Why use a prologue when starting to tell a story? Obviously it’s used mainly so the author can introduce readers to something that happens before the start of the story…maybe some background details, setting up a foreshadowing of future events, a pointer or two.
One of the hardest things to decide when writing a novel is where to begin. Usually I like to get stuck straight in to the action. Of my eight novels published so far, I’ve only used a prologue twice.
Carved in Stone was the third book of the Starling Hill Trilogy and the beta readers thought a recap was needed as it was released eight months after the second book. But was a prologue strictly necessary? For readers who had read the first two books (and have good memories), it probably seemed like a tedious information dump that they could skip. (I did try to keep it as short as possible.)
In Running From Love, I used the prologue to introduce the two main characters …one who wants a divorce and the other who isn’t happy about it. I thought this was needed to give readers an early insight into the parting couple’s relationship. Then in part one, I take the reader back six months to show why they are getting a divorce. (An author’s prerogative…messing with timelines!)
I didn’t have a prologue in mind when I started writing Deuce (my next novel, due out on 1 February). But the character, Charlotte, only appears in person in the second part of the story and I thought readers might need some clue that this was going to happen…and why. Also Charlotte has a first person point of view, whereas all the other characters with a POV are third person. (Another author’s prerogative…messing with narrative points of view!)
So, after the book’s release, it will be an anxious wait to see what readers think…not only about the prologue…but also about the shifts from third to first person in the second part of the story.
And then there’s the question of epilogues…a topic for another blog.
Check out my books page for descriptions and links.
I have used prologues and epilogues in the past, but honestly I never know if that is really the right thing to do!