Since I didn't participate in any of the threads survivor linked, I'll respond here.
Usually, I'll at least skim through them. If the prologue looks to be a heavy-handed action hook, I'll skim more lightly. If the same characters appear in the first chapter, I might go back and read it. If it's an excerpt from some history chronicle or the like, I'll skip it completely.
I didn't used to hate prologues, until I read Ender's Game. OSC is masterful at creating entire new worlds without ever jumping out of his narrative. I try to learn from that, and I never use prologues of any sort.
As for reading them... I try to. Sometimes. Usually I just don't read fantasy or sci-fi because the burden of trying to sort through so many new names and places is too much. I've just managed to get Tolkien's names under my belt and I don't have room for much more.
If you're writing fantasy, concentrate on the story and your characters first, and then create any other names that you have to.
I categorically will NOT read a prologue of any length that is all in italics.
Prologues can be useful. If you have an inciting incident that happens at some distance (time or location) from where the story takes place, then, yes, I think a prologue is okay. I see this a lot in murder mysteries. You MUST make the telling of it interesting and intriguing enough for me to push on and read chapter one, however.
A prologue that is just a disguised info dump -- no. Find some other way unless you have the raconteur's knack for entertaining prose. I am not willing to read and take notes in a work of fiction.
like the post above I think prologue's are a good idea when it is a scene that sets up a story that happens later. The prologues I never read are ones that are written by the author to the reader.
Posts: 85 | Registered: Jan 2007
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I usually try to read the prologue, but I don't like the fact that they're there. I would prefer to get the story as I go. It's hard enough to make the commitment to start a book that is 300+ pages long. If I have to get through the prologue then through chapter 1 as well, it makes it harder to hook the reader. It also makes the book seem intimidating, as if the prologue is saying, "the characters and events in this book are so difficult to understand and remember that we're putting everything here".
I've never figured out why this debate pops up. You buy the book, it comes with a prologue, you read the prologue, if you read the book at all. If you don't like prologues, look first, and don't buy it if there's a prologue.
Posts: 7991 | Registered: Aug 2005
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It's always been clear to me that a Prologue takes place in a time prior to the story. It sets the stage for the main narrative that can happen years later. That's the only reason I've used a Prologue in my WIP. It's a not an info dump, but an incident in the MC's earlier years that sets the stage for how she behaves toward the conflict.
ForeWORDS are notes from author to reader. Most of these could be skipped. Personally, I read everything from the Copyright page to the backcover blurb.
I read all prologues and epilogues. As I stated before--in the last thread of this type--sometimes I regret this, but I always do. If it's an author I have read before and am already a fan of, I'll read the preface or foreward, too. If I am a fan, I'll read everything I can from an author.
Posts: 3649 | Registered: Jan 2007
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