I once heard a writing instructor say he never reads a prologue. He was of the opinion that anything written in a prologue was unnecessary and a writer should say what they want to say in the first chapter.
I’ve heard others say the same thing, but I beg to differ. If a book contains a prologue, I figure is there for a reason. Therefore, I read it.
Somewhere along the way, prologues became evil. Some critique groups claim editors hate them, therefore they encourage writers not to use them.
But guess what? If the situation calls for it, I’ll write a prologue. Then again, I’m the writer who vowed I would one day use the line about a dark and stormy night, and did. Seriously, there are valid reasons for writing a prologue. Among them are:
- A scene/event that takes place in an earlier time from the story
- Hooking the reader with an unsolved mystery
- Told from the point of view of the antagonist
A prologue should never be used as an info dump or for the mere purpose of backstory. To use one for this purpose (or even if done in the first chapter) you’ll lose the reader. In my opinion, it’s better to gradually reveal information about your main character. Give the readers little snippets that will make them want to learn more.
There are no hard and fast rules on the pros and cons of using prologues. You’ll probably find an equal number of writers, editors, and readers who love them as well as hate them. But until they are forbidden, if the situation calls for it, I’ll keep writing prologues.
What about you? Do you read prologues? Write them?