We knew that people hated prologues and sometimes never read them. We therefore inserted ours in the middle of our novel so it would be harder to ignore. And, at that point, we think readers are ready for a little context. They’re like, WTF is going on?!?
There’s an ongoing debate about prologues. Do you need them? Are they superfluous? Do they set up the story, or should you cut ’em and get to chapter one already?
Plenty of opinions exist, and many opinions have to do with taste. So, before we jump on the “prologues never contribute to the story” bandwagon, I think the first step is to identify what kind of prologue one is writing and the objective of that prologue. We need to know what we’re writing and why, before we let the opinions of what’s “in vogue” influence our writing decisions.
Let’s take a look at four different kinds of prologues.
1) Future Protagonist
This prologue is written in the same voice and style as the main story and from the POV of the same protagonist. When done really well, this kind of prologue changes everything the reader thought. As the reader continues with the story…
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“It is significant that in Homer the smith of the gods is lame, and the poet among men is blind. That may be how the thing began. The defectives, who are no use as hunters or warriors, may be set aside to provide both necessaries and recreation for those who are.”
– C.S. Lewis, “Good Work and Good Works.”
Inspiration. That is all.