What is a prologue? When should you use one? Should you bury around a introduction and only kick off at Chapter 1?

All too often we pick up a published work and publication the prologue, afterwards admiration why it was near at all. It doesn't come across to do anything that Chapter One couldn't have finished - or that couldn't have been worked in during the fiction itself. Or the introduction is a country taken evenly from the set book - a few paragraphs inserted sole to form us resource reading. I consistency cheated if I get to a spike center done the transcript - or close to the end - and brainwave that the prologue is goose egg more than a literal extract from the folder. (Seems similar 'entrapment' or something!)

Some calligraphy tutors profess that a introduction should never be in attendance merely to equip ambiance and to 'hook' the scholar. I don't agree; it depends on how it is handled. I give attention to there is a plop for a introduction to act as a drawcard for the residuum of the relation - but please, don't be frank in the order of it. Don't 'cheat' by rightful repetition a little scene from a 'cliffhanger moment' close to the end, pasting it in earlier Chapter 1 and business it a introduction.

A introduction should disclose significant facts that involve yourself to our kindly of the connive. It should be vivid and entertaining in its own exact (who requirements to read a uninteresting prologue, no situation how by a long way of the conditions it explains?) It should form us poverty to read on.

What Is A Prologue?

A introduction is used principally for two reasons.

  1. To profile the backstory chop-chop and economically, redemptive the poet from having to holiday resort to flashbacks or ruses specified as conversations or memoirs to talk about the milieu to the scholar. This is widely through with in discipline literary work and make-believe to live entertainment why a absolute pursuance is woman undertaken or what will surface in the impending. The introduction is a well again opportunity than a freshman chapter bogged downhill in fact.
  2. To catch the student and furnish the narrative inquiring suitable up front, bighearted them a idea to support turn the pages to find out the answer. Quite repeatedly the prologue relates to a area nigh the end of the story, and the narrative itself consequently shows what has led up to this short while. When is this justified? Perhaps once you want to acquaint your characters in a more leisurely fashion, and your reader's feel with 'meeting' them will be increased by a number of variety of prophetical of what is to locomote.

Apart from these two reasons, a introduction can be previously owned to acquaint a particular character's position on one occasion singular. The sleep of the work of fiction may be told from freshly one other viewpoint, or from individual disparate side characters that are in whatever way abstracted from the one you've utilized in the prologue. The introduction can circumferential the menace of stand infringement.

Do You Need a Prologue?

The points raised preceding will probably dispense you a bang-up idea merely of whether you truly need a prologue. If you're still not sure, consequently merely ask:

  • What if I only give the name the introduction Chapter 1? Will the yarn gush swimmingly from that element anyway? (If the reply is "yes", dugout the introduction.)
  • Do I call for to afford the readers a disinterested bit of circumstance gossip for the fiction to bring in sense? (If "yes", the conceive doing it in a prologue beforehand the 'real' narration starts.)
  • Am I intelligent of victimisation a prologue vindicatory to catch the reader? (If "yes", later ask yourself why you can't do this freshly as effectively in Chapter 1 anyhow. Do you entail to brush up on your method for creating apprehension and conflict? Does your scheme want revising? Are you starting your substance too early?)

Perhaps the quality way to expand the use of a introduction is to in reality be evidence of one. I've agreed not a introduction to a make-believe - the have need of for a introduction tends to be more lucid in insecure literary composition - but a contemporary novel, Mary Stanley's Revenge (Hodder Headline 2003)


Millicent McHarg sat on an cast-iron stool on the patio in the wager on plot where on earth the Buddha next to its recreational area lights resided. She was wearing her time of year coat, her grandmother's furs and her material hat beside an human barb. As she said herself, she solely wore that expert spike once she was intuition exultant. Nonetheless she was in a introspective humor. Her height, her elegance, her fine-boned features were dandyish even in rest.

The ceremony was completed and she was readying on how to go on. She looked up at the dwelling next to her apartment connected at the haunch. The lights were previously on and the high temperature from enclosed most drew her in. Then she upside-down and looked fur at the woodlet. For a instant she thought at hand was change among the trees, but not being given to capricious reasoning she promptly fired the possible occurrence of a spectre. She had new things on her be concerned. She plan of her granddaughters in the leading fragment of the building and she well thought out the options.

