Chat Between Chapters: Prologues

February 21, 2016 Chat Between Chapters, Featured Posts 18


 Let’s chat about prologues. What do you think of them? Do they add to the story, or do they feel like just another chapter?

Julie Review Avatar Julie:

I’m seeing prologues being used to tell a little bit of the story from before the current timeline. I think that works well so that a chapter doesn’t feel out of place. But it has to be quite a bit before. But if a book already has flashbacks to reveal something you haven’t read about yet, then is a prologue really any different than another chapter? In that case, no, it isn’t and so why bother calling it a prologue and not just Chapter 1? I feel prologues and epilogues have similar issues.



I like prologues over a cold open. Sometimes, I feel like the story starts in the middle, and I’m forced to figure out how the heck we got here. And if I have to struggle to figure out what’s going on, I’m likely to stop reading. Prologues are good at giving us some background into the characters. I also like the way authors like Clive Cussler set up the story with a prologue. As these stories are usually to solve a mystery of a missing ship (or car, or train, etc), I like knowing what happened to that ship at it’s end. And then the buildup to solve the mystery in the rest of the story.

How about everyone else? Pro prologues? Or anti prologues? 

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18 Responses to “Chat Between Chapters: Prologues”

  1. Tanya @ Mom's Small Victories

    I don’t mind prologues but often wonder why it’s just not a chapter even if it does take part far in advance of main story. It’s still part of what got the characters to where they are. Semantics to me whether it’s called a prologue or a chapter.

    • Julie

      Yes, Confess has a great Prologue, and it just starts you off with a twig in your eye with that book.

  2. Charlie @ Girl of 1000 Wonders

    I generally like prologues – if they are used correctly. If they are essentially just another chapter, there’s no point to label it as a prologue. I’ve also seen some prologues trying to give insight into what will come but they fail miserably and just make things much more confusing (usually with “epic” fantasies). Like Kimber, I’ve also seen much more frequently to summarize the previous book, and I don’t like that.

    • Julie

      Agree, they do need to be used correctly and not just as another chapter. Or an excerpt that’s in the book later, I’ve seen that!

  3. Greg

    I like prologues generally, if done well they add a certain something. I certainly don’t think all books need them, but again if done well- and the author can switch it up with perspective or a one time POV or whatever. Same with epilogues- I like seeing what happens after the story ends, or down the road after time has passed.
    Greg recently posted…Sunday Post #130

    • Julie

      I like that point, switching POV or something different from the rest of the book makes a good prologue.

  4. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I like prologues. I see Julie’s point about prologues in books that flash back anyway, but I feel like sometimes the prologue just gives you certain information that you wouldn’t start off with otherwise – a pivotal scene from the past that shapes the rest of the book. In this case, I think it still works.
    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction recently posted…After the Woods by Kim Savage – Traveling ARC Review, Favorite Quotes and Giveaway!

    • Julie

      Yes, it does help to have some information we wouldn’t have otherwise, so if a prologue is the right place to do it- then it is used properly 🙂

      • Terri M.

        Airborn by Kenneth Oppel is the book I’m listening to. It’s a re-read for me.

        Agatha H and the Airship City by Phil Foglio, Kaja Foglio is the one I’m physically reading.

        Both of them have a steampunk/historical fiction feel. I dream of cosplaying Kate from Airborn.
        Terri M. recently posted…A Recipe for Something I’ve Already Tried

  5. Terri M., the Director

    I just started reading a book and listening to another that had prologues. They worked quite nicely to get the story started. In the book I’m reading, the prologue was used to make two characters disappear that had a connection to the main character in the book. In the one I’m listening to, the prologue was used to create a bit of mystery and connection for the two main characters when they finally run into each other.
    Terri M., the Director recently posted…Scenic Sundays | May All Your Dreams Come True

  6. Kimber Leigh Wheaton

    I’ve been seeing prologues used lately to summarize the previous book in a series. I don’t like that much. The needed info should be sprinkled into the first few chapters to subtly remind readers what happened previously. It’s hard to do but worth it for the reader. I used a prologue in my latest release. First time I’ve used one. The prologue was in third person while the rest of the book was in first. It was there to provide insight into the haunting my characters were about to investigate. In reviews I’ve noticed that most people like it but a few didn’t. I thought about removing it prior to publication, but my beta readers and editor loved it so it stayed.
    Kimber Leigh Wheaton recently posted…The Spirit Chaser by Kay Mayor – Excerpt & Giveaway

    • Julie

      Yea, see, a prologue is not the place for a summary. I agree that subtle reminders should be in the first few chapters.

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