Friday, August 26, 2011

To Prologue or not to Prologue - Question, much?

Sue Grimshaw (who is lovely, and approachable, and a breath of fresh air) really threw the cat amongst the proverbial chickens when she advised us during a cold read at the Romance Writers of New Zealand conference, that she like prologues.

An editor who likes prologues?

Yes, apparently Sue was serious and, to tell you the truth, I couldn't be happier because if there's something I love, as a reader, it's a well thought out prologue. One that makes me think I've been let-in on a seriously cool secret right from the beginning.

Of course, that doesn't mean I think we need a lot of prologues at the beginning of books and I don't think that's what Sue was saying.

My rule of thumb?  Nut out the pertinent information, drill it right down to the most important facts, then write a prologue that creates the feel and tone you want for your manuscript.


If you're having problems with it. If it doesn't flow or come out right,


admit that maybe you don't need a prologue - as all it is, is a lump of backstory - which may be interesting but not the best way to hook your readers (or an editor).


  1. I totally agree. Don't they always say that sometimes you might have to cut out the whole first chapter/prologue. I think it all depends on what it brings to the story and what you're writing. If it's category maybe not so much but paranormal- maybe? I don't know- any other ideas??
    I think Bob Mayer said you sometimes don't know what your first chapter will be until you write the end of the book and sometimes that makes sense:-)

  2. Hi Kamy - yep I agree. And, that was a little gem from Boy Mayer. For those of us who pantser, we often don't know the final resolving conflict until we're there. This means we can't foreshadow it in the first chapter - to introduce the main/growth-curve of our protagonists - until we actually know what it is. e.g. conflict: she doesn't trust him - final resolution: she trusts him.