I’ve heard many credible sources advise not to include 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.
Questions to Ask About Prologues
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 a 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.
The prologue with care.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.