|Annapolis, MD - Photo Credit - Jan Bowman - 2013|
So after a brief Q&A session between my reader-self and my writer-self, I realize I need to come up with some kind of justification for having a prologue, because I believe that unless you're writing the kind of soaring novel, that must give opening background so a reader has a place to stand, or unless you're writing an oddly formatted play that requires one so the audience can get aboard from the start, or unless you're Shakespeare or his sister, a prologue does more harm than good.
|Annapolis, MD - Photo Credit - Jan Bowman|
Sometimes a prologue serves as a hook to draw readers into the story. Most prologues provide backstory, some of which is not necessary, useful or effective. Excess is distracting. In fact, I suspect that giving readers prologue information before they've met the characters and conflict, flies right past most readers who have not yet gathered enough of the story threads to make use of the information. In general, I think a prologue is not useful because the purpose is to offer information that could be better woven throughout a story.
So now I'm left with deciding what to do about my little story that has a prologue, sprouting like unsightly facial hair from its chin and I need to decide whether to (a) get rid of it and tweak the opening paragraphs of my story more carefully, (b) condense the existing prologue to one 'threadbare sentence' - a challenging task when dealing with a sentence from Charles Dickens, (c) rethink it, get rid of it, and forget I ever considered it, (d) disconnect it from all things Dickens, and/or revise it so that it is really short, has a hook and 'only' connects.
|Photo Credit - Jan Bowman - Bay View - August 2013|
About Jan Bowman
Jan Bowman’s fiction has appeared in numerous publications including, Roanoke Review, Big Muddy, The Broadkill Review, Third Wednesday, Minimus, Buffalo Spree (97), Folio, The Potomac Review, Musings, Potato Eyes and others. Glimmer Train named a recent story as Honorable Mention in the November 2012 Short Story Awards for New Writers. Winner of the 2011 Roanoke Review Fiction Award, her stories have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, Best American Short Stories, a Pen/O’Henry award and a recent story was a finalist in the 2013 Phoebe Fiction Contest; another was a 2012 finalist in the “So To Speak” Fiction Contest. She is working on two collections of short stories while shopping for a publisher for a completed story collection. She has nonfiction publications in Trajectory and Pen-in-Hand. She writes a weekly blog of “Reflections” on the writing life and posts regular interviews with writers and publishers. Learn more at www.janbowmanwriter.com orvisit blog: http://janbowmanwriter.blogspot.com