Writing Tips

Revising: Why I Cut My Prologue

Prologues can be fun. They are tiny gateways at the beginning of a story used to introduce themes or characters who may not appear immediately. A good prologue can be wonderful foreshadowing. You can tell secrets to your reader that your characters might not be aware of, or you can pose specific questions for your reader before the main plot begins.

Prologues can also be clunky chunks of words that serve to confuse and annoy if done improperly. A prologue must serve the same purpose as any other scene in the book; it must build upon the story or build upon your characters.

When I began my revision I decided to cut my prologue. It’s 1300 words better served somewhere else.

Does it serve the story? 

Yes and no. My prologue takes place thousands of years in the past from where the novel begins. Although the events that take place are important to the story, the significance behind them is not readily revealed. I decided that a slow discovery of these events by both the characters and the reader will be far more intriguing than dropping it in their lap on page one.

Does it build on the characters?

No, not specifically. The characters in the prologue themselves have development throughout the series despite being dead. I’m not talking about flashbacks, either. These characters are historical figures in my world. Their actions effect everyone in the story in one way or another, but again, that is a slow process and better discovered over time.

Drop the prologue, get right to the point.

In the end, I decided it was better to leave out the prologue and start right at the beginning of the present day. That doesn’t mean I’m fully discarding my prologue. In fact, I’m considering revising it into a short story instead. There are other ways I could use it as well. I may eventually write more books on the history and future of my world. Just because something is cut doesn’t mean it has to be destroyed.

Have you ever had to cut something you originally thought your story couldn’t live without? Let me know!

As always, thank you for reading.


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