Prologue vs Chapter One

I attended my critique writing group last night, which was free manuscript evening, whereby we all read one of our current projects. So I took the opening chapters of my work in progress, consisting of a prologue and the first chapter.
I had some great feedback and with one suggestion in mind, I have a question:

One of the group commented on my use of a prologue and suggested I make it the first chapter, as she said some people don’t bother reading a prologue. If it’s skipped in this book, it could cause some confusion as it’s fundamental to the story, but I feel it’s too short to be a first chapter. The second chapter is a completely different scene so they’re not appropriate to be placed together in the first chapter. What are your thoughts? Do you read a prologue? I do, but thought it would be prudent to check with other fellow readers.

Look forward to hearing your responses 🙂


6 thoughts on “Prologue vs Chapter One

  1. Hi Fiona,
    If the prologue is essential to your story, and sets a scene by which the rest of your manuscript make sense, then by all means keep it in. I always read the prologue because I know there’s going to be something in it – a history or character trait – which will have a profound bearing on the central plot in the book.
    My debut novel, Bloodgifted, has a prologue (it’s approx. 6 pages long) which is necessary to understanding the entire premise of the story. It’s also set in a different time period. Originally it was going to be the opening chapter, but it just didn’t work. Both my writers group and my editor (at the time) suggested a prologue – and it worked beautifully!
    If you have time, check it out on my website. I’ve placed the prologue and first three chapters on there as a teaser.

  2. Hi Fiona!
    I do read and like prologues, however I have read comments from publishers and authors that suggest using prologues only when you are already published as often they aren’t as attention grabbing as a chapter. But if yours contains key issues to the story then stick with it 🙂

  3. Hi Fiona
    I always read prologues.I expect them to tell me something I need to know for the rest of the book to make sense. I originally had a short prologue in The Dragon Legacy. I decided to include it in my first chapter but made it clear it happened in a different time period. 🙂

  4. Hi Fiona! Like Tima, Tracey and Jane, I always read prologues. I know the general advice out there is to avoid them, but I really like them if they’re used to good effect. I can see where a prologue would fit in really well with The Gateway. 🙂

  5. Hi,
    Especially if I like the author, I read everything in the book these days. But I never used to. So maybe your prologue could be the New chapter one, maybe chapters can be different lengths. (I’m reading a lot of Kurt Vonnegut at the moment)
    If people don’t read the whole thing and feel they’re missing something, that’s up to them.
    Keep it up it’s great.

  6. Hi,

    I always read a prologue, but whether I write one varies from story to story. In my upcoming book, Eve’s Thieves, there’s no prologue. I just drop the readers head-first into the story. But my other upcoming book and the one I’m currently writing each have prologues. The prologues are short, essential to the story and at some distance from the other events of the books in terms of time.

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