Most fictional novels have a prolog at the beginning, which is text copied from a later chapter. This preview provides the reader with a sample plot and writing style. Its purpose is to entice, which is essentially advertising. This is a good thing. Right?
I HATE reading prologs, and I would never put one in my book. First off, they confuse the reader by suddenly introducing names, events, actions, and concepts without explanation. Second, prologs do not contain any backstory, which makes them confusing. Plus, PROLOGS’S SPOIL THE PLOT. All regular stories have a beginning, middle, and end. Not a middle, beginning, middle, and end.
Alright, my rant is over, but I concede prologs are in ~70% of the fictional novels. How do authors select which part of their book to become a prolog? That is a tough choice. The section must have a balance of action, plot, and dialog. Yet, the prolog should not reveal essential plot elements, and it needs to be generic enough for an inexperienced reader to understand. Once selected, the author needs to “dumb down” that section so that an uninformed reader can clearly understand the contents. Unfortunately, the result is that this section no longer matches the writing style in the other parts of the book.
I do not know who invented prologs or why they are popular. Most books allow readers to view the first chapter online, and treader can read the book blurb. This activity should give the reader a good feel for what the book is about, and therefore a prolog is unnecessary.
The three sequels I am presently writing include a summary of the last book to remind the reader about the previous plot. Experienced readers may wish to skip this section. I like this approach because it gradually introduces the reader to the plot. Yet, few books use this technique. However, I have read at least 20 books with sample chapters of the next book at the end. Therefore, this is a better enticement or advertising technique.
I find it amusing we can only find prologs in fictional books. However, some documents have full content summaries or conclusions at the beginning, but this is a specific concept for technical papers. So why are prologs only found in fictional books? You can probably see that answer in a philosophy book prolog.

You’re the best -Bill
November 03, 2021
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