Prologue….or no Prologue?

Twitter had an interesting #AskAgent last week that included the question of prologues.  One of my favorite online agents, Colleen Lindsay stated that prologues are generally not necessary to a novel.  What was interesting, is the conversation that ensued between myself and some of my favorite beta readers….my kid, some other 12-18 year-olds and some friends.  I call them my own personal “Think Tank.”  I use them to bounce around story ideas, get their advice as readers on things and other types of market “research”

Well, the Think Tank agreed with a lot of the agents on twitter, stating that most of the people they know skip prologues, or don;t understand their “actual” relevance to a story line.  One of the agents, Colleen I think, stated that she typically doesn’t even read the prologue  – not until after she has read the book.  And most of the time it is NOT necessary to the storyline. 

That really got me thinking.  So, I thought I would do a little more research – and ask you, my faithful readers…what do you guys think of prologues?  Take the poll.  I’ll report the findings next week…

8 thoughts on “Prologue….or no Prologue?

  1. Christine Fonseca

    LOL – I love that (violently opposed) – – and you know what, after participating in #ASKAGENT…mee too!

  2. I’m of the mind that if it is that relevant to the story, shouldn’t it already be IN the book, as opposed to provided specifically as a prologue.

    In my recent readings, I’ve found prologues (and epilogues) are more frequently included in the fantasy/paranormal books I’ve read than in contemporary fiction. Just an observation. Trend for the genre?

  3. It’s usually the cheater’s way of establishing back story. Either that, or it’s foreshadowing for something that we see later anyway… so it’s a cheater’s way of creating tension for a poorly paced beginning of the novel.

    The Catch-22 is that if your book can’t survive on it’s own without the prologue, then there’s something missing in the book. If it can, then what’s the point of the prologue?

    And I think that’s why most people will tell you to ditch it.

    Worst prologue I’ve seen recently? Breaking Dawn.

    Ms. Meyers used her prologues to up the tension, giving a snapshot of a later scene. Then, in the fourth book, she gives a snapshot of a scene that NEVER ACTUALLY OCCURS IN THE BOOK.

    le sigh.

  4. Christine Fonseca

    I totally agree with you guys…and the Breaking Dawn comment..yep, couldn’t agree more! You guys are all so smart😀

  5. I think it depends on the book.

    I’ve read some really awful prologues.

    My mss has one, and without it, the reader would be completely lost. It’s pretty upsetting to see that an agent would ignore something like that.

  6. I really do not understand all the prologue hate. I think sometimes they are really great for establishing mood, almost like a quote at the beginning of a novel, but longer. I’ve never personally used them, but I definitely think they have a place. Maybe all the vitriol against them is just because they can be so easily abused?

  7. I’m in the same situation as Kat.

    My story *could* stand on its own without the prologue, as what happens in the prologue is talked about later in the book, but it adds so much more intrigue and mystery to the beginning. And, if I were to put all that information in the scenes where the prologue comes back into play, it’d just be an info dump in both instances. There’s really no other way around it. And it’s key to the novel–without the scene, there’d be no point in even writing the story…

    I am writing a fantasy, and honestly, that’s really the only genre where I can see a prologue being necessary.
    But I’ve had a couple people fiercely opposed to prologues (why have them? why not start the story where the story starts?) tell me that my prologue works and is rather good.
    I could make it chapter one and then jump ahead twenty years in chapter two, but that’s even more ridiculous than the idea of a prologue, IMO.

    I do agree that they are overused, though. They should be necessary. If not, start with chapter one and move on…

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