To Prologue or Not To Prologue — Paving My Author’s Road


Welcome to this third segment of “To or Not To!” If you’ve been following my blog than you know that this post is an ask and answer. I put out a question to readers and writers about a certain topic. The previous two were about romance and one of its many tropes, the love triangle. I asked how you felt about including a romance plot in a story. And how you felt about love triangles.

Well in today’s post we’ll be discussing prologues. Love them or hate them? If you run a search online you’ll find a bunch of results about how publishers and agents feel about them.

They. Do. Not. Like. Them.

So what’s a prologue? A prologue is a prelude of the story that offers background information. So why is it liked about as much as that annoying cousin you dread meeting during the holidays?

Because with a prologue, you’re telling your story twice. Which comes off as redundant and unnecessary.

I admit that I’ve used prologues in my writing. But once I heard about the aversion publishers/agents have towards it, I removed them. My young adult fantasy, Nadia the Fire Witch, had a prologue set 80 years in the past. And featured the scene of the previous fire witch’s death. Was I wrong to remove it? I don’t really think so. Because then I’d rearranged that scene to appear in a series of memories. And dreams that haunts my main character. Spurring her to solve the mystery of it as well as its connection to the town she just moved to.

My other work in progress, Harbingers of El Tinor, is an epic fantasy. This one had two different prologues. The first featured the villain beloved by the poor community she arrived and now lives in. Ending with her meeting with a rebel leader. I’d scrapped that one to feature a scene from the point of view of an elder and loyal servant, fighting to stay awake. Because the MC has drugged everyone by burning a sleep inducing plant. All to increase her chances in running away. And buying enough time for a head start to escape capture and returned home. Her last words before succumbing to it are, “Young mistress…Aithne…why?” I then axed the second prologue and wrote an epitaph which I’ve now planned on rewriting as a song/poem.

Hell, even after all that I might bring the prologues back to one or both.

So, to prologue or not to prologue? That is the question.

Readers and writers what are your thoughts and feelings about the use of a prologue. Read or written a prologue you thought actually worked for the story? The opposite? Do you skip reading a prologue? Why? Writers, have you written and scrapped a prologue before? Why? Or did you keep your prologue?

For some additional reading about prologues, check out the following links:

4 Big Pitfalls in Story Openings by Jane Friedman

Question: the oft-maligned prologue by Janet Reid

The Problem with Prologues by Dan Koboldt

The Seven Deadly Sins of Prologues by Kristen Lamb

via To Prologue or Not To Prologue — Paving My Author’s Road


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