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Bookending your start - The prologue

Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, May 7, 2021
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If you’re looking to open your comic by establishing the scene, theme and/or tone of the rest of the narrative then you might consider using “the prologue”. Derived from the Greek term, prologos, meaning, “before word”, the prologue serves as a mini story that is set before the main narrative unfolds. However, it still relates to the overall events in some way, often tying into events later on.

The beauty of the prologue is that it can take place any time before the story takes place be it days, months, years or even a century ago, provided the events in this minisode directly impact what is going to happen in the future, adding much needed context. If your main story can be told without a prologue then it may be best to skip it altogether.

Keep the prologue short. Then intention should be to set up the context of how and why the events will unfold. If your prologue is too long, maybe you need to write a prequel rather than tack it onto the front of your comic. The prologue is the trigger. So fire it quick.

As the prologue is a snapshot of a pivotal event prior to the main narrative it should focus on the relevant action or details. This is the opener to your story, so it needs to be attention grabbing. Avoid lengthy exposition or infodumps at this stage. If you must include some lore or world building, try and weave it into an event. By doing this you’re keeping the reader interested and the prologue essential to the rest of the story.

Do you have a prologue in your comic? Do you think comics should have prologues?
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anonymous?

bravo1102 at 11:47AM, May 7, 2021

Prolonged are for the most part unnecessary. Just work what you woykx put in the prologue into the main narrative. Have the girl be killed by the vampire. Sets mood and theme, but have the characters be involved in finding the body, or discussing the killing so the action grows directly put of that prologue. Too many fall in love with their prologue and it becomes a subplot when it's just to establish something in the story outside the main narrative that will matter later. But you can just as well work that into the main narrative and do away with the prologue.

theRedDeath at 10:52AM, May 7, 2021

The entire first arc of my comic, which is still going on, is basically just one big prologue. It's supposed to be a big "hit the ground running" sort of thing, and to that end I think I succeeded, but it definitely has not been short.

Banes at 10:41AM, May 7, 2021

Good stuff! And of course, the prologue could also take place AFTER the story is over, and still serve the function of setting up the tone and theme and all that.

marcorossi at 3:52AM, May 7, 2021

Years ago I bought a manual by an italian professional comic writer, and he gave this as an example of the use of prologue (in the horror series he was working for, a monster of the month format): suppose that we want to tell a story about vampires, however in our story the protagonists will take some time to meet the vampires because, like in many horror stories, it takes time to build the climax. Then we have a prologue where a random young lady is walking in the night and is assaulted by sometihing dark and AAARGH! and cut - and then the story starts from our normal characters in their normal world. It seems to me that this is a good example of the purpose of the prologue: to set the theme and the expectations for the story at the beginning when the main elements of the story have to happen much later.


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