The Efficacy of Prologues vs. Starting in the Middle

Novels, especially in the genre of Fantasy have long relied on prologues which give exposition for the reader so that they can understand the fictional world’s origins and major conflicts. There is another approach which has been used which is to start in the middle of the conflict, and explain origins later as the action is moving.

Explore the pros and cons of both approaches, and make suggestions for what kind of stories work best with the two approaches.

  • I've been thinking about this in the context of mystery/ thrillers, where there is often a prologue from the POV of the killer, and then the main part of the book is taken up with having the detective catch up with the character with that POV. In both cases, I think the prologue throws up a wall that allows the writer to violate the old rule that you can't switch points of view-- because readers process the prologue and the main narrative as two separate-but-related texts. If that makes sense. – MattDube 8 years ago

Want to write about Writing or other art forms?

Create writer account