I’ve heard many credible sources advise not to have prologues in our books. Yet, writers continue to write them, and publishers continue to publish them. Does that mean we can safely disregard this advice? I think not.
Here’s why: I understand most readers skip prologues. That’s telling. Even more, I’ve read e-books that opened to chapter one, bypassing the prologue. So, if we want readers to read all of our words, we shouldn’t bother with a prologue.
If your book, or work-in-progress, has a prologue, consider the following:
- Can the prologue actually be relabeled as chapter one? (I did this for one of my books, and it flowed better.)
- If the prologue contains back-story, can you reveal it later?
- If the prologue establishes setting, especially world-building in science fiction, can those elements be moved to chapter one?
- Is the prologue really chapter one of a possible prequel?
- Can you delete the prologue without harming the rest of the book?
- Is the prologue actually necessary?
If answering these questions helps you remove your prologue, then great. If not, then proceed, but know that some readers will skip it and some publishers may object, insisting you remove it anyway.
Prologue with care.
Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!