Love ’em or leave ’em?
There are those who are adamantly against the use of prologues, those who like them, and those who don’t really care either way. Which are you?
I tend to take prologues on a case-by-case basis.
When I read a published book in which a prologue works, I watch and learn.
However, I’ve read a number of contest entries that began with a prologue that’s unnecessary. I suggested those writers weave in snippets of backstory instead, doing so only when the information was essential for a reader’s understanding.
One of the classics in the inspirational historical romance genre is Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love. The story begins with a prologue. And what a prologue. It’s 34 pages! But then again, the book is 464 pages long.
The prologue in Redeeming Love takes place 15 years before the main story begins and gives the reader a picture of the main character’s life before it was radically changed.
If you’ve read Redeeming Love, what do you think of the prologue? Do you feel it is essential to the story? Do you think it was the right length or too long? If you’d been Rivers’ editor, what would you have told her?
I remember reading that prologue and wondering why I was in the POV of a young girl and why I needed the information. I was tempted to stop reading, but I’d heard such rave reviews of the book that I ignored my doubts, trusting that the reason for the prologue would become clear, which it did.
My experience with Redeeming Love makes me wonder about the value of a prologue and whether or not using one in my stories would be a good idea. The danger, as I see it based on this book, is that if the prologue doesn’t enable the reader to get to know and care about the characters, the reader could set the story aside before it’s even begun.
I’ve not come to any definitive answers. As I said above, I tend to take prologues on a case-by-case basis, and that would apply to my stories as well as those written by others. What I’d like to know is what you think about prologues. Care to share?