There is such a great debate in the writing community on whether or not to include a prologue in novels. It seems like either writers hate prologues or love them; there is no middle ground. This is due to the fact that many writers don't get prologues right. Over 85% of prologues are unnecessary and this leads to many readers either reading them just because they don't want to skip part of a book, or skipping them entirely.
Why are prologues so hard to write? How can you write a good prologue that doesn't bore your readers? Read on for my tips.
Why Are Prologues Hard To Write?
- They are used for info dumps, world-building, or to tell a backstory
- They are too long
- They have nothing to do with the main story
You can always include backstory or world-building in the opening chapters of your book. Readers are smart, and if your opening chapters are written well, then they will understand what you're trying to convey. Prologues should also never be too long. A good rule of thumb is that your prologue should be shorter than an average chapter in your book. Finally, your prologue needs to have a purpose. If it has nothing to do with the book itself and isn't relevant to the plot, you should cut it.
When Should You Include A Prologue?
- If you need to include something that is relevant to the plot but that has already occurred.
- If you need to include something that is relevant to the plot such as a document, contract, or email exchange.
- If you need to include something relevant to the plot that will resolve or explain time gaps.
Notice a trend here? Prologues should ALWAYS be relevant to the plot.
Before you publish your book with a prologue ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it necessary? Does my manuscript make sense without it?
- Is it interesting or is it just a glorified info dump?
- Is it boring? (You never want to open your book with something that won't hold your readers' attention!)
- Is it short?
Remember, if your prologue isn't necessary, brief, and engaging, then don't include one in your published manuscript. If your prologue isn't necessary to the plot, then don't include it. If your book can stand on its own without a prologue then definitely don't include one.
I hope this article, and these tips, are helpful in helping you decide whether or not you will include a prologue in your book. If you have any additional questions or tips, please leave them in the comments down below!