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WW Exercise #11: Prologue


Massilon, Ohio, 1823.

When Mayhew Folger retired as captain of the infamous Nantucket sealing ship, Topaz, he never dreamed his life would end quietly, let alone far from seafaring in a small town in the middle of the continent.

Folger rises from the desk in his study and stares from the window; it is mid January and snowing. Folger stirs coals in the fire, then examines the ship’s clock on the mantle; daylight is failing and it reminds him that the clock needs winding. As he turns the key, he knows time has come.

Being of sound mind and excellent memory, but lately abandoned by good health, Mayhew Folger wishes to record the details of his unlikely involvement in a sensational series of events. Folger’s untold story began in 1787, thirty-five years before.

Captian Mayhew Folger does not want his account of history to become public during his lifetime. When finished, Folger will seal his testimony and leave it for his heirs to judge. Folger does not wish this document to be seen until after the deaths of both he and his wife.

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WW Exercise #11: Prologue by 

Breaking the rules: Prologue and weather…


  • LouiseKuskovski
    LouiseKuskovskiover 5 years ago

    I think you’ve done a fine job of enticing the reader to continue on. I would make one suggestion…make your last paragraph your first…I think it packs the most punch. If it were to follow the place and date… I think the reader would race to the end and onto the next pages….


  • Thanx Louise! I very much appreciate your constructive thinking. I shall consider your idea carefully— and hopefully others soon to be offered Ç;-)

    – Bob Fox

  • When I write, I try to be cognizant of structure: micro structure, deep theory structure, Swain’s structure, so my initial consideration was to wonder how your suggestion would effect the planned structure. I think moving the first sentence of the last paragraph to the beginning would achieve exactly the impact you’ve offered without effecting the planned structure— in fact, I believe such an edit would enhance the structure— by putting the primary motivation right at the start. Folger really wants, actually needs to tell his story, but even more important than that motivation is making certain his wife is never hurt by the story. Perhaps I am inferring too much. Thoughts?

    – Bob Fox

  • cdwork
    cdworkover 5 years ago

    Not being a talented wordsmith I don’t feel able to constructively criticize your work. However I do want to read on!

  • For a writer— at least for this writer, holding the reader’s interest is the greatest prize! Thanx Chrissy!

    – Bob Fox

  • buzzy
    buzzyover 5 years ago

    Again you made it.Not a single word is wasted.Exciting read,Bob.

    Keep it up because you shine!

  • Thank you Buzzy! Your encouragement makes it fun to fantasize this prologue exercise as the foundation of a great work!

    – Bob Fox

  • Zolton
    Zoltonover 5 years ago

    Well written, sir! I wish I hadn’t got out of the loop on those writing exercises. Sounds like an interesting story….

  • Thanx Zolton! I haven’t been a regular participant either, but I have been interested. I really like the environment— a lot of good thinking about how to write being shared!

    – Bob Fox

  • NeilWells
    NeilWellsover 5 years ago

    I would be ready to read on…..sounds like some interesting adventures could be ahead

  • Thanx Neil! I hope I do create more to read about this. Who knows the fates? For me writing is fun, but it is also hard work.

    – Bob Fox

  • jcmontgomery
    jcmontgomeryover 5 years ago

    I see how you want to relate why he is writing this, and why also it will not be released until after his and his wife’s passing. But this doesn’t have to be part of the prologue.

    The prologue is setting the scene, providing an introduction, and getting the reader’s interest, but I don’t believe it is a summary or synopsis, which it sounds like if that last para is left in.

    I think it would be more powerful to have the reader get through the story and then realize what they’ve been reading is a posthumous accounting.

    Just my opinion hon. Regardless, this is a great prelude to something I hope we get to see more of.

  • Thank you for your thoughts! Isn’t a prologue the ‘story before the story’? If the idea about the wife’s passing doesn’t need to be in the prologue, doe this mean I have successfully ‘broken the rules’? I slipped the weather in also as a metaphor for the season of his life.

    Your suggestion of the posthumous surprise is a good one. My thinking was perhaps a surprise about why he wouldn’t want his wife to know— and then the reader asking all through the story: why wouldn’t Folger want this known? I think it is a preconception that sailors are given to boasting, but this one does not.

    – Bob Fox

  • BHeden
    BHedenover 5 years ago

    Good stuff and I like the style and pace of your writing very much but there is a slight mogul there where you suddenly switch from third person past to third person present just after the first paragraph.

  • Good observation. Thanx! I’m actually on guard for that— and still miss them all the time. I think it is some sort of adult-onset autism… Ç;-)

    – Bob Fox

  • jcmontgomery
    jcmontgomeryover 5 years ago

    I think the rule was having a prologue period, but I understand that by going ahead and breaking the rule – might as well go all the way! ROFL

    And sailors might be prone to boasting, but if he was the ship’s Captain, he is altogether a different animal. So if that is the case, you may wish to clarify that.

    I like good “aha!” moments in stories, and any posthumous secret you reveal will be a good one I’m sure.

  • RosaCobos
    RosaCobosover 5 years ago

    Oh… I have been enjoying the sort of forum…. in which you receive all kinds of good advices… opinions and a consideration about your working. I must confess that I cannot tell anything of that sort.. in fact.. as i did not realize it was a workshop… i asked to myself.. oh… "why does not continue.. "I mean the story…
    But then… there it is.. What I appreciate is that the style fits very well into the writing of that ephoc…reminds me of some of the stories I have lately read of “horror” type… like Edgar Allan Poe’s and so far… and specially ConanDoyle…in which the writer takes good care in presenting the pshychological portrait of the main character.. and then you are withdrawn to an environ, highly descriptive, where the person is intrincated with the place, being this a home, a room, or even a landscape. It forms part of the character… it is not just a background or mere ornament.
    Rosa (you write with “solidity”…. Bob.)

  • Thank you Rosa. Your comments are so very thoughtful! I appreciate you taking the time to share your ideas and comparisons. I would love to be in a league with such dynamic models— one day perhaps if I keep trying. Thanx again for checking out my work!

    – Bob Fox

  • BHeden
    BHedenover 5 years ago

    Bob: Maybe you should keep up with the juxtapositioning of third past and present and see where it takes you. Maybe third present for the present in the story and third past for the past. Or even vice versa?

    Something I discovered in my own writing is that there seem to be two ways to improve one’s writing. One way makes it better prose and develops it into a something we might accept as sound narrative. The braver way initially makes it much more difficult either to wade through or perhaps even to understand, but sometimes, when we are coming to learn our voice we have to have the courage to let our writing worsen for a while until we find out where that voice is really leading. Listening to our voice and coming to understand our own style doesn’t have any short term benefits and can take us further from where we think we want to be but at the end of the day that is where greatness resides.

  • Bradley, you have offered a profound and encouraging suggestion! Timely too, as I feel my stylistic evolution is in such a trough. Lately, my only short term benefits have come in the form of constructive suggestions. They are much appreciated!

    – Bob Fox

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