How to Write a Good Prologue for Your Book
Not every prologue is created equal.
Just as a great prologue can make a book, a bad one can ruin it completely. Here are some tips to keep it fresh, exciting, and influential to your book’s story.
#1 – Keep it brief
Your prologue shouldn’t be longer than your average chapter length.
It should be one event (maybe two), it shouldn’t bother with developing characters, and it should only include the crucial information.
#2 – Keep it interesting
If your prologue is boring, readers will skip it. We all know that the first pages of your first chapter are extremely important.
This is where the reader will either be hooked to finish the book or where they lose interest.
If you include a prologue, it should be just as gripping as your first chapter.
However, this doesn’t mean you can slack in the first chapter. The two should work together to be as intriguing as possible to yank the reader in and not let them go.
An author who exemplifies this greatly is Jenna Moreci in her novel The Savior’s Champion. The prologue is vital to the story, is written in another perspective, and is just as (I would argue it’s even more) gripping as the first chapter.
#3 – Focus on crisp, original prose
Even if your prologue is historical or in a book genre that’s less “exciting”, or if it’s a document of some sort, keep your prose on par with the rest of your book.
Put special effort into the quality of writing—this is your reader’s first taste of what’s to come!
#4 – End with a burning question
After your prologue, your reader should be so intrigued that they immediately jump into the first chapter.
You want them to say “What the **** is going on?!” so loud it freaks their cat out.
This is what pushes readers to buy more books, increasing your overall book sales and hooking fans.
George R.R. Martin did a great job with this in his infamous series Game of Thrones. The series opens with a prologue of men venturing beyond the wall to investigate certain occurrences.
At the end, you’re left wondering what the heck just happened.
#5 – Make it an event, not an exposition dump
This is where most writers go wrong…
They use their prologue as a tool to spoon-feed readers' information about a world the reader hasn’t developed an interest for yet.
This will often make them skim the prologue, skip the prologue, or skip the book entirely.
Prologues are a great story-telling tool when used properly. Make sure you need a prologue before you include one, keep it brief, keep it interesting, and keep it Absolutely Necessary.
#6 – Give your prologue a purpose by finishing the whole book
A great prologue means nothing if it only ever sees a folder in your computer that you only open every seven months.
Here’s your kick, go get to work 😉