Sunday, February 5, 2012

On Prologues and Patriots

While watching (no joke) five hours of Super Bowl pregame coverage today, I have been catching up on blog posts and read this one on prologues from David Powers King.  I liked his take on it- he likes good prologues and raises a great point about many first chapters really being long prologues in disguise.  I am interested in this because AN UNEXPECTED KINGDOM has a prologue and I love it.  I would have an incredibly difficult time cutting it if ever asked to and I think it makes the story so much stronger.  It's not an infodump and it allows me to introduce a really integral background feature, a fairytale written by Ava' grandpa.

And since my game is getting close and I have no time to compose a brilliant, thoughtful, deep, and effortlessly witty post, I am just going to share my prologue.  I hope you find it intriguing.  GO PATS!!

Arthur Knight read the same very short story to his daughter nearly every night until she was twelve.  Although they both had long committed the words to memory, he always read straight from the pages.  The handwritten prose and drawings were done in his father’s hand and to see them brought on a thousand different memories that Arthur hoped never to forget.  His father had not lived to see his granddaughter but she had grown to love him through this story. 
Arthur found the grey cloth-bound book in a box of his father’s things just before his daughter’s first birthday.  He had not recognized the tiny book, he was certain he had not seen it before, but the identity of the author was immediately clear.  The back of title page was inscribed “For A” in his father’s distinct handwriting and Arthur imagined his father had written it for him, but for one reason or another had never gotten around to sharing it.  His daughter Ava listened to the familiar story and imagined that her grandfather had somehow written it for her.
The Warrior Princess
Long enough ago that time has lost the names of places and folk,
a Kingdom sat high on a mountain before a valley.
Peace had come easily to the Kingdom and lasted long enough
to make the King complacent and forgetful.
Many years earlier, when he was a young Prince,
the King had offended the ruler of a neighboring land.
That ruler had a long memory and he waited,
biding his time for the day he would seek his revenge.
In the passing years, the King had six sons
on whom he doted, making them fat and lazy.
His youngest child was a daughter, but the King had little use for girls,
and the Princess was left to herself.
Unlike her brothers, the Princess thirsted for knowledge
and could never sit idle.
She spent her days learning the long history of her Kingdom
and playing with the palace guards.
When at last the offended neighbor attacked,
war found the Kingdom unprepared.
With no strong leader to rally them,
the palace guard were quickly outmatched.
High in a tower, the King and his sons
looked down upon the slain guards and prayed for salvation.
The people of the Kingdom ran from their burning homes
to the palace crying, “Who will help us?”.
Far below the tower where her father and brothers hid,
 the Princess stood alone holding a sword.
She was very afraid of the invading force,
but she was more frightened of having her people enslaved.
In her strongest voice, which was still quite small,
the Princess proclaimed, “I will”.
Her bravery called to the long ago gods of her people
and they imbued her with their power.
And lo down the mountain she ran, bathed in a fierce violet light,
and headed into battle.
When she reached the valley the enemy lay slain
and her people were free.

So, what do you think about prologues?


  1. I don't mind prologues. When done well, they add a little extra humph, to the story. Yours is sooo lovely. there's something very whimsical about not just the story Ava's grandpa wrote for her.. but your style of writing too.

    also, there's something to the connection between Ava and her father, who reads that same story night after night.. I love that!

  2. That princess story rocks! And if I may (and please don't hate me for this), I think your warrior princess story IS the prologue. The two paragraphs leading up to it doesn't necessarily have to be there if this fictional(?) story has a place (or more involvement) later on. For now, it reads like your leading up to the story, explaining the origins of the story before you show it to us, when it really was the story part that has hook appeal.

    This is just a subjective opinion from a picky prologue person. You don't have to take my word for it if you don't agree. :)

  3. You know how I feel about your prologue. I love the set up and you really SHINE when it comes to old school fairy tale story telling. LOVE IT!!

  4. Cristina: Thank you, I'm happy that you like it. You are lovely.
    David: That is a really interesting thought and I'm going to think really seriously about that edit. Thank you for your honest and valuable opinion.
    Jenny: You are the best. Thank you. I heart fairy tales.

  5. I love the prologue (even though I read again and again that they are the death knell for publication). Just don't understand that line of thinking!

  6. Hi Megan, I gave you an award over at my blog (and for the record, I do like prologues).


I love to get comments! Please keep them PG as I am writing for kids and young adults and hope some of them will find their way here.