To Prologue or Not to Prologue

On one of the many lists I'm one there was a big discussion as whether or not to use prologues.

There are those who are adamant that there never should be a prologue, even if it's a back story, the book should begin with Chapter 1. There are even editors at publishing houses who frown on Prologues and might even reject a book because of it. A few readers said they always skipped the prologue.

Those in favor of prologues felt that it could set the tone of the book. In case of a historical period that it could give the background of that time and make it easier for the reader to get into the book itself. Others felt it was a good way to introduce something important to the story that had gone on years prior to the beginning of the book.

In the end, my feeling it all depends upon what you as the writer thinks works.

In my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Invisible Path, the first chapter could easily have been a prologue, but I chose to have it be Chapter 1 even though it is the only chapter written in first person and from a character who is falsely accused of murder later in the story. The purpose of this chapter is to give some insight into this character. The rest of the book is told in close third person from the POV of the heroine and sleuth, Deputy Tempe Crabtree.

Tell me what you think, do you like prologues or do you think the book should start with Chapter 1?


For a copy of Invisible Path as a book or e-book go to or


M.M. Gornell said…
Good topic, Marilyn. I think an author should do what works for your story, i.e. gets your thoughts out there in a way readers will want to keep reading until the end. You hear a lot of "never dos" out there, and some I think an author should take heed of (like editing!), and some, not so much. As a reader I don't care what the beginning is called or how the author does it, as long as I like what they're saying and want to keep going. (didn't mean to write so much!)

Madeline, you are so right. It's like the rules for writing, learn them first, then you can break them.

Readers aren't nearly as picky about such things as the authors--though there are exceptions.


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