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To Prologue or not to Prologue

Since I’ve started writing Rise of the Sparrows I’ve come across different opinions on whether a prologue is necessary or not. A lot of opinions shout rather loudly that prologues shouldn’t be in a book and even ruin it. Others say the exact opposite, that a prologue can only make a story better. Of course there are a few voices in the middle, too, which say that a prologue can be good, as long as it adds something to the story.

I’m one of those people who are in between the two. I’ve read books with and without prologue and can’t say that I ever decided against buying a book because it had one, or because it didn’t.

With Rise of the Sparrows I’ve opted to include one, but it took me a while to decide for it. When I started writing the draft I didn’t have a prologue, and I’ve cut it several times, changed it and rewritten it entirely a couple of times, too. The one I’m leaving in doesn’t just set up Rise of the Sparrows but the whole trilogy, so I’d like to think that it’s not just there so I can have a prologue. The feedback from my beta readers confirms that I’ve made the right decision. It’s there for a reason. It fulfils a purpose other than my own vanity and it works for my readers.

Since opinions vary so greatly I thought I’d open it up for discussion! What do you think? Is a prologue a clear sign for you that the book isn’t worth your time, or do you not care as long as it adds (relevant and important) content? Have you ever decided against/for buying a book because it had a prologue – or lacked one? Let’s talk!


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  1. I’m lucky enough to be a beta reader for Rise of the Sparrows, and like I said to you, I’m not a great lover of prologues… however, yours was thoroughly intriguing. I like that there is another aspect to your story, that I’m not fully clued in on, yet. It’s implanted a seed that I want to germinate throughout the story 🙂

    • Thank you, that means a lot <3 I really battled with the decision to include and was prepared to take it out if my betas didn't like it, so I'm glad it's so well received!
      There'll be some hints here and there, but things will truly come to fruition when- Well, you'll see 😉

  2. I don’t mind a prologue as long as it tells me something which will eventually be relevant to the rest of the story and is gripping/interesting in itself. I think it all comes down to the individual story 🙂

    • I agree, it shouldn’t just be there so the writer can have a prologue. It needs to serve a purpose. It needs to earn its place!
      Thank you for your insights!

  3. I am never put off a book because it holds a prologue, nor do I ignore a book because it doesn’t have one. I can enjoy them if they build up the whole book and leaves me intrigued. If it’s just another chapter, then I am usually just left puzzled with the prologue title than anything else.

    • Mine sets up the first book as well as the whole trilogy, so I hope you’ll like that 😉

  4. V. Kathryn Evans V. Kathryn Evans

    Oooo I know!!! I had exactly this dilemma at the start of More of Me – in the end, I kept the prologue but I think you need a good reason. Mine was that I wanted people to know from the beginning that. despite the contemporary feel of the main body of the text, this was not an ordinary contemporary novel. It’s kind of a Shakesperian device – announcing the opening of a book and telling people where you are. The tone is different in the prologue – it’s creepy and weird – it flags up that parts of this book will be creepy and weird! Feedback has been really interesting – people who don’t normally read YA fiction, let alone YA with a splash of Sci-Fi, or people who just hate prologues, have said it almost put them off but they’re super glad they carried on reading because the book totally gripped them. Those used to reading “alternative” books – my actual YA readership, haven’t commented on it at all. I think it’s your book – do what you think is right, but be aware of why you’re doing it x

    • I really enjoyed yours, I think starting your story the way you did was brilliant and a great introduction. I’m glad you decided to keep it! 🙂 I’m sorry some of your readers were so put off by it. I don’t understand why some people hate all prologues, regardless of the contribution to the story. I’d like to think that mine is justified and feedback so far has been positive, but once it’s out there I’ll receive all kinds of opinions I’m sure! No one book is right for everyone. At least we’re trying 😉

  5. Prologues CAN be really great to set the tone, but I’m not a fan of ones that seem to have zero to do with the core of the story, or that only come back to things from the prologue 400 pages later. That said, I don’t base my buying on them (or their absence of them) at all. If it contributes, I say go for it!

    • I agree, and actually read one like that recently. It was really exciting and promised something very different to what I usually read, but the chapters after that were nothing at all like it. I felt quite let down by it.
      Oh I’m going for it! 🙂 I would only have cut it now if my betas had told me that it sucks but fortunately feedback has been much better than that 🙂

  6. Prologues are good for ‘setting the scene’; particularly in Fantasy/SF where you don’t want characters to break off on their narrative to tell each (or themselves) something about their world which should be common knowledge but needs to be explained to the reader.

    • That’s a very good point and a great addition. If a prologue can add something and prevent long-winded back story descriptions then that’s a plus!

  7. I personally have no preference if a story has a prologue or not. Your prologue I enjoy and personally I have one for my novel as well, but a prologue isn’t always necessary and sometimes it makes the story just a little more mysterious. I’ve found though that I prefer prologues in mysteries and fantasy novels then I do in just regular romance novels or the like however I do have the tendency of reading more novels with prologues then without. However(I seem to use this word a lot)I won’t discard a book and not read it because it does or does not have one.
    That’s just my opinion.

  8. I can go either way on the prologue debate. I think that yours is definitely an attention grabber and does well to introduce plot threads that will come into play later. My story currently has a prologue, but I might do away with the title and just call it Chapter 1 – my only reason for considering prologue was because it’s set ten years in the past. At the end of the day, a good story will tell itself whether it begins with a prologue or not 🙂

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