To prologue or not to prologue
Do you skip reading the prologue?
I sincerely want to know. I’ve always been a huge fan of reading a prologue, especially in fantasy books. From an early age, I love the side-eye a prologue gives the main plot. Hey you, it seems to say, I’ve got something mysterious to declare! I might even hint at something cool and intentionally epic from long ago to connect you to what you’re about to read.
Love it. Wanna marry it.
But apparently not everyone feels the same way. Nathan Bransford – writing guru, author and unbeknownst to him, my go-to blog mentor from way back – suggested I read this post from Kristen Lamb to get an insight into the do’s and don’ts of including a prologue: The Seven Deadly Sins of Prologues
I have to say I perused the entire article justifying the brief prologue I’ve included in Book 2 of the series I’m currently writing. Why? It falls into the ‘resolve a time gap’ reason to be kept and it’s written well and its short and I like it okay!
But seriously, reading the sins did make me wonder whether I should just turn that pesky prologue into the first chapter instead. My thoughts about my current prologue in a nutshell (without writing it all out here):
- It swiftly enters the main character’s headspace three months after the previous book’s action
- It anchors the reader in a setting without lengthy details
- It’s active and doesn’t have unnecessary backstory
- It quickly points out this character has something to hide before we learn about his new ‘normal’
- It’s a private moment between the reader and the character, away from the main narrative we’re about to embark on
Reading these points, I can clearly see all this could be achieved in the first chapter instead. But I still want to have a prologue (stamps foot and shakes tiny toddler tantrum fist). 😤👊🏼😡
The way I see it, prologue-intolerants don’t have a foot to stand on. Like breakfast, a well-written prologue can be the most important meal of the day. Skipping it could leave you brain-fogged, cranky and confused later in the novel. Better just to throw it down at the beginning and get on with the rest of your day/reading.
I have to admit though, I did start this second book many times, in many different ways. The challenge of overcoming a time gap of about three months meant a lot had happened. Also, I was entering – and introducing the reader to – a very different headspace, much changed by recent events. Perhaps, my logical Spock-brain insists, the prologue can in this case be a bridge between the somewhat ‘happy for now’ conclusion to the first book and what will be a deep and somewhat dark internal struggle in the second.
Hmmmm, can’t decide. That’s a lie. I’m keeping it.