Saturday, May 24, 2014

Skip the prologue? Really?

By: Ana Barrons

Congratulations to "Taurus", the winner in Ana's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

I was shocked the first time someone told me they "always skip the prologue" in a book. Skip the prologue? Really? That's like walking into the theater five minutes late, missing the beginning and spending the rest of the movie wondering you missed. I can't stand it! I'd rather skip the movie completely than walk in late. 

In Son of the Enemy, my prologue brings the reader into the formative event in Hannah Duncan's life. She's six years old, peeking under her parents' bed at her Christmas presents, when she hears the front door open and a man's voice downstairs. It's not her father. Then the door closes and her mother runs up the stairs and collapses on the bed, sobbing. Hannah is sad and confused, but afraid of being discovered.

Then the bedroom door opens…

“What are you doing in here?” Mommy sounded scared now. Tears welled up in Hannah’s eyes. She hated the man. Go away!
“It’s time,” he said. His voice sounded funny, like he was humming.
“No, please,” Mommy said. “Please. Just…go away.”
Hot tears ran down Hannah’s cheeks and her whole body shook. The man’s boots were so close she could smell the shoe polish. She wanted to stick her foot out and kick him, but she was afraid. She squeezed her eyes closed and tried to sing a song in her head.
London Bridge is falling down…
“What do you want?” Mommy’s voice was shivery.
“Oh, I think you know.”
“Okay,” Mommy says. “Okay. We’ll go to a…a hotel.”
“Where’s your little girl?”
Falling down…
“She’s at a friend’s house. Please, let’s just—”
“Then there won’t be anyone to disturb us.”
Falling down…
“No, I can’t…do that…in here,” Mommy said. Why couldn’t she catch her breath? “Please. I’ll come with you, I promise.”
“Why aren’t you wearing the ring?”
London Bridge is falling down…
“I’ll…I’ll get it,” Mommy said, and her feet moved away. She’s breathing so loud!
“It means you’re mine. In this lifetime and beyond.”
My fair lady…
Oh! The man was stumbling backward, like Mommy pushed him. Run, Mommy!
“You bitch!” the man shouted.
Hannah put her hands over her ears. Take the key and lock him up…
“I’m the one who loves you! Not your husband!”
“No! Get back!” Mommy shouted. “No!”
Lock him up, lock him up…
A wet, thudding sound, and Hannah’s ears started ringing, ringing.
“I love you!” the man yelled, so loud the ringing got worse.
Thud.
“I love you!”
Thud.
“I love you!”
The ringing in Hannah’s ears was so loud she couldn’t hear anything else. She scrunched her eyes shut as tight as she could and curled into a ball. She was shaking all over, and cold, like the coldest icicle in the North Pole. When she opened her eyes, everything was blurry, and Mommy was lying on the floor with her eyes open. The carpet around her was all red. The man’s boots were gone. A ring glittered just outside the ruffle, and Hannah reached for it.
Take the key and lock him up… 

We meet Hannah again twenty-three years later, when John Emerson comes to her door, claiming to be someone he is not. Unbeknownst to Hannah, he is the son of Hannah's mother's lover, the man who has spent the past twenty-three years in prison for her murder. The son of Hannah's worst enemy…

Giveaway: 
Do you always read the prologue to a novel, or do you skip it? Leave a comment and you'll be entered into a drawing for a free print or eBook copy of Son of Enemy!
—Ana


Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST May 25th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email maureen@justromanticsuspense.com with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.


30 comments:

  1. I cannot imagine skipping the prologue of any book. My experience is that it provides early, pivotal clues to the story. I always read the prologue.

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  2. I always read the prologue! Like you, I feel like it's walking into the movie after it started, and I'm missing something, if I don't read it.

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  3. Thanks for replying, Jonetta and Wendy. It really does boggle my mind when people say they skip them. I imagine the expectation is that the prologue will be unimportant, or boring.

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  4. I've heard that a lot of readers do this, too. And it is shocking. Writers write prologues for a reason! They give insight into characters and their past, offer invaluable information you'll need later, and begin the story. I personally love to write a short prologue if my stories need one, and I also love reading them. :)

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  5. I love reading them too, Chrys, and I think it's important that a prologue be short and only included if necessary. So far my books have all needed a prologue—otherwise I would leave it out .

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  6. I always read the prologue... I want to experience the book to its fullest... go along the character's journey from the first moment I meet them...

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  7. Yes, same here, Colleen. It's a way to bring the reader into the backstory as it's happening, rather than just telling them about it after the fact.

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  8. I don't always think prologues are necessary, but I do read them if the book has one.
    janie1215 AT excite DOT com

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  9. You're right, they're not always necessary. I wonder if the people who automatically skip them have been so turned off by reading overlong, dense prologues that they throw the baby out with the bath water, so to speak.

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    1. That could be it, Ana. I've also heard people just wanting to get into the story right away. Maybe they see the prologue as just filler.

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  10. Yeah, that's possible. I'm thinking about my own prologues now, and while it's true that whatever is revealed there comes out later in the book, without it the reader wouldn't experience its depth and importance. When you think about it, what's in the prologue is generally something that's super important to the story.

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  11. I always read it since I assume that it has meaning to the story.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

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  12. Unlike many readers, I love prologues that give the reader a peek into the past. So yeah, I read every word of a prologue.

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  13. I always read the prologue.

    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

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  14. I always read the prologue, makes it more interesting!!

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  15. always read it

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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  16. Congrats to Ana on the new new release! Like everyone else, I couldn't imagine skipping a prologue. It sets up the whole story! Thanks for sharing!

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  17. I have been known to skip the prologue, it depends on whether I am in a hurry for the main event.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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    1. Oh, wow, Mary, I was hoping I'd get someone from the other side to chime in. Would you be just as likely to skip the prologue when reading mystery/suspense as when you're reading other kinds of books?

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  18. Thank you, Erin! And thanks to the others of you who've commented. This is such an interesting discussion. I'd love to hear from someone who does skip prologues, just to get another point of view, but I'll bet romantic suspense and mainstream mystery/thriller fans are more likely to read prologues than other readers. What do you think?

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  19. I always read the prologue. I used to skip them until I was missing some pieces that would connect the story. I still skip the prefaces and prologues when it is a non-fiction book.

    kmccandle(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  20. Ah. See, I think that's the connection, Kai. A lot of us have been turned off by the prefaces and prologues of non-fiction books, and it carries over into fiction. But you can miss so much.

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  21. I love the prologue- never even crossed my mind to skip it!

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  22. You HAVE to read the prologue! That sets up the whole story. I can't imagine not reading it. If it wasn't important to the story, the author would not have put it in!

    shelleybp (at) live (dot) coma

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  23. Thanks for chiming in, Liz and Shelley. And thanks to all of you who've been a part of this conversation. I hope you'll visit me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ana.barrons or Twitter: @ana_barrons. Or visit my website at: www.anabarrons.com.

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  24. I read the whole book - front to back! I've never heard of anyone skipping the prologue.

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