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Prologues: Yea or Nay?

–Previously published on my personal blog–

Warning: This blog is being written in the No Edits Zone. Grammar and Spelling Nazis, proceed at your own risk!

After months spent fine-tuning the SFR (a cautionary tale in and of itself), I’m finally back to my Merlin Series. Gotta say, making the transition has been difficult. Worse, despite the multiple GH nods the first two Merlin manuscripts received, looking at them now makes me wince.

Why? Good question. I can’t put my finger on it, but I’m not a happy girl.

Part of it could be my writing style. I write without plan–a mode of operation commonly known as pantsing and not recommended to anyone unwilling to part with his or her sanity–and hammer blithely away, often following characters down strange paths or mysterious rabbit holes with no idea where they lead. It’s fun, exciting, and often wonderfully liberating, putting things in place that I don’t even know I’ll need until I get to the place where I do.

The perfect example is in TS&TS. Cal receives a box containing a book and a map. The book is unimportant to this story, and we had no idea what it was or why it showed up. Still, something said keep it, so it’s in there. Starting on book two, it hit me EXACTLY what it was, where it came from, and why it’s important. Love it when that happens.

Those moments are rare, however. What isn’t rare is the major pain in the gluteous maximus most people call editing. I wrote the book. I know the story. I want to move on and write the next one. But no. To publish, one must edit. And that’s where I am at the moment with The Seer, Book 1 of the Merlin’s Prophesy series.

Here’s the thing: There’s a fantasy element to the story (considering the series’ name, that should come as a shock to no one), and that element is revealed in small ways throughout. I’m not writing Swords and Sorcerers. I’m writing men and women caught in a web spun nearly a thousand years past.

Which brings us to the title of this post.

I’m thinking I need a prologue, else those elements would just stand out as odd rather than pertinent or revealing. My original idea was an epilogue with Merlin discussing what was yet to come, but my CP nixed that, claiming she’d found the inferences in the story distracting without a frame of reference.

Prologues have become unfashionable over the years, and if the characters knew of the prophesy, it wouldn’t be an issue, but they don’t. They are pawns in a game they don’t even know is being played. That leaves a prologue or scenes with Merlin observing and making comment. Not keen on the whole hovering specter/disembodied commentator idea, though, especially considering what needs be revealed. To my thinking, the action will come to a screeching halt for a bit of explanatory rumination.

Doesn’t sound like a good solution to me.

What do you think? I know I’ve provided few details, but the story is still in the–*groan*–editing/refining stages so things could change rather drastically between now and publication. Dashing reader expectations makes friends for no author.

How do you feel about prologues? Do you think they have a place? Or do they turn you off before you read page one?

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