Words and stories matter. The stuff of which they’re made — the marrow of them, the thoughts, ideas and beliefs that build them — can give us direction and hope and guide us towards community, or they can isolate us and tear us apart inside. Sometimes we need reminding of why stories mean so much and the power they have. Books that hold a lot of weight in society, with ideas that have shaken and informed the psyche of our modern world, are often prefaced with a page or two of writing that attempts to encapsulate why these books matter. In the spirit of literature, let’s quickly talk about forewords and introductions.
Personally, I love introductions… I love the sound the pages make as they flip by on my way to the first chapter. I mostly read forewords and introductions when I was studying English Literature and needed a quick reference for general themes or features of the novel, but I’ll be honest: if I’m not writing about the book, I’ve probably skipped the intro and launched myself right into the action. As a result, I’m woefully unlearned when it comes to the words that are regularly used to introduce a story to its audience. I couldn’t resist the correlation between my first individual post on this blog and the opening words of a novel, though, so I read up on the purpose of forewords and introductions.
To my knowledge, a book usually earns an intro or a foreword after it’s gained a certain amount of fame — or notoriety. While introductions are usually written by the author of the work themselves, forewords are written by another person — generally someone with a certain amount of gravitas in that field. They’re basically shout outs: successful, well-respected writers giving their support to a compatriot whose work they think has value. I’m not cool enough to have an author endorse me yet, so I guess we’ll have to eliminate this post as a foreword despite how much I love the word. (As a side note, ‘foreword’ is apparently one of the most misspelled words in the English language. I find this so amusing.)
That leaves the introduction, whose main purpose is to outline just what the book is about and the thoughts that predominate the text. If you think about it, book introductions aren’t unlike real-life introductions: if they’re done well, they should inform the person they’re addressing what matters most about them and why we should care. So: who are we, what matters most about us and why should you care?
I’m Hannah — one half of the But First Fiction team. I’m a word nerd with a penchant for literature and never enough shelf space. As I find my life more and more consumed by books, I wanted an outlet — a space to talk about how much stories mean to me and what we can learn from them and from each other. Enter Kyle, the other half of But First Fiction and a book junkie just like me! Together we decided to undertake an adventure and delve into the magical world of book blogging. This is what matters most about and to us: the transformative power of stories and the communities words can build. This is why we’re here: to talk about our favourite books, to grow a community of others like us, to bring ideas and passions and people together and learn from one another.
I hope you’ll stick around for more But First Fiction chatter! Leave us your thoughts in the comments: What more would you like to know about us? What’s the best introduction you’ve ever read? If you were a book, who would you like to write your foreword?
And now: forward!
P.S. Fun fact: another word for an introduction is PROLEGOMENON (try saying that three times fast after a drink)!