How can you get people to read your story?  It doesn’t matter if you have the most clever twist ending, the best characterization, or the prettiest artwork, if people aren’t hooked after the first couple pages they won’t care.  Your hard work will fall through the cracks like all those other struggling artists (like you).  You need to wow the readers from the start.  A good PROLOGUE can help.

What is a Prologue?

A prologue is a taste of what’s to come.  It shows the readers what your story is about and what they can expect from the rest of your book.  Usually, it’s a scene taken from the 4th act of the story.  Comics and television use this more often than other forms of media.  We’re dropped into the middle of a situation and need to read/watch the rest of it to find out what happened.

What makes a good Prologue?

Questions.  The prologue should leave the audience with questions that they need to find the answer too.  This will urge them to keep reading.  Chapter one may start at the beginning and force them to read through until they catch up to when the prologue actually occurs in the books.  We’ve all read comics with exciting prologues. How will batman get out of this?! We’ll tell you, but first we’ll tell you why he’s in this situation to begin with.

The Prologue should epitomise the rest of your story.  Is your story action based?  Focus on action.  Evocative and emotional?  Use close up panels to emphasize your character’s feelings.  Is it a mystery or an informative tale?  Use establishing shots to give your readers a greater sence of the world.

Finally, the Prologue can’t be a throwaway scene.  It has to be relevant to your story as a whole (one of the reasons it is normally taken from act 4).  The questions you ask in the prologue should be answered by the end of the story.  If not, people will feel, cheated.  People expect answers.  If they don’t get them, you lose their trust and they will be less likely to read your work in the  future.

Creating Comics Tip is brought toyou by Walter Dickinson, Ty Templeton, and the Toronto Cartoonist Workshop.  For more information contact the Toronto Catoonist workshop at http://cartoonistsworkshop.wordpress.com/. Read about my experience at the TCW HERE