And if you can’t tell, I’m making up for all the time I’ve missed using GIFs. You’re welcome.
Anyway, to kick off my return, I’m here today with a writing tip post on prologues! I’ve worked with a lot of teen writers over the past almost two years
side note: HOW are we coming up on almost two years? It feels like TWN just started up last month XD. If there’s one common thing I see among newer authors (and even seasoned-pros) it’s the use of a prologue. Sometimes they’re added and it’s awesome. But most times, it needs to be cut. I’m not one of those writers who think prologues need to be cut all the time, but there are some instances where they’re used that they just need to be chopped out. The opening of your story is SO important. You have such a short space to hook your reader and convince him/her that this story needs to be completed. Think of it like this: let’s say a reader is considering your novel, but he/she will only read your first five pages. If you’ve hooked your reader at the end of it, that reader will buy it and read it. But if you haven’t, the reader will move on to another book.
Wow, that’s harsh, and pretty tough. However, I use this example because in reality, that’s what happens.
Like. All. The. Time.
So it’s highly crucial you start your story off at the best place with the strongest beginning you can! So, before you include a prologue ask yourself these three questions that’ll help you determine if you should keep it or…
#1 Are You Info-Dumping In Your Prologue?
While this might seem pretty obvious, it’s actually… not.
yeah, not sure any better way to put that. So what exactly IS info-dumping in your prologue? It’s when you use your prologue as a space to give the reader alllll this background information, maybe about your world or your characters previous lives or just any information at all. And your dumping this all on us. Anytime you info-dump, whether it’s in the first chapter, prologue, etc., is bad. It bogs down the story and can bore your reader. We need to be gripped immediately into the story and have the excitement and interest carry through for the rest of the book. So if it’s not vital information, your reader NEEDS to know right at this moment, cut it. This is often why writers are discouraged from using a prologue, because often, writers use it to info-dump. You might think the reader will like to be explained about everything, but in reality, we really enjoy figuring out the world and backstory of characters while we’re reading. Not before it. So take a look at your prologue. Are you info-dumping? Anywhere at all? Let’s consider chopping it out!
Note: I have often written an info-dumping prologue for a lot of my WIPs. However, this is usually so I can get a grasp of my world and story, and then it’s always cut when I move on to second draft. So if you have one because it’s your first draft and you wanted to write it, I do this all the time and it’s okay!!! This is just something you’ll want to cut when it’s time for rewrites and edits!
#2 Does It Introduce a Character that Isn’t the Protagonist?
I can’t tell you how many times I see new authors do this, think it’s gonna be awesome, and then completely miss why it’s not. Let’s be honest, I’ve done it myself. It’s just fun to write y’all. But this is a very risky way to begin your prologue. Your book’s opening is kind of like your contract with the reader. That’s why you introduce your theme and have your inciting incident all within those first couple of chapters. You’re promising your readers that this book will be an exciting, gripping read about perseverance and friendship. Or a slow, contemporary read about family and hope. Etc. That’s why this is a risky beginning. You want to spend your opening introducing the readers to the main character. Remember that limited space I talk about earlier to hook your readers. You want to spend all of that time telling them why they should love YOUR protagonist, why they should follow them through this journey and root for them. Don’t make your reader fall in love with another character only to disappoint them when they realize, this isn’t who’ll they’ll be following. While there are books that have done this and done it well, it’s not something I would recommend doing often. Start the book where it effects your protagonist the most.
#3 Does It Give a “False Hook”?
Like everything with writing, there are ALWAYS exceptions to the rule. Sometimes these instances work, but most of the time they don’t. So continue with caution. Are prologues entirely bad? Of course not! I’ve written and read novels with amazing prologues, they’re just not commonly used because they’re not needed most of the time. When it doubt, it’s best to cut or seek advice from a trusted beta reader or writing friend.
Chat with me!
So does your WIP have a prologue? How do you feel about prologues in books, enjoy them or not? What book has the best prologue you’ve ever read? Which of these three instances discussed above annoy you the most in fiction? (It’s number one for me. Info-dumping always bugs me. 😉 ) Who’s happy I’m back to TWN? *raises hand*
Until the next post,
Keep on being awesome and never stop writing,