Writing Books/Prologues


I have been researching every where on the net about prologues.
The more I read about the more confuse I become.   Some say that's where you place the back-story. What is suppose be in the  prologue?

Hi, Rose Andre!

Well, technically speaking, there's no "supposed to be" about a prologue. What's COMMONLY in one is a scene that predates the opening of the book and provides additional details about what the book is about that wouldn't really "fit" in the actual story. For example, one master of prologues is Clive Cussler. His "Dirk Pitt" series has the hero searching for various kinds of treasure while also stopping some horrible thing from happening to the world (they're thrillers.) The prologues in his books tell how the treasure GOT to where the hero finds it. So, if he found a Civil War submarine in the Sahara Desert (the plot of the book and movie "Sahara") then the prologue would take the reader along for how the ship arrived there. Now the reader KNOWS the ship is there and can root for the hero in the steps he takes to find it---while also making the reader groan in frustration when he takes a wrong turn.

Other prologues focus on the hero's backstory or "prophecies" about WHY the hero is going to save the world.

Now, all that said---most publishers would prefer you don't have a prologue at all. It's VERY difficult to do a good job with one and in a debut book, it's nearly unheard of. You'd do better to incorporate any backstory into the plot throughout the first few chapters. Let the characters tell their own story through interactions with others, just like you do in your own life. Someone who meets you today has no clue who your friends were in grade school (for example) so if an old friend from that time dropped by your house, you'd have to bring them up to date on how you met. It wouldn't take pages and pages. You'd just say something like, "Oh, I met Sally on the playground in first grade. We fought over the swings and both wound up in the principal's office." Etc.

Does that help?  If you have any other questions, feel free to ask and good luck with your book! :)


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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