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11

A prologue is pro, before, the logos, word. It's text before the main body of the text. Whether a work needs a prologue is entirely up to the author. There is no right or wrong way to write one. There is no right or wrong content. It can serve as an introduction, a teaser, a flashback, background material, a recap, or anything else the author thinks might ...


8

I think that a properly used prologue can be an incredibly powerful tool. The Wheel of Time series begins with a prologue for every book - some of them are great, some you pretty much just have to plow through as fast as possible to get to the main story (they're info-dumps). However, I think that the best prologue I've ever read is for The Eye of the World ...


6

Usually a prologue is outside the main flow of the story in some way: Tease with an out-of-sequence scene. The prologue might tease us by previewing a pivotal scene that will occur later in the main storyline. Often this is a snippet of the climax. Give context through a different viewpoint. A prologue might put the story into a wider context by offering a ...


6

I agree with Lauren's answer: A prologue is anything before the main body of a text, and can be whatever the author wants it to be. What matters is that it reads well. However, in my experience, an introduction, preface, or forward is usually written in the writer's or editor's voice; prologues are usually (but not always) part of the novel's story. All ...


4

Middle-grade targeted or not, I think backstory should be exposed gradually. I can remember kids (and not-so-kids) complain about a long piece of text without dialogue. At some age of one's reading career, one realizes that's where many interesting things happen (or else that one doesn't like reading), and then complains about too long descriptions and ...


4

Orson Scott Card has discussed, in several places, how prologues (particularly to fantasy epics) tend to be dull, disembodied history lessons. For example, from an interview: The most common mistakes come in picking where and how to begin their story. Too many people believe that old canard about plunging into the middle of the action: in medias res, the ...


4

I would use a prologue when: trying to bring up to speed readers who haven't read previous books in a series, while staying out of the way of the real beginning of the book for those who have been following the series all along offering context that would be of most interest on second and subsequent readings, but not important to the sort of surface ...


3

Say you write a story about an employee of Best Buy who accidentally kills his girlfriend by pushing her off a cliff whilst the two of them are dancing about like idiots stoned out of their gourd. Would you really expect Best Buy to sue you because you painted a picture of a Best Buy employee getting stoned and committing manslaughter? The disclaimer is ...


3

You need to start the story with a hook, something to get interest started, the hook can be in the prologue, but seldom is, and once hooked switching on your reader tickes them off. Does the prologue draw people into your narrative? If it does then it is fine, otherwise It should be less than 3/4 page and in a different font so that a bored reader will know ...


2

When a prologue is used if Fantasy, Science Fiction, or Historical novels it's common to show some of the historical, cultural, or political background leading up to the action.


1

As I read your question, I couldn't help but think back to the time I first read Harry Potter and the philosopher's stone. I was in grade 2 and I don't remember if there was a prologue or not, however, the introduction to Harry's world felt like a prologue (or it wouldn't have been a problem if it was in this particular book). If your story has an unusual ...


1

I don't know about your prologue, but as a reader I seriously despise prologues that don't feature the protagonists, for two reasons: I read novels, because I am interested what happens to the protagnonists that I identify with and care about. When I alread know what and who the novel is about, I don't care about "what went before" but befell someone else. ...


1

One Monkey and Shan are right, that there are tons of novels/movies where entities like the CIA are the bad guys. Unlikely that someone will sue you, or even can. Right of free expression and stuff like that. But, because both gave the advice "write what you like and only care about the individuals", I have to step in. That could be bad advice. Especially ...


1

Most big organisations like the CIA, NSA, if they were to sue anyone who wrote anything bad about them, would have to spend their entire yearly budget every month just suing people. Besides, in a democracy, they can't really silence you unless you are writing something that affects national security, and in many cases, not even then. As @One Monkey mentions, ...


1

Prologues are all about "laying pipe:" explaining the back story and how the novel's world works. However, if you read agents' blogs, you can see that agents are very anti-prologue these days, so I always advise writers to get right into the story and reveal back story and rules of the world slowly, over time. Of course this is easier said than done. ...



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