35

That Star Wars crawl is affectatious nonsense. It is there for the same reason Harrison Ford's voice-overs were in the original cut of Blade Runner. They borrowed a stylistic element from Old Hollywood to signal to the audience the retro-inspired framing of the story. It is communicating information, but it's not an infodump. It's communicating style and ...


18

The thing about the Star Wars crawl sequences is they’re very short, less than 100 words. They work because they’re short, interesting and presented in a novel way (back then). They’re also necessary to provide context to the opening scene of action that follows. I would ask yourself the same questions. Is it absolutely necessary and essential for your ...


16

This is not only done, but is a staple of George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire - all books' prologues and epilogues have a one-time POV character that dies by the end of it. So yeah, it's perfectly acceptable.


15

The "subtitle problem" is an extremely common one in stories with multilingual characters, and there are a few different approaches. Here are three suggestions for how you can do it. In most cases, you would do something like, "What's the deal?" I asked, sliding easily into my native tongue. "Did the package come or not?" This ...


13

If there is such a huge time difference and there are no big temporal skips in the rest of the book this would likely be a good prologue. Because of the difference this would feel to the reader like something that is not directly related to the current story, but is important to understand for example the character's motivation. If it was a Chapter 1 the ...


12

A prologue is pro, before, the logos, word. It's text before the main body of the text. Whether a work needs a prologue is entirely up to the author. There is no right or wrong way to write one. There is no right or wrong content. It can serve as an introduction, a teaser, a flashback, background material, a recap, or anything else the author thinks might ...


10

If you read any Dan Brown books (Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons etc.), he generally writes a prologue where the main character (of the prologue) is actually the victim of the murder that the protagonist investigates throughout the rest of the book. There are many more authors than just J.K. Rowling who are accomplished and have managed this feat. That ...


10

It is not uncommon for fictional works to start with quotes from real or fictional personages. Dune, in particular, makes heavy use of this tool, starting every chapter with excerpts from fictional history books, written by one of the main characters, and providing commentary, and "additional sources", and additional perspective, to the narrative. However, ...


9

Firstly, I would say that if your prologue is 18k long, it is not a prologue it is your story in chief. Or it is a prequel to your story in chief. I think the problem with a lot of prologues is that they are a device of laziness. it is heaping a whole lot of information into the storyline without putting the effort into making it a part of the storyline. ...


9

Prologues are usually boring, because they are almost inevitably history lessons that have no suspense or action and they feel like a history lesson, right after lunch, and a snooze fest. You would be better off skipping it, and giving an actual origin story: Think, for example, of Spiderman. You start out in Peter Parker's normal world, before he is a ...


8

The part of a book that comes between the prologue and the epilogue is normally called "the story"! Ok, I take it you mean you have some explanatory material that you want to put in the middle, that is not part of the story itself? Perhaps "interlude" is what you are looking for.


8

As for anything else in a work, you must ask yourself: "what is this for?". Everything you put must be there for a reason. So what is the reason for a prologue? Why a prologue and not, for instance, a chapter 1? Why not spread the prologue info in your normal text? Why does my prologue need a separate identity in the narration flow? Only by answering these ...


8

If you think it would be a cheap trick, then don't do it. But it is an already somewhat estabilished tecnique - there are tons of books where the prologue has a different PoV from that of the main characters (I can recall a few at the moment: Perdido street station from Mieville, Eragon from Paolini, Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Weis and Hickman ... ). ...


8

I think you're making things hard on yourself. Is the book intended for people who speak English? Then the dialog should be in English. Readers routinely understand and accept that this is supposed to be a translation of whatever language the character would really speak. Every now and then, I read a story where the author puts in a lot of text in a foreign ...


7

Is it possible? sure. It is your novel, so structure it as you will. Is it wise? probably not. Prologues are theives which steal from their creators. They steal the backstory and motivations which defines who your characters are; leaving you, the author, with nothing except your characters' future actions to build your story with. It is very hard to ...


7

It is probably still a bad infodump, at least if you intend to sell the story to a traditional publisher. Because it is not immediate, we don't know who the main character is, and all the "action" is in the past and has nothing to do with the present. I have been told (by a real publisher) they he wants his MC up front, page 1, and they want them ...


6

I'll refrain from standard cautions about the advisability of prologues vs. weaving the back story into the main story and assume that you've definitely decided a prologue is the way to go. With that in mind: I think just having the first chunk labelled "Prologue" cues most readers that there's a time separation between Chapter One. Beyond that, I think ...


6

Usually a prologue is outside the main flow of the story in some way: Tease with an out-of-sequence scene. The prologue might tease us by previewing a pivotal scene that will occur later in the main storyline. Often this is a snippet of the climax. Give context through a different viewpoint. A prologue might put the story into a wider context by offering a ...


6

I agree with Lauren's answer: A prologue is anything before the main body of a text, and can be whatever the author wants it to be. What matters is that it reads well. However, in my experience, an introduction, preface, or forward is usually written in the writer's or editor's voice; prologues are usually (but not always) part of the novel's story. All ...


6

You often hear the catch phrase, "show, don't tell". There's value to that advice, but don't take it -- or most other advice about a creative effort -- as absolute. Don't break the rules just because you think it's cool and avant garde to break the rules. I've read lots of really bad novels whose goal was pretty obviously more "I'm going to write a story ...


6

It can, but there are other ways you might want to handle it. The risk of making a prologue a backstory is you might end up with an info dump. Sometimes they are useful, but take it too far and you risk alienating the reader. There is the iceberg method where most of what you create never appears in your work and only exists to colour and inform what you ...


5

Author's choice. +1 Secespitus for voicing my own thoughts. However, I will note that in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone; the first book in the series, Chapter 1 is set ten years before Chapter 2. Chapter 2 begins "Nearly ten years after [the events in Chapter 1] ...", and this is the only ten year skip in the story. To me yours sounds exactly the ...


5

A feature of modern SF and fantasy is that readers are expected to tolerate not knowing the details of the world at the start, and to pick up these details as they go along. Instead of an info-dump at the start, the relevant information is presented more naturally as the story unfolds. This requires the reader to be more active, and as a result this can ...


5

I don't think it's lazy, however they do irritate me. (Star Wars is the exception.) What if it's just that the author needs the context cordoned off somewhere in order to get their wind? If so, I have a potential solution. Hear me out.. One of my favorite books is The Rum Diary by Hunter S. It begins with an "info dump", to steal Mark's expression, and ...


5

I believe the opening you are looking for is called in medias res, latin for "into the middle of things". It starts with little or no explanation, as close to an action event as possible, if not during or just after. Characters are introduced already in action. Flashing back to fill in the story leading to the event is common, but not mandatory. It's ...


5

This has been touched on in other answers and comments, but I'd like to bring it out explicitly: You don't have to do anything. In fact, I'd argue you shouldn't do anything. It's a general understanding when reading English books that in any given scene, "English" is the stand-in for "language the POV character speaks and understands". ...


5

Because it's such a dramatic moment, it feels like a wasted opportunity to leave it entirely "off-camera." But it doesn't necessarily make sense to start your story there if the main action is going to take place after a gap in time. I'd suggest that you start your story right before the action begins, and then bring in the backstory as needed and ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible