Oh, Prologues

You know prologues, don’t you, Squiders? They lurk at the very beginning of some books, being all secretive and yet revealing at the same time. And then the first chapter starts and you have no idea what’s happening and who those people were and how anything ties together.

Prologues have long been a fantasy staple. Often they reveal events from the past that will eventually lead to the events happening in the main body of the book. Sometimes they reveal the inciting event by the antagonist.

What I find interesting about prologues is that they seem to be something that authors do when they’re newer, and then, as they become more experienced, they stop using them.

In fact, it seems like prologues as a whole are passe. I read a quote from some author somewhere (I am terrible at linking quotes to people–sorry!) that essentially said something like “If your prologue includes important information, it should be in the narrative, and if it doesn’t, why is it there?”

I find them a little jarring myself, honestly. They normally involve characters who we may never see again, or at least not for quite some time, so I find it confusing to switch to the viewpoint character in chapter one. And often the information given doesn’t become relevant for quite some time, or I have information that the main character doesn’t, and it causes a weird disconnect in the narrative.

That’s not to say that prologues can’t be done well, but most of them do seem to be a little superfluous.

Hey, I used to do them too. The first draft of Shards even had an artsy one that I still kind of like, though it wasn’t adding enough value to be kept in the final version. (Though I might share if you ask nicely. It’s not very long.) And I do think they’re kind of helpful from a writing standpoint, because it can help you flesh out background events so your actual narrative is stronger and more rounded.

What are your feelings on the subject, Squiders? Yea or nay? Which prologues have you really liked?

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