There are writers who write and then there are writers who spout out rule after writing rule on social media. You can’t do this, you can’t do that. I hate this, I don’t like that. There seems to be an endless list of what we should and shouldn’t do, but in all honesty, a story comes out of you the way YOU write it, not the way it is dictated by some select writers’ preferences. And prologues are on that list of “nay”.
Preferences are personal, and let’s face it, you can’t please everyone. How tiresome would that be to ensure that everyone is happy with what you do. You would never rest and you wouldn’t be doing yourself any favors.
That being said, although I write to escape the reality of this world, I do want my readers to enjoy my stories. Naturally, I pay attention to how times and writing rules have changed. Long descriptions aren’t everyone’s thing anymore, not like it used to. I love to read long, detailed descriptions and I’m usually thrown off by a plot that is so fast-paced that I don’t remember how the characters got from point A to point B.
However, a fast pace is what is more popular now, and so I combine it with what I like, adapting to the times, but still keeping my stories as part of me. As a writer you cannot and must not lose your writing identity.
Prologues, Yay or Nay?
I have no rule about that. My only rule is: do what you feel comfortable doing. Do what you feel is right for the story. If your book has no need for a prologue, then skip it.
If a prologue is necessary, if it can reveal some important information or an intriguing prelude to the described events, then by all means, go for it.
I’ve read fascinating prologues but also long winded and boring ones that felt superfluous. I think that the latter are the reason why so many writers oppose prologues and basically skip them when they read a book. I do feel, though, that a well-written prologue can catch a reader’s attention, if it’s relevant, if it is an integral part of the story.
Sometimes, prologues are so eloquent and gripping that you simply must continue reading. So, a lot depends on what you include in your prologues – and also what you delete.
Knowing that some people frown on prologues, make sure that only what’s absolutely needed is included. Your prologue is your introduction to the reader, so make it appealing, make your reader want more.
You could do more research, of course, and read all kinds of explanations why a prologue must be ommitted or when you can include it, but at the end of the day, the only person who can write your book is you.
The rules that matter are grammar and spelling, sentence structure, and fluency, but when it comes to your story, it is YOUR story and no one should tell you how to write YOUR book.
My Upcoming Release
The story I’m working on right now is about a villain. All my life, my main characters have been battling dark forces, they were never a part of the dark. A little over ten years ago I created an antagonist who seemed to deserve her own book. Back then, I didn’t think I should write a book about her.
Giada (pronounced Jaa-duh) – the antagonist and a vampire – first appeared in Aurélie – Survival
Some friends who read Aurélie remarked on how interesting Giada was and how she even evoked some sympathy in them. One friend mentioned that he would love to read more about her, and so I started thinking about a book.
Suddenly, I remembered that I had written a prologue for her book about five or six years ago, and then just dropped it, forgotten all about Giada’s story. So, I opened that old document that was stored on my USB, read the prologue, made some corrections, and started writing the first chapters.
Gaida’s Prologue. Yay or Nay?
So, here’s an excerpt of her book. Here’s the controversial part of the book that gets so much attention in Twitter discussions. The dreaded prologue … Do you hear the drum in the background, announcing an “unpleasant” experience? Well, could you do me a favor and read this prologue? If it’s not too much to ask, would you tell me your honest thoughts in the comments below?
(The following excerpt has copyright)
Thank you very much!
Prologue to my New Release
Giada’s Story (Title hasn’t been decided yet)
The gentle breeze rustled the golden autumn leaves in the trees. Many of them had already withered and died; and the wind carried them slowly but deliberately down to the cold forest ground, covering it in thick layers of brown, auburn, and golden leaves.
Such a peaceful scene in mid fall … it could inspire any artist to bring this life to canvass, capture the striking colors forever, to be beheld by anyone who wished to look upon this beauty.
The late afternoon sun was shyly moving away, getting ready to sink in the horizon, shedding her honey and rose shadow over the thin clouds in the sky, illuminating it before darkness would ask for permission to enter.
Nevertheless, here, on these grounds, the night did not need permission to set. In fact, it was more than welcome here.
Indeed, the beautiful scene was only appealing to the eye; but on closer view, one could see that this part of the forest was devoid of life, except for the trees and plants that had found a way to live with the fiend lying in wait below.
The sound of happily chirping birds was absent. No deer visited these parts, no boars: no animals at all; not even insects dared to zoom over the colorful carpet of leaves. It had been a long time since mosquitoes had clustered in groups here at dusk. Even flies wisely stayed away; and also bats knew better than to hunt here. First, there was nothing to catch, and they were well aware of the threat below them. It wasn’t worth the risk.