She would jot the synopsis of a new book, she mental object. She would telephone it Divine Justice, or possibly Retribution. No, she deliberation. I will phone up it Revenge. I will ne'er have it published, but I will use it. My God, but I will tender it to him, and study him publication it, and past he'll cognize. I will ethnic group it next to sincere characters, and she ran done the schedule in her mind:

Millicent McHarg grandparent and author, set as Grammer to the children

Maria McHarg her daughter-in-law, best-known as Mum

Prunella McHarg first grandchild aged seventeen at the move into of the story, notable as Plumpet

Daphne McHarg midpoint grandchild senior 14 and legendary as Daffers

Maya McHarg youngest granddaughter, adopted, senior between cardinal and five, specified as the Dumpling

I'll let them report the story, Millicent approved. And I'll list Theresa Carmody. She can william tell her narration too.

It was highly sub-zero on the porch and the plan was forming nicely. The door from her lodging into the plot opened, and Waldorf appeared on the rung.

"Millie," he called, "are you truly seated out at hand in this weather? Is that truly you?"

"The one and only," she said, which scrutiny pretty markedly summed her up.

"I study I saw a ghost," he commented lightly, "down among the trees."

"I suggest not," said Millicent McHarg. "I uncertainty that a specter would dare to waver here."

"Too right," Waldorf replied. A large delicate joking man, a little bit elder than Millicent, he talked next to a plum tree in his mouth and was given to tiring a buttonhole, swingy an umbrella and speaking in riddles.

"I'm going in to the girls," he told her.

"I'll travel in a moment," she replied. "I'm only swing the finishing touches to a new narrative."

"I should regard you've through satisfactory for one day," he said dryly.

We'll see going on for that, she inspiration.

The door drawn behind Waldorf and she upraised her organizer. For a second she suggestion she could comprehend the glee of her granddaughters coming from the dwelling. She sighed, wise that she had not heard them utterance same that all Christmas, and that it would be a interminable circumstance in the past she could anticipation to perceive them guffaw close to that again.


I likely don't requirement to impart to you why this introduction plant so ably - but let's give something the onceover it in a lesser more point anyway.

  1. The prototypical paragraph introduces the friend - the girls' granny and the strongest part in the journal. In five sentences we get an unparalleled undergo of the form of female Millicent McHarg is.
  2. The 2nd written material makes it clear that this is a monumental minute for Millicent. It's after 'the funeral' (whose funeral?) and she is 'considering her options'.
  3. She decides to keep in touch a book, and the alias tells us instantly that she is set on revenge. We don't cognize yet why, or what she intends to do - but we in no doubt poorness to discovery out.
  4. She introduces the some other important characters and decides she will 'let them make clear to the story'. We grasp in real time that within is a decisive yarn to be told.
  5. Waldorf's mention and Millicent's retort ignite our inquisitiveness even more. Why does he say she's 'done plenty for one day'? And what does Millicent average once she thinks, We'll see about that?
  6. What has happened to this ethnic group to form Millicent mull over of revenge? Why haven't the girls laughed for so extensive - and why does she anticipate it will be whatever circumstance formerly they snigger again?

After the prologue, the saga begins: Chapter 1 - the legend of Prunella McHarg. We are sunny to close in and get to cognize all these characters - because this truncated introduction has secure us that they will be price effort to cognise.

A Final Test

Before you clear a closing mind going on for whether to author a prologue for your book, do this.

Spend some example at the library (or at your bookshelves at home, if they are extensive). Pluck books from the shelves, superficial for prologues. Read done at smallest a twelve. More if you can. The instance will be okay spent.

Which prologues worked well? Which force you into the story? Which skilfully distinct the backstory, deed it out of the way earlier the history started?

Which dragged? Which didn't demand to be near at all? Which were weighed fuzz by the mountain of the records they had to carry, and world-weary you? How could they be fixed?

Analysis of published manual labour is an brilliant way of determinative what industrial plant and what doesn't. You are a reader as fit as a writer; you cognise a lot in the order of what readers similar to. Make in no doubt you're a correspondent that gives your readers what they need, as powerfully as what you poorness.

(c) written document Marg McAlister

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