In this episode, Leslie and guest host Jody T. Morse critique the prologue of Forgotten December, an as yet unpublished steampunk novel by Noah Deuker.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.
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!
Do you want editorial missions sent directly to your inbox?
Sign up to join us aboard the Writership Podcast! We'll send new episodes directly to your inbox so you'll never miss a show or an editorial mission. You'll also get the lowdown on our top 12 writing, editing, and self-publishing podcasts—perfect if you, like us, want to live a fulfilling life as a writer.