3 Reasons to Ditch Your Novel’s Prologue
The prologue is a legitimate story-telling device, but many readers admit that when they see the word “Prologue,” they skip at once to the page that begins with the words “Chapter One.”
Sometimes a prologue is the ideal way to present information essential to the reader’s understanding of the story.
Mystery writers, for example, often begin with a prologue written from the killer’s point of view, or perhaps that of the killer’s first victim. On the other hand, such a scene can be written as “Chapter One” as Martha Grimes does it in The Dirty Duck.
Writers of historical fiction may wish to provide background information to orient the reader in an unfamiliar period.
Writers of fantasy or sci-fi may write a prologue to equip the reader with unfamiliar assumptions held by the inhabitants of the strange world they’re about to enter.
Too often, however, what some writers call a “prologue” is undigested back story, mere scene-setting, or what should be Chapter One.
Ditch your prologue if…
1. …it seems boring even to you and you can hardly wait to get to Chapter One.
2. …it’s a lengthy narrative of back story that could more effectively be doled out in small bits as the story progresses.
3. …all it does is create atmosphere without having much to do with the story.
Reconsider that Prologue (Update: link no longer active)
Prologues and Epilogues
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