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The purpose of a prologue

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#1 ChesterMBL


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Posted March 06, 2012 - 05:11 PM

What is the purpose of the prologue of a story? To me, it sometimes feels like the author is just delaying the start of the story. What does everyone think? Personally, I hate them and don't see their purpose.

#2 Guest_Amanda N._*

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Posted March 07, 2012 - 06:31 PM

A prologue provides history, backstory and other information that for one reason or another, did not fit in with the main story line. Its origins date back to Greek times, when people used the prologue of a play to determine whether it was worth watching or not.

I agree with you that these miniature prequels can sometimes seem out of place in modern times. More often than not, reading a prologue isn't necessary for the comprehension of the main novel, and it certainly isn't needed for enjoying the book as a whole. I would say go back and read the prologue only if you desire to gain more appreciation for a book you love, or if you are required to.

#3 kmw


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Posted March 09, 2012 - 04:49 AM

Prologues are used to set up information for the story you're about to read. They can serve any number of purposes. I often use them to set up an ominous vision that hopefully drives the reader to want to find out what's going on. Other authors might want to introduce you to some element that will be important later, like a character or event that will have an impact on the story. Often, they need to do this sooner than later because, as they say, if your character uses a gun in Act III, the reader needs to see that gun in Act I.

Heck, you may not even notice, but there are forms of prologues in everything from your favorite television show to that movie you saw last night. The first 10 minutes of any movie, used to establish the tone, is a prologue. Most television shows open with scenes that set up the rest of the show, or sitcoms that have scenes that have nothing to do with the rest of the show, but introduces the audience to characters and settings.

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