To prologue or not prologue, that is the question.
Keep the prologue.
Cut the prologue.
Keep the prologue.
Cut the prologue.
— Chris Travis (@ChrisTravisNYC) October 29, 2018
Agents and editors don’t hate prologues, they hate BAD prologues. It’s hard to write a good prologue, one that doesn’t reveal too much, or feel like a bait and switch.
A lot of writers have been asking me lately why I dislike prologues. I think they are fine when done right.
Your prologue shouldn’t wipe the stakes away from your story. IE: “Looking back, things were tough but turned out okay.”
So.. I guess I don’t need to read this book then?
— Eric Smith (@ericsmithrocks) June 27, 2018
I think prologue can be very effective in epic fantasy for exactly that reason — it lets you provide huge stakes and then focus in on something tighter. But ‘the main character dies’ prologues are hard to do well without feeling like a cheat.
— Connor Goldsmith (@dreamoforgonon) January 4, 2019
But such a feat is a mastery of craft and not easily accomplished. If you can write a great prologue and it works well to launch the story, wonderful! If it’s not achieving those goals, consider scrapping it. 4/?
— JenniferMarchSoloway (@marchsoloway) December 7, 2018
Ask yourself: is the prologue is really necessary? Too many potential good books are bogged down with prologues that take away from the excitement of the first chapter.
It’s not a deal breaker for everyone. Publishing is truly subjective so it could work for other agents/editors but I’d say that 90% or more of the queries I see with a long prologue don’t really need it. So for me, those are usually rejected.
— Saritza🇵🇷Hernandez (@epubagent) February 21, 2019
P7: Great premise, but you’ve buried the lead w/a prologue that does not add to your 1st chap. The 1st p of ch. 1 has a fab hook! Lose prologue and clean up that grammar, esp. comma errors. #RevPit #10Queries
— Jay Whistler (@JayWhistler) February 15, 2019
Q1 (adult fantasy): Confusing wording in query and no sense of plot. First chapter is obviously a prologue and should have been cut. Almost stopped at first chapter, but second chapter killed it with an awesome voice. This one narrowly squeaked into requests. 🔥#RevPit #10Queries
— Ellen Brock (@EllenMBrock) April 23, 2018
Sometimes, the prologue contains good information that simply belongs elsewhere.
— Carly Hayward (@FromCarly) April 24, 2018
My personal opinion is: 1) if you have one, it belongs in the query; and 2) question why your Chap 1 is a better “start” and see where your prologue information can be moved to.
— Patrick 🏳️🌈 – Acquiring Editor (@consumingbooks) February 5, 2019
4. Many writers start stories in the wrong place. Open as close to the main plot catalyst as possible, and fill in backstory along the way.
— Sarah Guan (@Sarah_Guan) November 6, 2016
If you are going to include a prologue, make sure it contains important plot information, stakes, and/or tension.
— Jeni Chappelle (@jenichappelle) October 14, 2017
.@btdill A good prologue pulls you in and hooks you. It establishes atmosphere, mood, and setting without exposition or info-dumps.
— Thao Le (@ThaoLe8) August 31, 2016
If the reader doesn’t know the characters/plot/stakes how are they to be invested in a wildly dramatic prologue opening?
— Carly Watters (@carlywatters) January 3, 2017
If you do have a prologue (hopefully a well written, necessary one), should you query with it?
Learning that prologues are turn offs for a lot of agents has me torn. I like the prologue in my #WIP. I’ve always read prologues, they’re part of the story. But to maximise rep success, is it better just to blow it up? My brain hurts thinking about it.
— Jared Greenwood (@GreenwoodIam) February 5, 2019
I also love prologues, so I’ve been puzzling over the same issue. I think I’ll probably follow the advice to make the prologue necessary and good, but not use it to query. You can query with the first chapter and then show the prologue to an agent who expresses interest.
— Morgan Morrow (@MorganMorrow333) February 5, 2019
Query without the prologue. After you sign with an agent you’ll probably be asked for rewrites. At that point, tell them you have a prologue. Trust your agent to decide whether to submit to publishers with or without it.
— Ellen Meister 🌊 (@EllenMeister) February 5, 2019
Agents and editors all have their own preferences, but the majority seem to agree that a prologue should not be sent as a sample, but saved until later.
I’d want the first three total, so your prologue and two chapters. Just as an FYI, many agents and publishers are anti-prologue, so you may want to look at your content and see if it’s necessary or can be filtered through the rest of the story or opening chapters.
— Nicole Bea (Bezanson) (@nicbeawrites) February 8, 2019
If/when I request the first 50 pages of your manuscript, DON’T SEND ME YOUR PROLOGUE. Save that for if I ask for the full. Here’s why: prologues are mainly used to foreshadow a vital piece of the story LATER in the book. I’m only reading the beginning.
— Anne Tibbets (@AnneTibbets) November 8, 2018
I always say save the prologue for when more pages are requested. Use the first 5 pages of your true story in your sub, then let the editor know you’re sending a prologue with it when they request. #RevPit #AskEditor
— Kaitlyn Johnson (@kaitylynne13) April 16, 2018
Good morning, #pitmad writers! If I ❤️ your tweet, please send the following:
Synopsis (1-2 pages)
50 Pages (if you have a prologue, start with chapter 1 please)
Use my Query Manager form to submit: https://t.co/KXznRAZ6bT
Good luck to everyone today!! 💛
— Justin (@Justin_Books3) June 7, 2018
So, should you tighten/cut your prologue? Many writers report good results from cutting their prologue or, at least, keeping it short.
I did away with my most cherished prologue during that course – it was where the whole world of my novel came from. But it was the right thing to do. Just shy of a year later I signed with my agent. Good luck!
— Angharad Walker (@AngharadWalker) February 5, 2019
I had a prologue… And then an awesomesauce agent made a full req, but asked if I’d sub it without the prologue. Out came the axe & some thread to stitch pieces of it in other places.
I’m not anti prologue, but for me she was right. It’s better.
— Merlin B. Love (@SmokingHamlet) February 8, 2019
My own book has a prologue – only two paragraphs. Fun fact: it didn’t sell until I added it to set the mood. They must intrigue, not info-dump.
— Kristin Button Wright (@kbuttonw) July 21, 2018