Scrap That Prologue - A Post by Captain America

PROLOGUE

In the following sentences and paragraphs with letters and punctuations, I, Captain America of the YAvengers, who wears red, white, and blue, will tell you why prologues such as this are unneeded in almost every case.

I will have insight from industry professionals in the field of publishing fiction and non-fiction, along with reasons why a prologue is rarely needed.

CHAPTER ONE

Stop. Did you read my prologue? I've told you: a) what you already know about me, and b) what I'll tell you, in depth, now. So was that introduction necessary? No.

A prologue, in the definitive sense, is an opening to a story that establishes the setting and gives background details, often some earlier story that ties into the main one, and other miscellaneous information. (Wikipedia)

Ninety-nine percent of the time, a prologue isn't needed. If you've written one, chances are you can scrap it. The setting you've set in the prologue? You can weave it into your first chapter, mix it into dialogue and action.

There are few instances when a prologue works - for example a different POV (point of view), or a snippet from an earlier - or even later - time than when the story is set. Prologues work, but not always. And if you can avoid - then why have one?

My suggestion? To write it. If you feel the need for a prologue, write that prologue. Then continue with the story. Once you're done, go back to your prologue (save a copy of the original) and delete it sentence by sentence, weaving those deleted sentences into the actual story. It will work, I promise.

If you're not ready to trust me - I don't blame you, I do look like I stepped out of a comic book after all - then take it from them.

“I’m not a fan of prologues, preferring to find myself in the midst of a moving plot on page 1 rather than being kept outside of it, or eased into it.”- Michelle Andelman, Regal Literary

“Most agents hate prologues. Just make the first chapter relevant and well written.”- Andrea Brown, Andrea Brown Literary Agency

“Prologues are usually a lazy way to give back-story chunks to the reader and can be handled with more finesse throughout the story. Damn the prologue, full speed ahead!”- Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary

(Source: Writer Unboxed)

You see? If a prologue can be avoided, then avoid it at all costs. Better yet, write it and use the technique I mentioned above and you might even strengthen your story.



6 comments:

  1. YES. Yes. I am so saving this post so I can reference it. Prologues drive me bonkers as a reader, but they fry my braincells when I'm beta-reading for a writing friend and am trying to explain why prologues aren't...ideal.

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  2. Interesting post - I am considering adding a prologue to my current WIP but it seems to fit your description of when a prologue might work - as it is a different POV and chronicles an even that takes place before the central story. But I will definitely try your method as well and see which ones comes out better!

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  3. As a reader, I'm not a huge fan of prologues. They only work for me if they're set much earlier (or as you said, later) than the actual story is. Even then, does it really have to be a prologue? Why not just include the flashback in the actual story?

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  4. This was a very interesting post! As writer I feel like I get drawn to them more and more. Don't know why..but I do. As a reader they can be good or bad. In some cases I love having a bit of mystery thrown in before the book. Other times I really wish they would just get on with it. It's a very interesting thing to discuss. Very nice Captain!

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  5. Awesome. Prologues are kind of like a drug . . . some people just can't stay away from them! I actually had an agent once tell me to add a prologue. I was rather shocked!

    Funny, I actually followed your advice there with my current WIP. I wrote a prologue just so I knew what had happened. Then in the writing, I found that those details were SO MUCH BETTER woven in over time. Like you said, improved the book by leaps and bounds. :)

    Great post!

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  6. Yes, I agree. I DO NOT like prologues!!!! I have never used them in my novels. Splicing them into your first chapter is SUCH an excellent idea, though, and I will keep it in the back of my mind for my writing buddies!!! Thanks for the post!!

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