I’ve got my edit letter for book two of the Aether Chronicles. Book 1 had both a prologue and an epilogue. I hadn’t written either of these into book 2, but I had in my personal notes to add them to keep the books consistent.
Sure enough, I was asked to add a prologue. What they wanted was a little different than what I’d originally thought of, but I really like what I created. Even if it was difficult to write.
To prologue or not to prologue is something a lot of authors grapple with. Some people love prologues, some people hate them. I think it all depends on what works for you story. A prologue can enhance a story, but not all stories need them.
It can be really easy to turn a prologue into pages of backstory, or use it as a way to info dump. This is exactly what you don’t what to do. Nor, do you want to write a prologue that’s really chapter 1. Just because it takes place a few years before the story starts doesn’t always mean it’s a prologue–at least to me.
Personally, I think the fine line comes down to who’s POV it’s in–but this is just me. I think if it’s in the POV of someone from the story, then it might not be a prologue. To me, a prologue should offer something unique, something that can’t be gleaned from the main POV characters. Something that sets of the story, or gives information the reader needs, but isn’t necessarily backstory.
For example, the prologue in INNOCENT DARKNESS is in the POV of a girl named Annabelle. She’s not one of the POV characters. Nor is she actually in book 1. But what happens in the prologue sets off the chain of events which come into play six years later in chapter 1 when we meet Noli, the main character.
Both prologues are also very short. The book 1 prologue is three pages. That’s it.
One thing I did struggle with in the book 1 prologue was making the tones between the prologue and the rest of the book constant. They might be about different characters and occur in different places, but I didn’t want to give the reader the wrong impression about the book.
I’ve struggled with the book 2 prolouge, but for entirely different reasons.
I’m not actually a prologue person. I read them in books — I’m not one of those people who skip them. But I rarely write them. Mostly because I think most of the stories I’ve written don’t need a prologue.
Nevertheless, I like having the prologues in this series, and for this series, I think it works. The book 1 prologue is one of my favorite parts of the book.
As for the book 2 prologue, I think it’ll turn out well, and I hope you like it as well.
Suzanne Lazear writes steampunk tales for teens. They have faeries in them. Her debut novel, INNOCENT DARKNESS, book one of The Aether Chronicles, releases August 2012 from Flux. Visit her personal blog for more adventures.