I don’t like prologues. Never have. They are usually boring, overly long ramblings of things the author thinks a reader needs to know to understand the book. At worst, they are a necessary read before one gets to the actual book without any real content; at best they give a short glimpse to a character that then promptly dies, inciting the events that follow.
Whatever form they take, I have never written one for my books. I have heartily embraced every writing advice that tells to delete them. My books don’t need them.
I was, therefore, rather surprised when I found myself writing a prologue. The book was doing fine without it. It didn’t even occur to me to add it. Yet, the moment the notion of writing it entered my mind, it felt self-evident that the book needed it. So now it has one.
I’m writing a thriller – of sorts. Most of it is in the protagonist’s point of view. It works when I’m trying to keep the reader as much in the dark as the protagonist is, but at times it can be limiting. Sometimes a reader needs to know more than the protagonist does. It adds to the tension.
That’s what my prologue is for. The reader knows to expect something that the protagonist has no clue of. The contents of the chapter are essential, but also the form. It needs to be a prologue, not merely the first chapter, otherwise the reader might be led to believe that the people in it are the protagonists. It’s a fine definition, but I think it’s there.
And so, at least for now, my upcoming book has a prologue. And I don’t mind it all that much. The book took a whole new shape after I added it. That doesn’t mean I will start writing them to all my books from now on. The rule still stands.
Epilogues, on the other hand. Those I like.