Take the 2-minute tour ×
Writers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for authors, editors, reviewers, professional writers, and aspiring writers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

As a prologue, is one intrigued to read on and want to know about this character? Critique is welcome:

Coran had always considered himself unsuccessful, at life and other things, like perhaps billiards. In all his years, all bleak twenty two of them, he had never once won a competition, successfully charmed a beautiful women or done anything worthy of being called brave or gallant. Coran was as utterly plain as they come, but he was… a cautious man, that was one thing that could be said for him, but his caution came with all the metal of a sheepherder. It was not that sheepherders were weak and cowardly or anything, but he imagined all they ever needed to stand up to were annoyed sheep and perhaps the occasional wolf. Wait… wolves were really scary; maybe his metal was even duller than the title forgave.

In his caution he had been wary of the merchant, but logic had demanded he invest in a sturdy coat and strong pair of snow boots, but most of all he gave credit for the black woolen scarf he had currently rapped in engagement to his face; and to think he had almost stopped himself buying it - woa be the folly. The thing was a true lifesaver, bearing a single warmth, that was his only real companion in this freezing cold land. Perhaps buying it had been the one smart thing he’d done lately. He had never before attempted the journey to Arthas, but he’d heard it said the mountain heights and snowy plains could wear a man down and quickly steal his hope, leaving him distraught in wet and treacherous colds that shifted with the winter climate to abominably low degrees.

He was quickly realizing he had been a fool to attempt the journey alone and on foot at that - woa be the folly once again. Only the local people who had developed natural resistances to the cold were said to survive there without hardship. The merchant had been a shrewd fellow and even though his purse was all but empty now - save the one gold coin that remained, he was glad of the warmth obtained - sure his boots were filled with snow, but so would any pair he reckoned, what with all the walking he’d done.

The reason for this journey as all his previous journeys had been, was to seek his fortune or more realistically find himself apprenticed in a good line of work. Although he may have little skills to offer there was one good talent that remained. Very few might consider it useful however. He had the gift of smell. His ability to tell who was evil or who was good upon first meeting them was much like a dogs. Evil had a distinct scent, one completely different in every way from a Good scent. Though the smell of average nosed people, he knew, could hardly make the distinction. Most merchants were somewhere in between like the one he had acquired his goods from, however being good or evil didn’t seem to stop them from robbing you blind.

He had been pondering many nights in wonder of how this skill could help him in life. How to use it too achieve some degree of success or just earn him a full purse of coin. He could smell all sorts of larger animals from far off, as well or probably even better than they could him, unless he was of course bleeding, that would change the playing field quite a bit. Most animals could smell blood miles off. His smell was almost more than a smell, perhaps a sixth sense, if needed it could even help him tell lies from truth. Coran’s smell had kept him safe from coming into contact with dangerous beasts and vicious creatures on his journey thus far. However the conclusion he had come to on how it could be useful was to somehow meet the Lord or Lady that ruled in the area and once in their custody he could help them discover what kind of threats they faced among criminals and the like. Only problem with the whole idea was that first he needed them to believe him. He would actually need to find some way to prove his ability; but even before that, there was the small matter of gaining an audience.

Continually trudging through the snow was beginning to wear him down, he slowly began to realize the heavy fatigue accumulating in his legs. Before it had gone unnoticed due to the sheer numbing cold, but in its current magnitude could scarcely go undetected. He hoped he was close to the town; his last gold coin would earn him a warm night in the tavern and hopefully some ale and a good meal.

He walked on further and further, perhaps for hour’s he couldn’t be sure, because as he walked the surrounding light remained the same not growing or dimming. Lethargy began to take its toll and sleepiness crept its way through him. Yawning he slapped himself hard through the face realizing what that would mean. He wasn’t ashamed of his stamina, but this was unlike any test he had faced before. There was a dire need to find shelter, and fast.

Coran walked perhaps another hundred yards, and then promptly collapsed, feinting in the snow. Awaking perhaps only moments later, he attempted to rise, but all energy withered through him like salt through a sieve. He lay there just thinking about everything for a moment, considering the life he had lead. To his last day he wouldn’t make an impact in society, ironic how he had known all along and in his desperate need to challenge it, screwed himself into the ground. At least the snow would swallow him up and nobody would ever be troubled by his passing. This stupid voyage, damn it why did I ever… he thought to himself before thoughts themselves were becoming a burden.

