Considering What Comes Before

For various reasons, I’m considering matters of style right now. What works and what, really, does not. The things that happen before your book actually begins is one of those things that needs really careful consideration. I’m talking, of course, about prologue. Does your book need one? And, if it does, what should it add?

Prologue in general is a funny animal. By its very nature, a prologue would seem to be something apart from the body of the story. Something extra. I know people who don’t read prologues until they’re done the book, and then only if they loved the story and want something a little extra. Another thought is that prologues set things up: set the stage. But, if that’s the case, what are you meant to do in chapter one?

In your own writing, you need to think seriously about your prologue before tagging on one. What purpose do you feel it serves? What are you trying to accomplish? And in what way are you hoping it moves the story forward? Be careful that your prologue doesn’t rip the reader out of the story before they’re properly settled in.

Prologue for the sake of prologue is without point. Unless you have a compelling reason to begin with something outside of the story, consider losing the prologue and beginning with chapter one. Instead of preamble, begin with action. What could be better than that?


Anonymous said…
I've never thought about prologue in this way before. I'm not sure I want to now, either. My readers expect a prologue of me by now. I fear they would be disappointed were I not to include one.

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