Following Sunday’s question about prologues and if you read them, I felt compelled to write this post.
My understanding of a prologue is that they’re supposed to be shorter than an actual chapter and most importantly optional; meaning that if someone doesn’t read it, they won’t be completely lost as the story goes on, but if they do read it, it will be to their advantage because they’ll have a better grasp of the background of the story or motives of the character(s). (Plus, as someone comically mentioned: why not read it, it’s included in the book, so in essence you paid for it.)
Because I know people skim (or skip) them, I try not to put anything in them that’s not covered again (to some point) later in the book.
In the beginning of Her Sudden Groom where Alex Banks is informed by his father about the betrothal agreement, I considered making that a prologue since it not only sets up the situation, but is shorter than most of the other chapters–not to mention, this fact of a betrothal between them is mentioned repeatedly throughout the book. However, on the advice of an avid reader I know who skims or skips prologues, I made it chapter one because if that gets missed, there could be a lot of confusion regarding Alex’s sick father, the explanation for the addendum, and even a few tidbits about Alex’s reputation and personality.
Likewise, my very next book, Her Reluctant Groom, does have a prologue, and if I’m not mistaken, it is my only book that has already been published that does. The reason it’s there is to explain why Emma is no longer living in London with her sister, but staying with Caroline instead. However, the events that transpired in the prologue are alluded to enough times within the book to piece together the reason Emma went to live with Caroline for those who don’t already know: Marcus and those who didn’t read the prologue.
Another excellent reason to read the prologue was pointed out by a commenter who mentioned catching up on characters from previous books…
As of now, I do believe His Contract Bride will have a prologue–unless I change my mind again…–and one of the events in this specific prologue not only sets up the first meeting of Edward and Regina, but also gives the reader a little better understanding of a situation that was discussed in Her Sudden Groom. Eh…I’m talking in circles so I’ll stop after I say one last thing:
I am a person who likes overlapping storylines, whether reading or writing. So even though this book is actually a prequel, it will fit into place with more than one of my others and might actually explain a few things from several of the other books.