This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
This week a Novelicious reader asks:
What do you think about prologues in books? Are they seen as a good or bad thing?
Caroline says: I think it absolutely depends on the book. I don’t have an instinctive gut feeling about them either way, but I would be cautious about using a prologue to ‘tell’ too much about the novel. If you’re using it to establish the period and location of a historical novel, I’d be careful about letting that prologue do the work for you, and also about letting it become too informative and dry. If you have done enough ‘showing’ in your opening chapters to establish characters, setting and era, do you really need a prologue? If it’s to introduce an intriguing strand of the story that you then cut away from, or temporarily leap forwards to hint at something yet to come, then I’m all for something that lights a fire under your readers. If you’re going to write a prologue, make it a prologue the reader can’t forget. But like any part of your novel, if it’s not pushing the story on, it has to go. Be strict – trim away any unnecessary fat – and your novel will be all the stronger for it.