Thursday, June 3, 2010

Prologues that Work?

It's been interesting hearing what people have had to say about prologues this week. I've never used one, and generally series contemporary romance in general doesn't seem to make use of them often, if at all.

I was curious, though, as to who out there uses prologues and how they make them work. In the friendly confines of my bookshelves, I found some examples from some well-known (and definitely best-selling) authors.

Dan Brown uses a brief (one to two page) prologue to set up his stories. His prologues are told from the point of view of the villian or another character associating with the villian. They are not told from the point of view of his main character. I thought that was interesting.

Clive Cussler uses a long prologue (the length of a regular chapter) to set up his stories. His prologues give details about a historical event. Later, this event will play a part in the actual story as Dirk Pitt searches for an artifact related to it. The adventure revolves around the recovery of this artifact.

Stephenie Meyer uses a "preface" in her books. This is a short (usually a page or less) piece that whets your appetite for the story. Later, the story will "catch up" to this part, but the actual lead in will not be repeated word for word. It gives a bit of an emotional "what to expect".

In all of these cases, I thought prologues were used effectively. Now, that's not to say I'm going to run out and use one in my story! Maybe more of a "if the shoe fits" kind of situation.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!



  1. Some good examples of prologues there, Debra. Dan Brown's and Clive Cussler's sound like the advice in that online article I found about prologues.
    I'm not no sure about Meyer's preface idea - seems like it's cheating slightly to whet your appetite with something that happens 'later', rather than use your first few paragraphs of your story to grab the reader's attention.

  2. I've read that prologues can definitely be used as a hook. Read the prologue and get a teaser for the novel, cousin to a longer movie trailer.

  3. I've seen preface used in non-fiction books, not fiction. Interesting.