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I'm in the process of writing my prologue for my book, but it's going to also introduce the main characters. Long story short, the main Character, Devoss, goes into a magical forest to prove himself, and prove he can sword fight, even tho he can't. His best friend, Conway, and his rival, Iseli, are both introduced, and it shows how Conway feels about Devoss. It says:

"There's plenty to say about Devoss Croizin, but the fact he's barbaric and obsessive is just the tip of the iceberg. Never mind the fact he's also scornful, demanding, and deceitful, but fortunately, they're balanced out slightly by being fun-loving as well. Not to mention his natural-born cruelty, much to the annoyance of others. But when it's just us, he’s different. He’s open and witty if you look for it, and all considered it could be much worse. He could be a cold blood murderer.”

I also need help rewriting this, but that's for a different day. How do I show how Iseli feels, without making it repetitive, or boring down the prologue?

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    That's less a prologue and more "blurb on the back of the book."
    – JRE
    Nov 23, 2021 at 15:45
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    There are like 3 questions here, something about prolog vs chapter, then there is a writing example for criticism, then you ask us what to write to 'not be boring'…. Please ask 1 question at a time. There are already too many red flags (why a prolog if you are straight to the action, that is Chapter One), The narrator delivers a stream of contradictions (He's a terrible person, but fun to be around, He's one way, except when he isn't. How is the reader suppose to feel? At least you are not dead….) 1 idea at a time, please. Use an outline, so information can build and progress.
    – wetcircuit
    Nov 23, 2021 at 16:06
  • If this is a dialogue, what people say can be true or false. Have the character's controversial traits debated between the friend and the rival. If they argue (and how much) it reveals the validity of the statement. Agreement between friend and foe is like stating a fact.
    – DWKraus
    Nov 29, 2021 at 18:13

2 Answers 2

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This is a paragraph telling us how one character feels about the other. Convert it into something showing that instead, and everything else will fall into place. Namely, set up a situation with your MC and have everyone else there react to it. If you can't fit all the information in one event, make another, maybe a little into the story. I would try to avoid internal monologues like in your paragraph unless you really can't find a better alternative.

For example, take "his natural-born cruelty" and give the MC an opportunity to show that he's naturally cruel. Maybe in your story, he kills a butterfly as he's walking into the forest. Does he say or do something when he's doing it that ties into another one of the traits you mentioned? (Obsessive: he chases the butterfly down. Deceitful: he tries to hide what he's doing. Fun loving: he explains how it can be a game.) And with what method does he kill it? You can use that to show another one of his traits, such as his clumsy sword skills.

Your other characters are there, reacting based on how they feel about your MC. Show what they do and say. Maybe they both feel annoyed at this behavior, but that just means you need to drill down and really differentiate on the difference their relationships make. For example, the rival may be annoyed and try to one-up the MC. The friend may be annoyed and talk out loud about how this must be the thousandth time he's done this (which says that they're old friends who've been through a lot together).

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  • Great answer! Convert the impression into a sequence of events… That should help to force the narrator's focus to thing that is happening right now.
    – wetcircuit
    Nov 23, 2021 at 17:31
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The big question is the difference between a prologue and chapter 1. Let's say your book takes place over a few weeks, and a chapter is roughly a day. Roughly -- some days span several chapters, some chapters span several days, but roughly. You want us to know something that happened 5 years ago. Or your book spans years, with each chapter a month or so, and you want to show something from 20 years before, or 200. So either you put that in a prologue, or (if you want to reveal it later) you add a flashback or some extensive dialogue in which we come to learn about it. Prologues like this tend to look like this:

  • a small child interacts with an adult, perhaps a parent, perhaps a teacher. The child shares their dreams with the adult and is encouraged or belittled. Or the adult tries to teach the child something and the child's internal monologue reveals their dreams, often quite different from what the adult wants. This teaches us the struggle our protagonist is undergoing when the book starts.
  • a person lives a nice kind of life - happy in a peaceful village, a happy family, a fulfilling job. (Little do they know it's all going to disappear. The book picks up much later with all of that gone.)
  • a government official or a soldier some other authority has a conversation with someone about a problem and how it's going to be dealt with. (This sets up the situation the book people all have to deal with, like there is a war or they have been conquered or there are laws there didn't use to be.)
  • someone makes a prediction, or hides a magic weapon, or curses all the descendants of one person, or founds a religion. This lets you provide slightly mysterious backstory and history.

The gap of time between the prologue and chapter 1 should be significant. Years, decades, even centuries. If the book starts Tuesday, a prologue set on Monday is not a prologue.

So, how did the rivalry between D & I start? A prologue set in their childhood might cover that incident. As part of it, the friendship between D and C would also be covered, along with action and dialog that shows us D's personality. How did each of them come to live where they do? Were they all born there, or did one arrive later? Why? How did that go? You could even close the prologue with a prediction like someone saying of D "he's the kind of kid who could grow up to be a murderer!" and another saying "or Prime Minister!" and the two of them laughing. Now we have context for what the adult characters do and say and how they interact.

The paragraph in your question isn't a prologue. Possibly, possibly it could belong in a letter from one character to another -- but it often is hard to believe that teens or your adults or peasant villagers or whatnot would write crisply and well in letters and notes and diaries. Those tend to be ramblier and not to summarize things well. So why not write a prologue set years before the story begins that tells you who the main players are, how they feel about each other (with a glimpse of why) and a bit about what they are like? Have D be cruel, but then witty and fun loving. Set it up. The cool thing about a prologue is you don't have to wrap it up. Just leave off, and then pick up again when the book really starts.

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