Made in America

What Is a Prologue?

Sometimes when we’re writing, we have so many ideas swirling around our head that when it comes time to fit those ideas into the overall plot of our story, it feels a little disjointed.

If an idea feels like it can help advance the storyline, but doesn’t blend seamlessly into one of the main chapters, there is one more place to consider – the prologue!

So what exactly is a prologue? For starters, it’s the opposite of the epilogue – rather than being at the end of a book, it’s at the beginning.

The primary reason to include a prologue is if there’s an important element of the story that took place prior to your book’s main plotline. A rule of thumb is that the prologue will explain important information that doesn’t necessarily follow the timeline of the rest of your book.

Let’s say that your book is focused on the life of a man with supernatural powers and how he uses these powers to solve mysteries. Though you’ve already covered how he began using his powers for good in the first chapter of your book, perhaps there’s an event in his childhood when he got a momentary glimpse of his powers. In this case, the prologue would be the place for you to expand on this brief experience. In short, the prologue is essentially a short story before the real story that helps the reader understand holistically the plot of a book.

While a prologue can add depth to your story, it’s important to note that not every book needs one. If you have an idea that contains important details but doesn’t have the complexity to warrant an entire prologue, consider adding it to the first chapter of your book instead.

Check back in the coming weeks when we give you some helpful prologue writing tips!

Copyright Dorrance, 2016

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