The occasional traveling bird or cricket or some wandering ants did wind up here once in a while, but they never survived to tell the tale.
People had not come here in two hundred years – this area lay off the beaten path. Luckily, it was not part of the confusing hiking map that local tourist shops offered on sale.
For deep below the thick carpet of leaves it lay waiting, had been there for centuries, patiently awaiting a chance, knowing that one day it would come … one day …
It didn’t breathe, and it was shriveled and dry; but a tiny thread of life remained in this shrunken, black thing, stubbornly holding out for an opportunity to rise again. It had survived on worms, ants, beetles, crickets, spiders, and also bats, and birds. When the unsuspecting animal got too close, it beckoned them, forcing its victim to approach without a will to resist. Then it sucked them in, and they disappeared into the eye, the shriveled, blackened, ancient, and moldy eye, giving it life, but not enough to grow.
It was patient. The right victim would arrive one day.
But the animals were clever, and they soon realized what horror was lurking in the forest ground. They avoided this cursed part; and consequently the eye withered and dried, holding on to its last embers of life.
Challenges had never encumbered it. On the contrary, it thrived on them. Patience and endurance was all it took; patience and endurance. If it had to wait another two hundred, or even a thousand years, it would do so. One day it would live again, and when that day came, vengeance was all hers.
Thirst for revenge kept the eye alert, ever awaiting the one victim that could provide it with enough blood, enough to rise again and become the monster it had once been. Even the lack of available blood did not discourage it from its goal. It would find the craved life fluid; it would find sustenance; it would grow and come back from the dead; and it would punish the one who had killed it.
The eye’s ever growing threat became so great that even stray animals passing through these woods would pick up the looming danger, and soon the eye was left with no sustenance at all, no victims, and no blood. It shriveled away once more, for the first time fearing that there was no hope to resuscitate. It blackened and dried and began to look like an ordinary rock that had been discarded in the high grass.
The eye still waited, but there was nothing to wait for anymore. It would soon enter the sleep of the millennia, forever forgotten. Anger consumed it, and it cursed the one who had separated it from its owner, the one who had killed the immortal it had belonged to, the same immortal whose essence still coursed through this shriveled eye, however faintly.
One day it felt the sound of footsteps on the ground and it rejoiced. Blood was coming. It waited patiently as the footsteps approached and then stopped nearby. Dry grass was swept out of the way. Someone was searching.
A sharp intake of breath.
A triumphant smile.
Then a hand closed around the eye.
Thank you for sticking with me and reading this complete post and prologue 😉
I would love to know your thoughts about prologues, whether you like or don’t like them, don’t care either way, and if you liked this prologue for Giada’s story. Would it make you want to read more?
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16 thoughts on “Should I Write a Prologue? My Prologue for my Upcoming Release”
Thanks for your great article and its a privilege to be able to read your prologue. Personally I like backstories, prequels and sequels in books and movies. They make the audience think, try to connect the characters and get engaged more.
For your prologue, I like it. You create great scenery and feelings in the opening and the transition to the dead forest and the eye. The descriptives of the dead scenery there and animals avoiding it are good. Then as a reader you wonder what will happen when that first person comes in and puts their hand around the eye. I definitely want to read what happens next. Given you’ve achieved that with me, the prologue is successful and I wouldn’t change it. Well done! John
Thank you, John! It means a lot to me to hear this 🙂
It’s easy to see that you’re an excellent writer. I admire the way you approach your work. Go with what feels right, don’t feel like you have to stick to a set of rules. Thank you for sharing this prologue as well!
Thank you, Eric!
I loved prologues, so long as they are relevant to the story. I agree with you about a well-written prologue catching a reader’s attention, and many of them are a book within themselves. I often read them to find out if the book will answer my needs, questions or is exciting, inspiring. I think you know what I mean.
I love the title “Grada’s story” I know you said you wanted to find a suitable title, but it’s so simple and memorable.
Writing a prologue for your upcoming release will help the potential reader to decide whether to buy the book or read it online so long as it is not long-winded and is relevant.
I think a persons attention span these days is not as long. If you decide to write the prologue, I feel it needs to be succinct and to the point.
I wish you all the best.
You brought up some good points, and I agree with all of them. Thanks for your thoughts!
I’m just not sure yet about the title 😉
When I wrote my book “Manager To Leader”, I didn’t write a prologue. But, then again my book is a non-fiction book about leadership, and I haven’t seen any prologues in similar books to mine.
But, after reading your prologue, I would put it in to your book because it is very powerful. I love the topic of your book, especially when you study real life prisoners and villains. Your research on this topic is amazing and I can feel the passion coming out of your words in your prologue. So, in my opinion I would definitely put it into your book. I
I hope that helps.
