When reading fantasy or sci-fi, the writer is usually presenting you with a new world, which may resemble our own, or be very different. To make it work, the reader has to understand that world, and more importantly, have to believe in it.
Some writers choose to throw you straight into their world, finding ways to provide you with background, history, and rules as the story progresses. I’ve read books in which this fails to work for me – often I find myself so concerned with trying to figure out the world, that I fail to concentrate fully on the story.
I’ve experienced two books recently which make this work – the first is the Dark Tower series, which I once thought I’d never read. I gave it a try when it came out in audio, and I’m hooked. I believe fully in Roland’s world, and even it’s connection with ours.
I’ve also just finished a new YA fantasy book, A Throne of Glass. This one takes a while to build up it’s world, and I do think it slows down the book at the beginning, but it pays off – once you’re settled in the world, the story really kicks off.
Then there’s the prologue idea – and this is what prompted this post. I’ve just picked up my ARC of Katya’s World, from a new imprint, Strange Chemisty. The prologue, which tells you the world’s history over a few hundred years, is only a few pages. And yet in those few pages, I feel I understand the world’s origin, and something of the people living there. Just a few pages, and I’m ready to lose myself in the story. I’m impressed.
So, what do you prefer – a slow build, or a good prologue? Any good or bad examples of either?