Writing Books/Prologue


Hi Sandy! You've probably heard this question many times- to prologue or not to prologue? I've recently joined a writer's website that consisted of many heated debates on this subject. I was shocked to discover many people skip right over them! Especially when plenty of books (mainly thrillers), seem to have them.
I've written a thriller (my first) and stumbled upon this info. My novel starts with a prologue, an event that takes place twenty years before the current story picks up. It is fairly short, and in essence shows why the antagonist chooses to murder his victims and what prompts his behavior. Now I'm confused. The advice I've come away with is to integrate it into the story instead. The only plausible way I see to do this would be through a dream sequence or a flashback ( which many also deem unpopular). I was hoping to show the event as it unfolded, not try to explain it away later. Now I'm debating whether to just re-title it Chapter One or keep it as a prologue, though I hate to think if it were to be published it may be ignored. I suppose I could attempt to weave it in somehow, but it would have to be early on in the book and I would like to know if you have some sound advice on how I could successfully do so.
Have you used them yourself and what's your personal opinion of them? Thank you for your time.


Hi Carol,

Thanks for the question.

I often use a prologue and I can tell you that (particularly in thrillers) they work extremely well.  They are considered part of the genre. Avoid writers' websites where people who have yet to write a book, talk endlessly about how to write a book!.  Trust your first instincts and only change that when you have an in-house editor or an agent who believes in your work.  Most of my novels have been thrillers and even in the non-thriller ones I have often used a prologue.

Trust yourself ~  and good luck with the novel, I hope I have the pleasure of reading it in the not too distant future.



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Sandy McCutcheon


Author of 22 plays, 12 bestselling thrillers, a memoir and children's fiction.I can work with people on the process of writing, what to expect and ask for from an editor. How to work with the publisher`s marketing and publicity people. And how to survive book launches and publicity tours!


Published author of 22 plays, 12 bestselling thrillers, a young adult and three non-fiction titles. Visit his Moroccan blog at http://www.riadzany.blogspot.com for a look at his blogging work.

St Andrews, Helsinki University and other institutions. Adult Educator of the Year Award, Australia

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