Thank you for sharing and keep up the great work.
All the best,
Thank you, Tom! I appreciate your thoughts. I’m glad you liked my prologue 🙂
First off, the prologue was really good. Yes, I would read more if it was a book I was scrolling through in the book store. Vampires are always my favorite to read about, though I will admit, I like the grown up versions more than the teenager or teeny bopper versions.
As far as the rules of writing, I have to agree. It’s hard when you’re a writer and people are always criticizing what you can and can’t do. I especially am not a fan of the books that are too quick a read, and there’s simply no details when painting the picture for readers.
I started writing a book myself, though I have to admit, it’s been about 3 months since I’ve added anything new to it. And I think it’s because I asked, not a friend, but rather an acquaintance one day to read my book so far and give me some feedback. I’m not sure why I chose this person, as they annoy me and I find that I make excuses to not be around this person. But of course, in one night of drinking too much, I thought maybe this person would read my book for me.
Not even a couple of days passed and I asked what they thought of it. The response I received was, “I don’t like your details. I just want to get to the story. Why did you even describe the make of the car in the parking lot? Who cares, just say a car next time. Honestly, I’m not going to read it, I don’t like details in my books.”
First off, if there are no details, say for example the type of car and I simply said, “car”, that doesn’t say anything. It could be a rabbit car, it could be a sports car, what kind of car? How, as the reader, are you supposed to paint a picture in your head with no details?? I don’t get it. I wasn’t trying to be Stephen King here, who paints the picture in 3 pages of details. It was a paragraph. A paragraph!
Needless to say, I think deep down it caused me to doubt the success of the book because of one person whom I actually don’t like. And, frankly, embarrassed that I even sent it to her now.
As I’m reading this though, now I’m determined to finish it, regardless of this person’s awful personality and review of the first page of my book. If it’s successful, awesome. If not, try again I suppose.
Sorry that I went off on a tangent there. Your prologue is great and you should keep writing. As for the rules, if the book is well written, and you don’t have mistakes in spelling (that is something that bothers me as a reader, I will admit) then go for it! So many different people are in this world, and no two people will read the book the same. But getting your imagination out there, and telling your story, that’s what’s important at the end of the day. To me anyway.
Thank you for sharing this, I’d be interested in this book when it’s published, for sure. 🙂
This one person who judged your book is not enough to form an opinion. It would be better to get a professional beta reader or ask several people you know to read it.
I would describe the car too, and one paragraph is not too much. You have to know if the main character is using a van, a pick up truck, a VW, or a small car, right? It makes sense to add some detail. Not like Stephen King, not sure why he is allowed to get away with these page-long descriptions when most people frown upon it, but I guess it’s Stephen King. His reputation excuses the endless descriptions 🙂 I love his older books, though 🙂
Only you can write your story, so please continue writing. We also have to find the right beta readers. A good beta reader will point out the good and the bad, but remain professional. A good beta reader would never trash a writer’s work. Trust me, I once chose 2 beta readers who were completely wrong for the genre and they did not remain professional, they trashed my work and made me feel awful for days. After I got over it I realized that I should have stuck with the professional beta reader I usually use. She points out details and raises questions about things that may appear unclear, and she gives her honest and professional opinion.
I suggest that you do the same. If you do not know how to find a beta reader, let me know and I can help you.
Thank you for bringing my confidence back. I have read so many of this type of content in which authors suggest do this and do that. But I was starting to become distressed because occasionally their suggestions would contradict what other authors suggested. So, I’ll just do what I feel comfortable with. Thanks!
I understand you! I see so many writers argue online about how to write your book, and guidelines here and there and everywhere, and often contradicting each other. And they like this but hate that, want this but don’t want that …
No one else can write your book, so write it the way you feel comfortable with.
Wishing you all the best!
I always read the prologue for any book because I don’t want to miss something that the author tried to create, especially when I read novels. Every detail counts. It’s true, as you mentioned, there were some tedious ones, but it doesn’t affect me much about the fun of reading.
As for your prologue, you did a good job. I love how you intrigued people with the description of a hell-like forest and the thirst for blood from the evil eye. I think they are a good start to make people want to read more. I like it. 🙂
Thank you very much! I’m glad that you and others are still in favor of prologues. And I’m happy that you like mine 🙂
A prologue sets up a reader for what to expect, and a book without one would seem a bit abrupt. You see, we are all so used to reading prologues.
I have myself written three books, and my prologues were most often commented upon, as that is the real thought behind the book. It’s important for the author to talk to his/her readers.
I love your story-line.
Love, as always
Thank you, Aparna! I’m happy you agree. 🙂