Saturday, December 3, 2011

What's Past Is Prologue

     As with so much else he did, Shakespeare had it right when he penned that pithy phrase for “The Tempest.”

     The past can indeed set the stage (or provide the prologue) for the present and hence the future.

     The same applies to prologues in books.  They’re scene setters that explain what brought the protagonist to his or her current predicament. 

     Of course, a lot of readers actively dislike book prologues.  They consider them unnecessary and just want to jump into the action of the main plot itself while the writer judiciously sifts in any important bits of backstory at the appropriate time.

     It’s a valid point of view, and after writing the prologue to “Finding You Again,” I did try a prologue-less beginning.  But somehow it didn’t feel quite right to me, and since the prologue is just 293 words and (in my opinion, at least) sort of amusing, I decided to stay with it. 

     So here it is: the short prologue (the past) that provides the background for what sends Maggie Demarco, the heroine, on her journey (the present) into the future:


At one-thirty on a beautiful afternoon in early June, Maggie Demarco stood in the small anteroom at the rear of St. Athanasius Church, wearing a magnificent white gown and waiting for the moment when her father would walk her down the aisle and deliver her for all time into the tender arms of her groom, the love of her life.

At one forty-four, Maggie was still waiting.

At one fifty-nine, the entire assembled wedding party finally realized Maggie was still waiting. And so were they.

At two-twelve... That’s right. Still waiting.

At two-sixteen, calls, e-mails and instant messages began going out to the groom to alert him that he was, umm, just a wee bit late to his own wedding.

At two-twenty-seven, Maggie’s father, the wee-bit-late-groom’s father, the best man, and the ten groomsmen all set out in search of the love of Maggie Demarco’s life.

At two-forty-eight, it finally became evident that the groom hadn’t been in a horrible auto accident on his way to church. Nor had he suffered a near-fatal heart attack, been snatched by kidnappers, or developed a sudden case of amnesia. He had simply turned tail and left town for parts unknown without bothering to inform his bride that he’d experienced a last-minute change of heart about their happily-ever-after.

At three-o-five, belatedly admitting to herself that her perfect wedding was toast, and so was she, Maggie Demarco ripped the tiara veil off her head and ran from the church. Caught between cathartic tears and even more cathartic anger, she vowed, so help her God, that she would never marry anyone—no way, no how—and if she ever found her former beloved fiancé, she would whack the lily-livered louse senseless with what was left of her five-hundred-dollar bouquet.

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