writers tips / writing

Prologue or Chapter One? What Have You Heard

This continues to be one of the most controversial topics in writing a novel. I have heard as many experts claim prologues are out as not. Some say make it Chapter One. As many others say if it’s separated in time, make it a Prologue.

This was brought to mind when an efriend, Judith Marshall over at LinkedIn posted that her recent conference declared it solved: No more prologues. I shared that at MY latest conference (granted, it’s from the distant past of September 2011), qualified presenters claimed it was up to the writer.

I’d like to hear what you’ve heard: Prologue or Chapter One? Take a quick vote. Let’s see what the consensus is from around the world. Then We’ll all know the truth:

Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s seeking representation for a techno-thriller that she just finished. Any ideas? Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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8 thoughts on “Prologue or Chapter One? What Have You Heard

  1. I just finished reading Kristen Lamb’s post on this topic because I have developed a serious problem with my WIP, yes, all about my prologue. Mine is looonnnnggg. 6200 words long. But as I said to her, in my defense, I feel it’s critical to understanding the story, as it covers a murder which took place thirty-five years before present day. All other crimes in the present day stem from the one that took place so long ago. My confidence has been shaken because it seems no one thinks a prologue is a good idea. So, is it Chapter 1 for my prologue and a time zoom to present day for Chapter 2? Any thoughts would be appreciated, although I see this topic is rather dated on your blog.
    E.D. Degenfelder

    Liked by 1 person

    • I talked about these very topics to a mentor today and they could not offer a rebuttal. It’s weird but for some reason your blog takes about a minute to fully load on my moms computer. It’s weird, I have shown this article with many people, it looks to me like very few people are able to grasp how important this really is. I bet top Website professionals would really love your article. This is simply marvelous!


  2. It’s amazing how controversial such a simple difference in opinion can be…to the point that in my recent post on the subject, I described it as occasionally being one of those topics “that should never be discussed”.

    But to answer your poll: it depends.
    We’ve all got our own ideas about what a good prologue looks like, and my idea is wildly different than many others I’ve seen out there. Heck, some of the books I use as examples of good prologues (by my definition) are often condemned by other readers/writers as examples of why prologues should never be used! 😉

    Off-topic: I love your “Writer’s Wisdom” on the sidebar.
    Especially the quote by Somerset Maugham.


    • Thanks for weighing in. I have been surprised at conferences when knowledgeable people take such a principled stand on the issue. In published books, it does seem 50/50. You have a great post–thorough discussion on your blog. I hope readers hop over to check it out.


  3. Pingback: Prologues…Taboo or Not Taboo? | Side Quest Publications

  4. I really think it depends on the story. I have one in my book, but not one in my next book coming out in March. In fact, as I think on it, only one other of my stories have a prologue. Yeah, I’m sticking with ‘it depends’.


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