Hi SErs! It’s a day of Harmony here at Story Empire 🙂 Today, I’d like to talk about prologue dos and don’ts. Here’s a link to the previous post on What A Prologue Is and Isn’t
One of the reasons prologues have fallen into ill repute in recent times is because far too many authors make a mess of them. They use prologues as a crutch for a weak story beginning or to dump backstory and/or information, which tells rather than shows. In short, such authors do not know how to use a prologue.
- Use a prologue to cover a time gap in your narrative … either in the past or in the present
- Use a prologue to cover a vital element of backstory that needs to come before your main narrative opens
- Use a prologue to show a key event, either from the past or present, that is significant to the narrative
- Use a prologue to provide any necessary context for the rest of your narrative
- Use a prologue to insert clues
- Use a prologue to introduce an outsider’s report, which will show events from an alternative point of view
- Keep your prologue short and to the point
- Make your prologue gripping and leave your reader with questions
- Don’t use a prologue as a vehicle for a massive information dump
- Don’t use a prologue that has nothing to do with your main story
- Don’t use a prologue with the sole purpose of hooking your reader. It isn’t there to prop up a poor first chapter or three
- Don’t write the prologue in a completely different style and/or voice than your main story
- Don’t write a whole novella as your prologue
- Don’t dump a whole backstory or build a whole world in your prologue. There’s room for that to get folded into your narrative as you go
- Don’t write a boring prologue … I mean, what would be the point?
TOP TIP: When you write a good prologue, and have a valid reason for using one, it will enhance your story rather than detract from it.
Remember: There are NO hard-and-fast rules. You can do anything you want, as long as you do it well and with good reason.
That’s it from me today. I hope you’ll find this series of posts useful. I’ll see you again on Friday 17th June, when we’ll take a look at Does Your Book Need a Prologue? 🙂
The prologue series so far:
©2022 Harmony Kent