Monday, August 17, 2009

Foreword Thinking

I have a piece in the new issue of Publishers Weekly called Preliminaries, inspired by Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing(if you haven't read them, you should).

One of Leonard's rules states: “Avoid prologues. They can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword.” Jumping off from there, I try to explain how to tell an introduction from a foreword from a prologue from a preface, and get hopelessly muddled in the attempt.

Another of Leonard's rules states: "Never use the words 'suddenly' or 'all hell broke loose.'" I managed to adhere to this rule.

A third states: "Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip." Not so sure about that one...


  1. I was happy to understand at last the difference between a prologue, a preface, an introduction and a foreword. One thing that deserves mention is that about one out of every three submissions to publishers and literary agents - at least to our literary agency - begins with a "Forward". As that's the first word we lay eyes on, writers should be more mindful of (bad) first impressions. Otherwise, the first word of your book may be the last one that editors or agents bother to read.

    Richard Curtis

  2. Good point, Richard, thanks. I imagine you see the occasional Prefice and Interduction as well.