Prologue Anyone?

To prologue or not…

I imagine I’m not the only author to agonize over this point. Everything I read about the subject seems to suggest that a prologue is a bad idea. A prologue is like a false start ‘they’ say. It presents characters and situations that initially seem to have little to do with the plot. I agree.

The problem is, my book seems to cry for a prologue. No matter how often I tear it out and start again, chapter one is never REALLY chapter one. Grrr… my prologue is important, it really is. It sets up my entire series and is resolved in a dramatic way in the end of my first book.

Time to stop whining. I’ve decided to post the prose in question below in hopes of getting some feedback. Is it okay to start like this? Does it make you want to read more? These are the things I want to know!

The Fall

Ki carried the fracture as an ache in her bones. The splitting of the universe stuck into her skin like glassy shards. Centuries bled from the wound, while the small creatures caught within time’s flow struggled to find meaning among the broken pieces.

Now she sensed another tear, hungry and powerful. It reminded her of the first fracture. It was small, but it had begun to grow. The little ones would not know of it until it was too late. She couldn’t fix the past, but she could try to preserve what still remained.

Ki jettisoned steam from her nostrils and allowed her body to become as insubstantial as mist. Heading towards the South Pole, she floated through a sky darkened by the red light of a bloated and dying sun. Ki sang her need into the wind as she flew, calling for the strength of her brother to aid her.

The air grew cold. Deathly fingers reached up from the black frothy ocean and set fishhooks into her flesh. Ki shuddered and turned to her fire element. Her body flared and cast tongues of flames back at the ocean. She raised her wings and swam higher through the air, closer to the pitiful heat of the dying sun.

Her brother would come swiftly when he heard the song. Together they’d stitch the tear shut, using their blood, singing praises to the Starbreather who leant strength to the world even still.

Mountains of blue ice climbed from the ocean and built a wall towards the sky. Ki flew over the wall, tasting the edges of the atmosphere. Her fire winked out, her scales turning to starlit mirrors of ice. She folded her wings and dropped into the heart of nothingness.

A man stood upon a shelf of ice, waiting for her.

He touched her wing as she passed, stealing from her the power of flight. He infected her with the nothingness contained within his ragged form and Ki fell crippled to the ice.

She blew fire through her nostrils, her eyes reddened with pain.

The man walked where no man could walk, upon a world where humans had not been for centuries. Ki spurned the fear in her heart and grinned an ivory warning.

“Careful, human. I am a Priestess of the Starbreather and guardian of this world. I will not allow your evil to spread.”

Her voice echoed to the ocean floor and split the ice. She beat her good wing, calling the maelstrom. The sun fell beyond the wall and drenched the ice in ghostly purple. Ki sent fire into the wind, singing a creation song to battle the nothingness.

“I do not care for your god,” said the man, his reply like withered leaves. “I came here for you.”

Creatures of filth crawled from the cracks in the ice. They sprang upon Ki in wicked delight, unafraid of her fire or her talons. Ki roared and caught some, tearing them apart, the taste of their flesh like poison in her mouth.

More came, bearing iron clubs and chains. Ki broke them and spread the bloody pieces across the ice. For every ten she destroyed, another fifty attacked. She fought on in desperation, longing for the freedom of the sky.

“You are the strong one,” said the man. “With you bound, you brother will be taken swiftly.”

Ki trembled with rage as they pulled her down and shut her mouth with chains. The twisted creatures jeered and spat on her, their very presence an unnatural blight upon the world.

The man’s perverse smile betrayed his madness. “Without the Elementals to fight for it” he said, “this world cannot stand against me.”

The man struck Ki between the eyes with an iron rod and the strength of his hatred.

“I will destroy everything that you love,” he said.

Ki bled and faded; remembering her fear as she fell.

…Dun, dun, duuuun!


About cjgosling

I paint, I sing, I walk in the rain. I'm clumsy and I love the smell of campfire. My head is full of imaginary things and the only thing I ever really want to do in life is write. My first book "Shadowlands: The Guardian" was released in Feb. 2011. The sequel is coming in 2012! View all posts by cjgosling

4 responses to “Prologue Anyone?

  • Nick Daniels

    Good job, I love your prose. It took me a while, almost a second reading to get a sense of where the action was taking place and what kind of creature was Ki. Advice: give the reader a place and a character to follow from the start. How can you let us know that this is a dragon (is it?) flying through the sky at night from the first paragraph? Once we know where we are and who's there, we can pay attention to the fracture and the thoughts and the universe. You know what I mean?Prologues are okay, just don't call them that.

  • Jordan

    I think that a good prologue is perfectly fine! and can really add something. I think it's not so much about a rule as it is about your intent as an author. The best prologue I recall reading (and the one that sticks in memory) is from George RR Martin's "A Game of Thrones". It really set quite a bit of interest and excitement for what was to follow, and gave it a bit of external framework/mystery/mythos to surround the "mundane" and political/other stuff that was happening early on. I like your "prologue" up there. It makes me curious to know what's happening! And in reading it I also expect to find out much later, but not right away.. it will unfold as it should 😉

  • Russel

    I love it! Fantastic, I feel like i am in a theatre while I read it, so absorbing I miss my mouth with the popcorn and spill pepsi on my lap. Great job!

  • Anonymous

    I have no idea if you're still agonizing about keeping this in or not, loads of time has passed, but as a writer myself I would suggest leaving it in. It gives the reader something to look forward to, and also a feeling of excitement wondering just how this opening of fantasy will eventually connect with Tavin.Good luck

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