In my recent post about prologues I gave a short list of things that I felt a prologue could do for a story. However, I also added that my list wasn’t exhaustive and asked you (dear reader) to let me know if you came across any others I could add.
Fortunately, someone was paying attention and not only thought about it, but went to the trouble of telling me. In the unlikely event that you have not encountered the… (what’s the adjective I’m looking for?) …unique (that’ll do it) …talent (another suitably ambiguous word) …that is Tara Sparling, please do make the effort to go and visit her blog. To be fair, you may never come out again, but the experience will be well worth it.
Anyway, Tara kindly pointed out the following:
Another good reason to have a prologue – or so I’ve been told – is because you’re using a POV which doesn’t appear in the rest of the book, or at most once or twice more. For example, the killer in a crime procedural.
I’d like to elaborate on that, because point of view can be interpreted in different ways. The obvious way to write from a character’s point of view is to do it in the first person.
There’s been an increasing trend in recent years for stories to be told in the first person by different characters. James Patterson is probably the most high profile author to do this. I’ve got to be honest: it’s not a style I’m particularly fond of. To me, a first person narrative should be from the same person, otherwise the book should be written in the third person. But who am I to judge? I’m the writer with only one book out there earning next to nothing, and he’s the one with millions of dollars in the bank (or is it billions now?), and a team of monkeys with typewriters. Not that I feel in any way bitter about this…
Anyway, taking my own prejudices out of the picture, it can be very effective to have a particular character appear in the prologue and for the reader to see something from their perspective. In a sense, they fall into the significant character box, but not in the same way as the Simon Templar example. Especially as they may not appear until much later in the book. Or maybe they do, but you just don’t know it, and you’re left guessing who it was.
Funnily enough, it occurred to me as I wrote the last sentence that I’ve done exactly that in Ravens Gathering. It’s funny how the obvious passes you by. Bearing in mind my earlier comments, though, it should come as no surprise to know it was written in the third person.
Anyway, we now have four things a prologue can do for your story. Does anyone have any other suggestions?