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When Prologue is the Future, or Readers and Warnings

September 13, 2011
Posted at 1:45 pm

Got an interesting email yesterday, as I was in the middle of chapter 14 of The Waifs, and it brought up something worth commenting on:

"The way the prologue is written is either
suggestive of a tragic ending or misleading in its
failure to offer any hints in a direction other
than tragedy. (I don't count knowing that two
characters are going to survive, one of them with
a missing arm, as a hint in a direction away from
tragedy.) So my only hope of being satisfied with
how the story ends is that the tone of the
prologue is misleading in presenting negative
information without any significant positive
information to provide balance."

I honestly wonder how many readers, really, pay attention to the prologue. I wrote it specifically to warn away readers like this, to tell them, "Before we get started, here's where we're going. If it's not your thing, leave." Only one other reader has commented on it, taking a guess as to the fate of Don, and others clearly skipped it all together. It does have fewer views then chapter 1. The reader quoted above had been enjoying the story and characters up through chapter 13, but honestly didn't want to continue if things went where he feared. Fair enough.

It's just that he already knew the answer from the first page yet went on anyways that I find interesting. Mind you, I have occasionally done the same thing. Started a story with a premise I liked while ignoring an author warning, only to then stop reading in disgust when the author gets to the part he was warning about.

Humans are weird.