First things first let’s define what prologue is used for. Different authors use prologue for different reasons. Let’s take a look at some of these reasons:
- To provide background information. For instance, if the author is describing the future it will be appropriate to give a description of the future world in the prologue or maybe show a scene which perfectly illustrates how the future world functions. This way, readers won’t be confused while reading the first chapter which describes a totally unfamiliar world.
- To grasp the reader’s attention from the very start of your story. The author may talk about a moving scene due to which the reader will want to keep on reading and learn the subsequent events.
- To elaborate a scene from the past that is essential for your story. For example, the author can describe how the father of the main character went missing which gives the main character motivation to act and search for his missing relative.
- To give a description of a scene from another point of view or in another timeframe. The author may choose to start with a story of a ninety-years-old person, while the narrative may be written from the standpoint of the same person who is much younger. Or the author can start with a third person to reveal the secret of the character, while the story is written in the first person.
The main problem with a prologue is that it can be boring. The author can include too many background information or go in too many details describing the social customs of the future world, all of which can easily turn the readers off. Frankly speaking in most cases prologues just aren’t necessary. Think thoroughly if the prologue is a necessary thing for your novel, and if you can’t answer that question positively just skip writing it.
In case you gave a positive answer you may start wondering when the prologue should be written. There are different options that you can choose. The prologue can be the first thing to write or you can write it later, upon the discovery of a vital component of the novel the best place of which is in the prologue. No matter when you decide to write a prologue, make sure to follow these rules:
- It should be interesting. No hook – no interest, so make sure that you have one in your prologue.
- Both your prologue and your first chapter should have a hook. It will ensure that your readers are interested in reading further.
- It shouldn’t be too long, otherwise, it can get your readers bored and that’s the last thing you want at the beginning of your novel.
- Use the prologue to set the tone. You can immerse your readers in the atmosphere of your novel from the very beginning by using the tone that will be present throughout the whole novel.
- Don’t write to much background information. Revealing different pieces of background information in different parts of the novel would be a much better strategy.
- Read prologues of other authors. This will give you a better understanding of how a prologue should look like.
If used inappropriately the prologue can put readers off, but if used effectively, the prologue enhances the story and furthers the plot, making the readers hooked from the first page.
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