Prologues?

This has been a question that I have wanted to ask my readers for a long time. I enjoy writing prologues, but I have the constant question from many new readers of my material that wonder if the person in my prologue is the main character, or not. Here’s the answer: No, he is not the main character. Now, that I have addressed that issue, I would like to ask you guys, what is the point in having a prologue, and do they really add any depth or value to a novel?

My opinion is, occasionally they can, but the scary thing is, I’m about ready to ditch them completely. The only reason I want to stop writing prologues is because, what’s the point? If there’s an epic war that explains the reason for a novel, then yes maybe a prologue will work, but honestly, I would rather read about this epic battle throughout the book instead of a mere glimpse of the past/future in a prologue. So all in all, I think if I ditch the prologues and tell the story, this will help the stories flow better. Anyone else have this problem with their stories? If so, what would be a proper time to use a prologue?

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10 thoughts on “Prologues?

  1. Well I always use prologues, just because all the books I’ve read ever have them. I probably don’t use prologues when I’m writing a short story on my blog. If it’s an actual book I always use them.

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    • Yeah, I like using them. I just don’t know if I’ll use them anymore. Plus, I read an article somewhere that resented prologue but I usually sweep those articles under the rug cause I’m going to do what I want as a self published author. As long as My readers are fine with that.

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  2. You know, I found when I wrote prologues it was more to help me ‘write my way into the story’ without actually detracting from the story. Then I just scrapped the prologue later. The first piece of the book to be read has to grab the reader. If your prologue does that and the first chapter slows down, then you probably need the prologue. If, like me, you used a prologue to sketch out some main bits and then the action picks up in the first chapter, then you don’t need the prologue.
    That’s just my amateurish perspective anyway. I book I just read had a far more interesting POV in the prologue than it did from the main character for most of the book, so I spent the majority of time wishing that this character I had been first introduced to was the real protagonist. I guess that’s another risk of writing a prologue with a secondary or tertiary character – what if a reader likes them better than the ‘real’ main character? What if a reader who would’ve liked the real protagonist never got to that point because they were turned off by the guy in the prologue? Questions, questions, questions.
    I’m doing my head in now. You got me thinking!

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    • I never thought of that before. Using a prologue to start your book then getting rid of it. I can see that helping with a book. I love prologue in books. I’m just wonder if I left out the prologue of my stories would be more coherent for my readers. Either way, I do get positive feedback, but another thing that worries me is I don’t wrote with chapters. I do what Martin does and start my chapters by the character’s name. It helps with organization

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  3. I always scrap my prologues. I enjoy writing them, and they help me to develop my own characters and world, but in the end I think they take away from the story a little. I’ve read countless articles that suggest that prologues aren’t the best thing for pacing, but what Marigold said above fits with me as well. For some reason the character in the prologue is more interesting than the main character and I get a little let down when it goes into the story proper.
    I do love George R.R. Martin’s prologues though.

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  4. In the book “Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us” by editor Jessica Page Morrell, she says this about prologues: “To qualify as a prologue, the information or events must exist outside the framework of the main story.” She also says, “Prologues must illuminate all that follows and create unease and curiosity.” I think these are helpful guidelines to keep in mind when considering to use one or not. I used one in my first book to set up the outbreak that was about to occur (it was a short description of patient zero and how he initially spread the virus on a plane). I’m not using one in my second novel since the intro is part of the story with one of the main characters. Great topic.

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    • I have always wondered the proper length of a prologue. I may have made mine too long and too in depth to be a prologue. I had my editor go through it and the complaint she has was it seemed like a part of the book so I knocked it down a little, but I think it’s still too lengthy.

      In Phantom Force, I’m not doing a prologue though because I want to avoid confusion, but that quote definitely helps to.understand it’s use. Thanks, Carrie. Appreciate the comment!

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  5. I’m just backwards. I always use a prologue, but I don’t write it until I’m done with the book. It allows me to create an insight I think readers might want to know. One that I couldn’t fit anywhere in the main book without it completely messing up the flow of things. Most of the time, it’s a past or recent event using my main character or someone close to them. If by some chance it’s a different character than the one that starts the first chapter, it’s still one of my main characters.
    Very interesting to read other’s opinions and experience with the topic. I wonder how everyone feels about epilogues?

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    • lol I was waiting for someone to bring up Epilogues. I never use them only because I’m not familiar with using them the proper way. Now that you bring it up though, I may try it out in one of my novel, but the ones I’ve been writing lately have done fine without an epilogue.
      Thanks for you comment!

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