10, and chapter 3 start the main adventure? This is a perfectly normal progression for many novels.

A prolog, generally, is not simply an incident earlier in the career of the MC, it is in a different narrative voice altogether. If it is giving the historical background of the story, for instance, it is written like a history, not dramatized incident.

Prologs tend to be frowned upon, mostly because most of them are done badly and are a symptom of lazy writing. This is not to say that you can't do a prolog well, but any agent or editor seeing a book start with "Prolog" is likely to breath an inward sigh, and who needs to start with one point against them?

Gaps in time between chapters of a novel, on the other hand, are perfectly normal. One might even say they are essential, because most adventures, real or imaginary, involve a certain amount of waiting or transportation that does nothing to advance the plot. It should be skipped, and skipping it create a time gap. Your story has time gaps between birth and 10 and between 10 and adulthood. There is nothing unusual about that.

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I would be very cautious with this approach, especially the "birth prologue". In the birth scene, the protagonist isn't taking an active part in events. He or she has no agency, and will not even remember what happened. It contributes nothing to character development.

For example, consider Harry Potter. Important and dramatic events happen when Harry is a baby; but they take place "offstage". The truth of those events is gradually revealed to Harry, and to the reader, as the story progresses. This helps us empathise with Harry and moves the story forward.

Similarly, I would reconsider the scene at age 10. This could work, if it is strongly relevant to the plot. If Joe meets a mysterious stranger at the age of 10, who reappears when he is 25 and instigates an exciting series of events, that might be okay. If it's backstory, intended to explain why Joe learned to play the piano, leave it out or reveal the information through flashbacks and reminiscences.

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