Every word of your prologue must be important; every element you give must be important to the storyline, characters, and general structure of your tale. Don't just scribble some random lines to create "atmosphere" or to ease your reader into your tale. Be a generous storyteller and provide pertinent data. Always remember that your readers will not only enjoy reading about your world but also wish to learn more about it.
Your prologue should grab the attention of your reader and make them want to read on. It should also establish tone by showing the type of story that is being told. Some authors like to use prologues to reveal information about their characters or settings that we would otherwise need to be told explicitly. Others prefer to keep their prologues short and sweet with just enough detail to whet our appetite for what's to come.
There are many ways to write a good prologue including using one of these as inspiration: ancient Chinese epics, medieval French romances, 19th century American frontier tales.
A prologue is written before the main body of the story and often includes details about the setting, time, and characters involved. It is used to explain what happens in the story and can be divided up into three basic parts: exposition, development, and conclusion.
Exposition occurs when the writer explains what has happened up until the point where the story begins.
If you're positive your story requires a prologue, write it as brilliantly as you can, knowing you'll be up against a wall of rejection. Because, at the risk of repeating myself, most literary agencies despise prologues. They think they're the end of the book and therefore should be included at the beginning.
The only way to avoid this is to have your agent or publisher know of some quality about you or your work that makes them want to represent you. This might happen if you've been awarded a prize or received an award for your work, or if there's some other recognition you've been given that would make your agent think you're important. But other than that, they just don't want to waste their time with a prologue.
So what can you do? You could include a summary chapter at the front of your book, but don't call it a prologue. Instead, use terms such as "chapter one," "the introduction," or "an overview." That way your agent or editor won't reject you over something so trivial as name-calling.
However, even if you remove the word "prologue" from your title page, agents and editors are still likely to dislike your chapter one.
What is the format for a prologue?
Here are some pointers on how to write an effective prologue.
A good prologue serves one of several roles in a story: Future events are foreshadowed Providing background information about the primary conflict's backstory Establishing a point of view (either the main character's or another character involved in the story)
The prologue is also important for bringing readers into the story and creating interest in it. Generally, there is some kind of conflict involved in a prologue, either between two characters or within the author himself. The conflict can be revealed through physical action (such as fighting) or through dialogue between people (such as arguments). Sometimes, an event that appears to be unimportant later on turns out to be very crucial for the story.
One example of a prologue that reveals future events is Huckleberry Finn's introduction in Mark Twain's novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Here, we learn that both characters will one day join up with Jim, a black slave, to escape from Mississippi to Canada. This scene makes us want to know more about these three main characters and their relationships with each other.
Another example is Gatsby's introductory chapter in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby. In this chapter, we learn about Jay Gatsby, a wealthy young man who dreams of becoming famous by building a new life for himself in America.
While it should be written in the same manner as the rest of the book, here are some ways to make it stand out: time difference. Your prologue might take place in the past to disclose a significant event. It may skip forward in time, with the rest of the tale serving as a type of flashback up until that moment. Or the prologue may jump back in time, foreshadowing later events.
A prologue is used to attract attention or make a point without interrupting the flow of the story. Thus it can be very short or long, but it must get its message across quickly and effectively so that readers don't switch off from the story before it has started. A prologue can be written in a narrative or a descriptive style, depending on how you want it to be read. You could also use a combination of both.
There are many different forms of writing a prologue. You could write a brief introduction about the main character, include a scene showing what has brought him or her into contact with the audience, or even tell a story within a story. The prologue does not have to follow any particular structure or formula, but it does need to get to the point quickly while still being interesting enough for readers to want to find out more.
Prologues are often included in books because they provide information about the setting or characters that will be important to readers who aren't necessarily going to remember everything mentioned during the course of the story.