The snow was not one to discriminate, she cradled all manner of men and women in her arms and molded out their forms in specially made beds, accompanying them in the only way she knew how. Coran felt her warm embrace as he sunk deeper inside her. Snow was supposedly cold but he felt her warmth surround him now as strong emotion filled him ladled with the blossoms of cool serenity. Suddenly the burning whip of irony cracked again, sharp and unforgiving, and he realized. He would fall asleep before the only beautiful women he had ever successfully charmed into bed with him.

His last thoughts ceased and sleep stole him, then death began its processive march, having marked out its newest victim. The wind blew and the snow clutched him tighter against her bosom, encompassing him more and more with his every slowing breath, and as she did the final seconds on Coran’s life began to melt away.

share|improve this question
This is currently too vague and opinion based. If you have specific aspects of your writing you would like reviewed please edit the question. –  James Mar 6 at 19:27
I asked does it grip the reader, is one intrigued to read on. I'm sorry I'm knew to this site and did not know it would be to vague a question. I know this is opinion based, but not sure how else to ask the question. Any grammatical or errors I'm making with the English language usage would be appreciated if pointed out. –  Samuel Mar 6 at 19:35
@Samuel - Welcome to the site, and thanks for posting. Until you can provide a little more in the way of what you're looking for, I'm going to protect this question. (That only prevents answers by very new users who may not be familiar with the site.) What are your specific concerns about the prologue, aside from whether it works well in context? For example, maybe you could tell us what the tone is that you want to achieve, and what kind of text will follow the prologue. –  Neil Fein Mar 6 at 21:05
In addition to what @NeilFein said, if you want detailed guidelines to edit your question, have a look here: meta.writers.stackexchange.com/questions/166/… –  Pravesh Parekh Mar 6 at 21:24
Give us information like what you want to do by this prologue. What kind of mood do you wish to create in your readers? Getting to know your intention or goal would help us in giving a more constructive review. Otherwise, of course follow what James says. –  Pravesh Parekh Mar 6 at 21:26

1 Answer 1

On the question: is one intrigued to read on?

In fantasy I find that prologues are used, more often than not, to give the reader a taste of the action before the story begins. Perhaps detailing a battle, or the death of a god. In these cases prologues are relatively short and very punchy. They need to "hook" the reader so that when they hit the true start of the story, which is often unavoidably plodding, they're already invested. (Read the first book of Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archives series for a great example of this.)

Your prologue is very passive, contemplative. Rather than pulling the reader into the moment it is focused on the lose thoughts of the character. I fear that this would do the opposite of what you intended; we can learn about the character as the story develops, for the prologue we're interested in what's happening to the character.

For a start, if you scrapped the first paragraph, you'd immediately set the beginning with a sense of tone, a sense of the now:

In his caution he had been wary of the merchant, but logic had demanded he invest in a sturdy coat and strong pair of snow boots, but most of all he gave credit...

From this we now get a sense of the setting. We know it's very cold, we know he needed this gear, we know it cost him more than he could probably afford, we know he's going somewhere... We want to know where, and why.

From that, we want to read on.

share|improve this answer
Thx the advice has been helpful. although as to what Clockework said - if i did remove first para, I feel I'd remove from the ending of the prologue -the snow his first lover, it would lose feeling+emotional reaction. Intention is to introduce another character who finds this one wounded and they relate and it becomes a romantic fantasy type book where they split up and meet up again later 'our prologue protagonist will meet up with a new interim protagonist so to speak then the interim one will dissapear and later be "saved" as our prologue protagonist becomes "stronger as a person". –  Samuel Mar 10 at 14:59
My intention is basicly to create a emotional connection between character and reader which later can be built upon. –  Samuel Mar 10 at 15:01
In that case, simply swap the position of the first and second paragraph :) The key to a prologue is the hook, and the first paragraph doesn't hook, even if it is key for what you're trying to do later. I've heard it said, and I tell everyone; many (perhaps even most) publishers will read only the first few lines to a paragraph of a submission before deciding to read on. If they aren't hooked in, they'll trash the submission without continuing. –  CLockeWork Mar 11 at 9:07
I'm personally of the opinion that prologues are mostly unnecessary. Works such as Lord Of The Rings are such that a prologue might often be fascinating to the reader, granting more insight into the fascinating world, but for most stories, often the best way of developing your characters and intriguing your readers is by simply telling the story and unravelling the character throughout it. –  Nick Bedford Nov 6 at 6:46
@NickBedford, I agree that character development should be done gently and throughout the story. A prologue has a specific use; get the reader hooked. With that in mind they are only needed in certain circumstances, but they are certainly of value. Ideally they’ll give the reader a taste of things to come, so are particularly useful in a story that starts slowly. –  CLockeWork Nov 6 at 9:10

protected by Neil Fein Mar 6 at 21:05

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.