How to Use Prologues, Part 4, Does Your Story Need a Prologue?

open book with sketch of 3D pirate and treasure on the left and a sailing ship on the right.
Image courtesy of Tumisu via Pixabay

Hi SErs! It’s a day of Harmony here at Story Empire 🙂 Today, I’d like to talk about whether or not your story needs a prologue. Here’s a link to the previous post on Prologue Dos and Don’ts

So far in this post series we’ve looked at what a prologue is and isn’t and also what to do and not to do when using a prologue. How, you might ask, do you decide whether or not you need a prologue in the first place?

Why Do You Need a Prologue?

  1. A well-written prologue can add power to your main narrative
  2. If you want to foreshadow events to come, a prologue will help you to do that to good effect
  3. If you want to let your reader be privy to information the characters are unaware of, then a prologue will be a useful tool
  4. If you need to impart vital information to your reader before the main story begins, then you need a prologue
  5. If you need to show events from a unique point of view, then a prologue will be useful. Usually, this point of view won’t appear again in the narrative, but the events will be revisited or referenced from your main character’s perspective
  6. If you want to set the feel or tone of the story, then a prologue could be useful (however, see point 1 below …)
  7. If you need to give information to your reader about the conflict, world, inciting incident, or time period, then a prologue will help you to do that to good effect

Why Don’t You Need a Prologue?

  1. If your prologue can be woven into the body of your story then you don’t need one

Don’t you love how short the reasoning for not using a prologue is?! Keeps it nice and simple 🙂

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 29th July, when we’ll take a look at Backstory Delivery via Prologues 🙂

Bio Box for Harmony Kent that links to her website

The prologue series so far:

Part One, Prologues Overview

Part Two, What a Prologue Is and Isn’t

Part Three, Prologue Dos and Don’ts

©2022 Harmony Kent

60 thoughts on “How to Use Prologues, Part 4, Does Your Story Need a Prologue?

  1. Pingback: How to Use Prologues, Part 6, Spoilers Ahoy | Story Empire

  2. Pingback: How to Use Prologues, Part 5, Backstory Delivery | Story Empire

  3. Hi Harmony, it is interesting that I should find this post today. Yesterday, I was looking through Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot and I noticed he used a prologue. It worked well for that book and certainly worked well as a hook for that book. Another great example of a most excellent prologue is in H.G. Wells War of the Worlds. Who hasn’t heard: No one would have believed in the early years of the 21st century that our world was being watched by intelligences greater than our own. That as men busied themselves about their various concerns, they observed and studied, the way a man with a microscope might observe the creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency, men went to and fro about the globe, confident of our empire over this world. Yet across the gulf of space, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic regarded our planet with envious eyes, and slowly, and surely, drew their plans against us.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This has been a helpful series, Harmony. I struggled with whether or not to include one, but my decision to include a prologue checks the boxes next to a couple of your top list. Thanks so much for these posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: How to Use Prologues, Part 4, Does Your Story Need a Prologue? — Story Empire – Guam through my eyes

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