On Writing, Questions

Novel Writing Question 4: Do I need a prologue?

Prologues can serve a variety of purposes. They can also be ‘teasers’ of the main action, even a ‘teaser’ of the ending (I’ll write more about that later) or even a way to set up a red herring to fool the audience into following the wrong lead. If it’s a crime novel, it could be the last moments of a murder victim. If it’s a fantasy or sci-fi, it can get all the exposition out of the way in one go so the main story isn’t encumbered with it (just think Star Wars).

But, are they really necessary?

Is using it an exposition an admission of lazy writing?

Does using it as a teaser make it feel too much like television?

Is misleading the readers from the start unfair to them? Are they so used to it that they’re not misled anyway?

Are they more suitable in some books more than others?

Let me know in the comments below.


5 thoughts on “Novel Writing Question 4: Do I need a prologue?”

  1. I have heard different opinions on this question, and I have thought about it a great deal for my writing. I decided to look at numerous novels from different genres and times, and I have decided they work if done well. If you have information that will drive the novel forward, and it can be set a bit apart from the rest, then I think a prologue works. This is only my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right. If there’s something that you need to get across to the reader that simply can’t fit anywhere else in a novel, a prologue is great. Thanks for taking the time to let me know your opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A prologue can be useful in telling an epic story. In Dune (1984) the prologue is absolutely necessary. It gives historical background information that is vital to understanding the story. Similarly, The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) has a voice over prologue that hooked me as a viewer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. If you’re writing a long epic and you need to establish a few key facts, a prologue feels a lot neater than just sticking it at the front of the first chapter. Thanks for letting me know what you think.

      Liked by 1 person

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