Good morning and welcome to wwwblogs. Today, we’re talking about the prologue. What purpose does it serve in your book? Is it necessary?
First of all, the main purpose of a prologue is to introduce an important element of your story that happens out of sequence with the other events. The best scenario is to use the prologue as an introduction to a major event and then lead the reader there with a carefully crafted story that gives the reader understanding on how all this ties together. A prologue should be short, no more than two to three pages. It’s not standard chapter length because it’s main purpose, it’s only purpose, is to introduce the reader early to important information, whether it happens within the story or is based on events that happened long before the story begins.
Recently, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. Instead of strictly following our most important rule of “show don’t tell,” many authors are using the prologue to introduce characters and their background. We’re being told about the setting, the motivations of everyone noteworthy in the story, and some not so noteworthy characters. The setting is described in excruciating detail. These prologues run from fifteen to thirty pages, with the author claiming they’re absolutely necessary for the reader to understand their book.
Uh… clears throat… this prologue is notnecessary by any means. The author has become so insecure about their work that they are telling the reader information they feel isn’t portrayed enough in the book and they couldn’t find a way to put it in there. It’s really that simple. All of the information used in these prologues could have been sprinkled throughout the book, as the characters appeared. A sentence or three here and there was all it would have taken to give the same sense this boring explanation of the book has done, and you haven’t lost readers in the process.
Authors have rules we must follow. Yes, it’s very easy to write a book. It’s not easy at all to go through and edit, revise, and rewrite a book so it’s publication ready. It’s heart wrenching for an author to go through this process with an editor, because they hate taking anything out of the book they’ve sweated for months if not years writing. The arguments about these types of prologues can be called nothing less than legendary but they are never compelling.
Why can’t an author make a case to keep this type of prologue with their editor?
Simply because a good editor will have recognized the prologue is sheer telling the reader the basic plot of the story, what the characters look like, and their motivations. It truly has nothing to do with the actual story and will be the cause of readers shutting the book after the third or fourth page and never buying another of your books.
About K.C. Sprayberry
Born and raised in Southern California’s Los Angeles basin, K.C. Sprayberry spent years traveling the United States and Europe while in the Air Force before settling in northwest Georgia. A new empty nester with her husband of more than twenty years, she spends her days figuring out new ways to torment her
She’s a multi-genre author who comes up with ideas from the strangest sources. Those who know her best will tell you that nothing is safe or sacred when she is observing real life. In fact, she considers any situation she witnesses as fair characters and coming up with innovative tales from the South and beyond. game when plotting a new story.
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