A flash forward prologue the lightness project part two

Here is the second lesson from the lightness project mini-module! 

It follows directly from the idea of the "simple job" or "project." The suggestion is that you offer the reader a teaser or preview of where the story is going in a prologue.

A good prologue is about the future, not the past

Use your prologue as a taste of what's coming.

A good prologue is:

- short

- energetic and striking

- about the story to come

- not what has come before 

The challenge

Here is a challenge: imagine a cool scene from the middle or end of your story. Even better -- a scene that you haven't written yet but want to reach. Turn it in a one-page prologue for your story!

  • Sharon M Markatcheff says:

    Could you do this in a short story? Does it need a novel length story to work?

    • Sure! Might need to be even shorter – a few lines?

  • Charlotte Chrimes says:

    I’m curious – would you then still keep the “cool moment” scene in the novel in the place you originally had it? So repeat it? Or would you remove it and just hint at it in the narrative?

    • I would repeat it, I think! That’s what Boulley does in Firekeeper’s Daughter.

  • Steve Dennett says:

    This is extremely helpful. I’ve been struggling with where to start my novel, as it begins in the rather boring “normal world.” I tried a few prologues, but they didn’t feel right. This gave me the guidelines to write on the works!

  • Ralph from Chicago says:

    How would a prologue work in a detective story? [My detective is dressing to go on a motorcycle rally (her normal Saturday activity) and then gets a phone call or hears a news story about a murder that changes her plans.]

  • What should the form of the prologue be? How should it be structured? Does it in fact need to be structured in the way that a full scene should be structured, or can it just be a snippet of a scene with, for instance, no real ending? Is it better, for example, to use action or reflection? Or is this just totally open ended, depending on the book? Any guidelines on this?

    I have a snippet of a scene from the middle of my novel in mind, a scene that’s already drafted, but I wonder if this material would confuse readers due to its use of the institutional terminology inherent to the middle, but not to the opening movement, of this book.

  • Astrid Egger says:

    I have always avoided thinking about a prologue which may have had to do with my limited understanding of what it was. I saw it as a self-contained piece or world that somehow illuminated the story. Now this idea of a flash forward toward a significant scene or snippet in the book makes a lot of sense. If I understand this correctly, a prologue wouldn’t likely centre around the A-plot, or if A were alluded to, it wasn’t the main focus for the character in this particular segment. There are a few snippets that could audition for a prologue, and I am going to play with that idea to see which one was best.

  • Steve Dennett says:

    I like the flash forward idea, but after further consideration, have one question.

    In the body of the novel, when you reach to scene used for the prologue, what do you write? Do you use the same text as the prologue? Or perhaps write a new version of the scene? In either case I imagine you could fill in some details cut from the prologue to keep it tight.

    – Steve

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