07 February 2008

Flashback versus Prologue

HI Martha!

I've been reading all the information available on Flashback and why it may not be the recommended route to begin a novel. Then I suddenly realized, by golly, this isn't a flashback, it's a prologue! My story starts back in history to provide a backdrop for the current story. My question ... how to you plot a prologue when it's the first "scene" in your book? Is it a chapter unto itself called Prologue? Can it be scene 1 in Chapter 1?

Thanks so very much!

Writing in North Carolina,

Dear Nancy,

The Prologue is a chapter unto itself, comes first, and is generally very short -- 2 to 3 pages. Chapter One follows the Prologue.

Or, you could make it scene 1 in Chapter 1.

The pros of one are the cons of the other, and visa versa.

For instance, readers sometimes ignore the Prologue. Changes in time right off the bat can confuse readers.

Best way to plot this first "scene", be it the Prologue or Chapter One is to make sure the scene introduces one or more of the three major plot lines -- dramatic action, character emotional development, or most likely, provide thematic significance and foreshadow what is to come.

I'll put out a request to some of my writer friends for more input and their take on the issue.

Hope this helps.

Great good luck with your project. Let me know how it goes.