Leave this out when you are writing a book.

I decided to try a new author this weekend and sadly, the experience didn't go well, but I was reminded of something that my editor warned me of many years ago that I thought I might pass along to anyone who might be writing now.

Don't include a prologue.

Now, at the time, my editor didn't give a specific reason why she didn't like prologues. Just that she didn't. I had submitted a book that included one and in the end, the prologue quite easily ended up in the trash bin.

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Too often prologues are a writer's lazy way of providing the reader with information that we think is important but we don't want to try to shoehorn it into the manuscript. The end result is that the reader, if they are polite enough to start with the prologue rather than jump to the first chapter, is now stuck with a massiveinformation dump. The prologue rarely shows character development or interesting plot arc. No, the writer is jumpunloading either character back story or world building.

In the end, it is a very weak way to start a book and leaves the reader gagging a bit from being force-fed so much information,

My advice:

1. Is this information in the prologue crucial to understanding what's happening in the book? No? Then cut it. It will make your book more nimble and your reader will thank you for it, allowing them to jump right into the action.

2. If it is crucial to understanding everything, then try weaving that information throughout the book. Learning about a character or world should be part of the journey. You don't need all that information at once.

3. If the prologue contains significant action, then why isn't it the first chapter?

Now, that's not to say that all prologues are bad. I've read several that work.Some key things that I've notice include the fact that they are usually very short. Another thing is that they we're usually a brief but powerful action scene. Those leave you absolutely needing to turn the page to start the book. Also, those scenes either feature someone other than the focus of the book or there is a significant time difference between the prologue and the first chapter (either the prologue is way in the past or the future). Another technique I've seen work is when the prologue narrator is different from the narrator of the rest of the book.

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Posted in Internet Post Date 07/05/2016