How to Write an Intriguing Book Prologue in 5 Simple Steps

book prologue

The world of literature is filled with several literary devices. Some are very essential, others, are optional. One of the many literary devices that can spice up a work of literature but are optional is a prologue.

In as much as it can add a great deal of spice to your book, to take advantage of all that it offers, you should know how to write a book prologue.
Although it adds a lot of value to a book, not every reader is comfortable reading a book that has a prologue.

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So, when writing a prologue, always bear in mind that certain readers will bypass it. This means if your prologue must be read by your target audience, you will need to learn to write a catchy prologue.
Before we look into how to write a book prologue, let’s find out what a prologue is.

What is a Prologue

In its simplest form, a prologue is an introduction to a story. It is the part of a piece of writing just before the first chapter of a book.

Although a prologue is a form of introduction to a book, it should not be mistaken for the actual introduction of a book. Also, its major role is giving readers the direction of a story before they start reading the story.

It serves to introduce some characters, as well as background details that readers might not spot easily in a story if they do not establish a connection before reading the story.
As a snippet before the main story, there is no rule binding how long or short it can be. It can be just one paragraph.

Also, in extreme situations, it can be made up of a couple of pages. The length of a book prologue is simply dependent on the information that is being passed by the book author.

What is the Use of a Prologue?

Not every writer is comfortable with including a prologue in their story or learning how to write a book prologue. While this does not go against any rules, it is not a writing style you should adopt. This is because there is a lot a book prologue can do for your book.

However, if you have no idea what the use of a book prologue is, you might have no reason to include it in your book.
A book prologue is simply used to give readers details that will be impossible or extremely difficult to decipher when the story is told from the character or narrator’s perspective.
All things being equal, a prologue is used to establish what character in the book is in charge of telling the story.

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Although this is usually the case, there are exceptions. Sometimes, there are situations in which the writer tells the story from different points of view.
Additionally, book prologues are used in foreshadowing an event that will come up much later in the book. When this is done, the minds of readers are prepared for action. That’s not all. Book prologues also play a major role in setting the tone of the book.

Types of Book Prologues

At the moment, there are five types of prologues. If you wish to learn how to write a book prologue, then it is good you know the various types of prologues. And as a writer, it is your duty to select the most ideal prologue for the book you are writing.
The different types of book prologues are;

In Medias Res

This is perhaps one of the most complicated types of book prologues. In Medias Res is from a Latin word that means “into the midst of things“. It is a prologue that opens up a book right at the center of an emotionally charged and action-filled moment.

In this prologue, readers are exposed to the effect of action without knowing what the cause of the action is. To understand the reason for the action, they will need to read the book completely.
This type of book prologue helps authors stir ample curiosity in their readers and is considered successful if the reader goes on with the book in an attempt to understand the action they were first exposed to.

Outsider’s Report

This book prologue type can almost be called a traditional prologue. Its major role is to pass important details and prepare the mood for the story to sink in.
With this book prologue type, you can be very creative. It is okay if you alter the character through whose eyes the story is seen.
If the outsider’s report does not get the reader intrigued, then, it is as good as useless.

Unexpected Clues

The unexpected clues just as its name states is a prologue type that offers readers an important secret that the protagonist is unaware of. This secret is one the protagonist needs to discover to be able to deal with the antagonist or solve a difficult crime. It is an ideal prologue for thrillers and mysteries.

Spoilers Ahoy

Are you looking to get your readers glued to the pages of your book from the very onset? This book prologue is one you might want to take advantage of to get your readers glued to every page of your book.

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You might not need this type of prologue if your story starts out suddenly. However, if things will have to build up slowly, then you should take advantage of the Spoilers Ahoy as it will help keep your readers interested in your book.

Backstory Delivery

Sometimes, stories do not contain all the information that readers expect. This is possible because authors sometimes expect the readers to connect the dots.
Well, are you writing a story in which the main character had some experiences that will not be stated in the story? If yes, you can help readers understand what exactly is going on through the use of the Backstory Delivery prologue.
With this type of prologue, you can easily rule out unwanted or unnecessary dialogues.

how to write a book prologue in 5 Steps

A prologue might not be an essential part of a book. However, if you must make the best out of it each time you use it, the steps below can come in very handy.
That being said, below are steps in writing a prologue.

Step 1

This is the point you get the reader’s attention. Although a good number of people are comfortable reading prologues, not everyone is comfortable with this literary device. So, if you want to ensure everyone that comes across your book reads the prologue, it has to be really catchy. 
While getting started with a prologue, you will need to get your readers ready for an interesting story. If you get things right at this point, it will almost be impossible for your readers to drop your book at this point.
When getting started with a prologue, you will need to put up vital details that will help your readers have a good understanding of your story.

The prologue has to be the skeletal framework of the story. Since the prologue introduces readers to the opening sentences of your story, this step is the point you ensure it is catchy. If you miss things at this point, you might struggle to get things right in the following steps. This step is crucial if you want to write a book prologue that will woo your readers. 

Step 2

The essence of writing a prologue is to ensure your readers are able to access the details that they need to connect the dots together. If this must be done properly, then, you will need to give out some level of details.

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Regardless of this, you should only write things that are essential.
If a piece of information does not seem vital to the characters, structure, and plot of your story, then it has no business appearing in the prologue.
Ensure you go to any length to avoid random facts. Only important facts should make it to your prologue.

Step 3

The prologue of every book is a bar that the rest of the book cannot afford to live below. Although the prologue is supposed to seamlessly align with the story, it should be made to stand out. It should not be seen as a part of the story.

Rather, you have to make it look like a story before the story. Being able to achieve this means you are close to knowing exactly how to write a book prologue.
Your prologue will be considered unsuccessful if it can’t give a feeling that is different from the other parts of the book. If your prologue fits into the story and does not stand out, you might have to convert it to the first chapter of your story.

Step 4

If you want to write a book prologue that will draw the attention of your readers, you need to keep the prologue short. Your prologue should not be as long as your chapters. If a prologue gets longer than a chapter, it might have to get re-evaluated.

Step 5

Your prologue should be an unfinished business. If you can’t get it done this way, you have not truly learned how to write a book prologue. When written this way, every reader will need to go through the book completely to find out how the story ended.

All you need to do is build up a story and add a hook to it. When you get the story properly built up. Instead of going on, you should end the prologue at this point and get started with the first chapter.

The Takeaway

There are several ways to improve as a writer. One of these ways is learning to write a prologue. To do this, you simply need to follow the steps listed in the article. 

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