author C.C.Cole's blog

Saturday, September 21, 2013

On Prologue Preferences

"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"

Recently on social networking, a fellow writer suggested that authors avoid prologues.  I joined a few with respectful disagreement.  Some find prologues as wasteful with no reason to combine it with a rest of text.  Others find them distracting.  But many of us like them. 

I do understand the negatives of a prologue.  Especially in fiction, if it is a “Chapter one” then why is it not “Chapter one?”  We new authors want to avoid turning off readers before the story begins.   Prologues can be spoilers if not written carefully.  Who wants to see the hero/heroine dead or defeated before the story begins? 

Prologues shine the most in non-fiction and historic fiction as an appropriate place to describe the setting.  Sometimes prologues make me go back and research the history behind the story so I learn more about the background, which adds richness to the book.  I like films to open with a “prologue” even if the book lacked one; it’s an effective method often used to grip the viewer and reel them into the story. 

I think the use of prologues aligns with other writing tools that authors use by preference.  My readers know I like prologues, ellipses, and semicolons.  They also know dialogue and action drive the fast-moving plot.  Is it for everyone?  No.  Is it perfect?  No.  But that’s an advantage of being an Indie writer; we can make our work our own. 

Eccentricities belong to all creative people, with writers as a subgroup.  If we didn’t have preferences, our books would be the same, and what a boring place the world would be!  Writers, our work is our own; whether prologues, punctuation, or writing style, go for it.  Originality is what we are about.


  1. Good article. I am split about prologues. I have used them on only two occasions: once in book three of a series, and once in book one of another series. I think it's important to only use them when they push the story forward, and not just to get some interest in what would otherwise be a boring first chapter. My advice - think before you jump into a prologue. It can also bring the quality of the story down,

  2. Good points and thanks for the comment!