Deep breath. Amara whispers...in NEVER TOO LATE, I originally started with...
There. I said it. I feel so much better now.
Before I queried, the novel started with what I thought of as a Julia Quinn-esque prologue about the Hero of the story. Regency romance powerhouse Julia Quinn has used such prologues multiple times to set up a specific element of backstory that shapes the Hero when we meet him in the story proper. (See, for instance, her Bridgerton series...including THE DUKE AND I and THE VISCOUNT WHO LOVED ME.) And there are lots and lots of historical romances, even new releases now, that employ prologues.
But...when I actually began querying agents and receiving partial/full requests, I made a swift and surgical decision not to include the prologue when sending out the requested manuscript.
Several agents have blogged about why prologues are often not a good idea.
- former agent Nathan Bransford jokingly referred to a prologue as "3-5 pages of introductory material that is written while the author is procrastinating from writing a more difficult section of the book."
- agent Kristin Nelson explained in a podcast why she skips prologues when reading requested manuscripts.
- agent Carly Waters offers a bullet list of potential problems with prologues (although she explains in another post how to write a good prologue people won't skip)
- and this Writer's Magazine article takes a look at how prologues may function (and be perceived) in different genres
Do I think prologues can be legitimately necessary in a novel? Absolutely. But that's a judgment each writer has to make for him/herself...with a clear sense of how and why the prologue works as part of the novel.
When the release date for NEVER TOO LATE rolls around in 2013, perhaps I'll consider posting that now-abandoned "Island of Misfit Toys" prologue here as an extra. Perhaps.