Whether to write a preface or forward

Skull with bowling alley skittles used in book cover for horror story 'Deadly Skittles.'

I’ve never considered writing a preface or forward in my novels until now, but now that I have, I’ve found it pretty useful.

Here’s why.

It can supply a lot of information that is in the story, in a single page.

That’s if it is only a page long, of course.

My intuition tells me that it isn’t a good idea to make it any longer than a page, for the following reason.

It isn’t action, narrative, description, or dialogue, which are essential components of a story.

It’s just information.

And let’s be truthful, information can be uninteresting.

For example.

When you look at the screen in an airport you are only interested in what time your plane departs.

The rest of the information doesn’t interest you.

A forward/preface can also be a deterrent.

Do readers really want to read what the story is about in this way?

Wouldn’t they rather find out for themselves, by reading the story?

So why I have found it so useful?

It avoids the need to frequently explain what something is.

For example.

In the preface below* I describe what a Betting Screen is.

If I didn’t do this, I would have to frequently explain what it is.

But I can think of one problem with writing a forward or preface.

By the time the reader has read a few pages of the story he/she might have forgotten the information that is in it.

*From my soon-to-be-published novel ‘Deadly Skittles’

PREFACE

He eyes the Skittles at the end of the bowling alley carefully, trying to decide where to aim the ball that he holds in his hand.

But this isn’t a normal bowling alley.

The Skittles are different.

They aren’t made of plastic.

They’re human beings.

And in this bowling alley the aim is to break their legs.

One of the Skittles is his girlfriend.

If he hits her with the ball he will break her legs.

Above the bowling alley is a viewing room.

It’s called the Players Gallery.

The Players are ruthless gamblers who place bets on which Skittle will have their legs broken.

There are nine Skittles and they have been arranged in a diamond shape, like the way   skittles are arranged in a conventional bowling alley.

For convenience, the Players refer to it as the Diamond.

A Skittle who is at front of the Diamond is in the position called Diamond One.

The Skittle who is on his her left is Diamond Two.

Etc.

The betting odds are displayed on a huge electronic Betting Screen which is suspended above the bowling alley, where the Skittles, Bowlers and Players can see it.

The injured Skittles are transported to what is described as a Hospital From Hell.

Here, in a filthy ward which is covered with their human body waste because they can’ t reach the toilet their shattered limbs are covered only by filthy bandages, and there are no pain killers so they constantly scream with pain.

Yet incredibly, that is the way they prefer it.

Because if they ever recover from their injuries they will be forced to become Skittles again.

And their legs will be broken again.

And again.

And again.

Until they die.

Author: Paul Gresham