Can I just start by saying that 'prologue' is probably the most commonly misspelt word I have ever seen on Wattpad?
Like, I've seen prolouge. Proulog. Prologe. Proletarianised. Pringle.
You name it!
Now, as a reviewer and a reader, I never have problems with prologues/pringles/propaganda. If they're there, cool. If they're not there, also cool.
However, I know some people who are very anti-prologues/provinces/proliferous.
So, let's get into it! I'm going to break down this chapter into four sections:
- What is a prologue?
- What are the pros and cons of having one?
- When should you include a prologue?
- How do you make a prologue good?
So, let's get right into it!
What is a prologue/program/protest?
A prologue is basically a section of writing that comes before your 'first chapter'. Usually, what separates a prologue is that it feels separate to the story itself -- whether it is told from a different perspective, or is in a different time period, or even is just some exposition to explain the context of the story.
It can sometimes be a diary letter, a poem, or just some normal prose.
Most importantly: since it is basically the first thing your reader will read, it needs to be just as gripping as your first chapter.
What are the pros and cons of a prologue/prophet/procrastinate?
Well! Let's go through the pros first:
If done well, a prologue can:
- It can quickly set the tone you need for the story, before your reader even has to meet the protagonist.
- It can foreshadow events that happen later in the story, making that moment feel more satisfying.
- It can be unique and gripping, especially if you use a different format (such as a diary entry or a poem).
- Sometimes, it can help the writer introduce concepts that would, otherwise, be difficult to weave in through dialogue or an info-dump.
- It can quickly and efficiently introduce the conflict and questions.
- It can also quickly and efficiently introduce a protagonist or antagonist motivation.
- It can create direction or focus instantly.
- It can contrast the first chapter in a luring and enticing way.
- Some people love them.
And as for some cons:
- It can delay the start of the story.
- If not done well, can feel misplaced or awkward or even overwhelming.
- If not done well, can be confusing if it is never tied in well to the rest of the story.
- Some people hate them.
Obviously, there are probably more we can add to both lists! But, if we look at it now, it's like... well. Prologues clearly have more pros and cons. So should we all include prologues?
Really, you should only be using a prologue if it is purposeful. I have said this word about a million times now, but I mean it. Good writing is always purposeful. I should change this book title to 101 Writing Tips from a Purposeful Reviewer.
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