Do prologues work or are they just authors marking time?

I added a prologue to GWIII and brought it to my writer’s group for their perusal. Here’s what I heard: “lacks urgency.” “Needs to start earlier at a more crucial moment.” “Characters aren’t engaged.” And my favorite — “It’s a fat guy eating whilst looking at a map.”

Fred, he of the last comment, brought three books with prologues and read from them. Two failed. They conveyed no useful information and were static. The third, from The Lies of Locke Lamora, worked (no surprise). There was action, conflict, and crucial information, and as the prologue took place years before the rest of the book, it was rightly a prologue that introduced Locke to the reader and to his world.

The thing about the prologue is, I’m not sure I want it or need it. I know there has to be some connection to our world but I’m not sure this is it. I know I want a framing device around the main story, but I’m not sure this is it either. So for now, I’ve taken that prologue out. I may try again with something different.

In general I don’t approve of prologues anyway, and this might be a case of forcing myself to do something I don’t want to do and that’s why it doesn’t work.


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