Prologues – What good do they do?

I enjoy reading and writing epic (or high) fantasy novels.  One of the common elements of that genre is a proclivity of prologues.  Here’s the thing though.  Prologues are a divisive subject in the writing world.  Some people hate them.  Some people love them.

Me?  Well, as with most things in life, it depends on the prologue.  If it fulfills its purpose, it’s good.  If it doesn’t it’s bad and shouldn’t really be in the book.  That’s not to say the information isn’t useful, just isn’t as important to the book.

So, what’s the purpose of a prologue?  I’ll tell you.

The purpose of a prologue (or even a first chapter sometimes) is to set the tone, make promises, and set the stage for the climax/theme of the story.

That’s it.   If a prologue doesn’t do that, it’s unnecessary.  I’ve included a couple examples below.

Successful Prologue(s):  

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Click to go to Amazon

Unsuccessful Prologue(s):

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What are your thoughts on prologues?  Are there more to add to these lists?  Let me know in the comments!

Read on!

Categories: Writing/Editing Tips | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Prologues – What good do they do?

  1. i don’t mind a good prologue. Sometimes it’s a necessity to set the scene or background to something that is better said then than later.

    • Kevin L. Nielsen

      Yep – as long as the prologue is good, it fulfills its purpose. If it’s just there for the sake of having a prologue, it doesn’t need to be present.

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