Episode 96: Forgotten December: Steampunk Critique


In this episode, Leslie and guest host Jody T. Morse critique the prologue of Forgotten December, an as yet unpublished steampunk novel by Noah Deuker. They discuss the elements of an effective prologue and description of characters and setting.

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Show Notes

Prologues are often filled with set up, backstory, and infodumping because we’re still processing information in our heads. We know we need that information at some point, but most of the time we don’t need to let readers know that information before the story even starts. Using what we learn from the prologue enables us to craft a better story and lay the hints and groundwork that will hook a reader and make them ready for us to spill the beans.
— Janice Hardy


Editorial Mission—Prologues

Subject your prologue to the PUNCH BAR:

  • P is for Purpose: Do you have a specific, story-related purpose for including a prologue?
  • U is for Urgent: Does the reader need the information right away? (Or can it wait?)
  • N is for Necessary: Can this be presented some other way to greater effect? (For example, could you include this in a flashback? A found letter? A character sharing information?)
  • C is for Consistent: Is it consistent with the rest of the story? 
  • H is for Hook: Have you grabbed the reader? (Compelling element, breadcrumbs, and promise of conflict?)
  • B is for Brief: Is it as brief as possible to achieve your purpose?
  • A is for Avoided: Have you avoided excessive backstory?
  • R is for Related: Is it directly related to the main story?

PUNCH BAR is a mnemonic device I created (quickly!) to describe the elements of a prologue that works. If you have a better suggestion, I’d love to hear it!


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Inline Critique