Your search has come to an end: Here are 10 steps to take if you want to create a prologue even the staunchest of opposers will find hard to criticize.
Ready? Let's go!
1. Choose a scene from a key point in your novel.
If a character happens to be in danger, dead, or otherwise painful circumstances, cut and paste that tension-filled scene into the beginning of your novel. This will serve to reduce the risk of heart failure, severe paper cuts, and falling off of chairs for your readers when the plot twists come. An honorable reader enjoys knowing what will happen later in the book.
NOTE: It is even better when you repeat this scene later on and force readers to slog through it all over again.
2. If there is no other suitably tension-filled scene to choose, use the ending.
Be sure not to change a thing when you move it from the end to the prologue, either--the more spoilers the better!
3. And if there aren't any tension-filled scenes at all (kudos), pick the most boring one.
OOH LOOK. The character is brushing their teeth! What fine dental strategy! Gets me tingling all over, that does.
4. Make sure there is no stylistic similarity between the prologue and the rest of the novel.
Is your style short and to the point? Write your prologue using lots of flowery language and/or metaphors. For example:
Page 205: "I is gonna blow up this building!" said Smith.
Prologue: And then our bold and courageous protagonist, with the most knightly of intentions, went to rescue the incapacitated and dying goddess of his universe, utilizing the most stunning of torpedoes. He exclaimed, triumphantly, "Beware, all evil parasites of the Earth! I am preparing to send you to the deepest parts of Hell!"
5. Use a dream.
Everybody simply adores dream scenes in books. They add such nice ambiguity and potential/probable pointlessness.
6. Take the opportunity and explain everything about your world.
Readers are always willing to get to know every single little detail of the place the characters live in; you know, history, culture, current economic state, seismic activity, how the world came to be, etc., etc.
7. Set it in the future where the character is obviously alive.
This may actually be even more stress-reducing than cutting and pasting part of your ending.
8. Center your prologue around an unrelated thing.
Writing about a woman on a quest to find the all-powerful crown-doohickey with which she can defeat the bad guy? No problem. Feel free to talk about whatever you please in the prologue. Who wants to know what they're getting into before they start reading?
9. Make appear that you're writing in a different genre than you actually are.
Closely related to #4, it is an effective strategy for attracting the attention of a new audience. Because instead of just getting readers from, say, Literary/Contemporary/Realistic Fiction, you'll get irritated readers of Science Fiction and Fantasy along with irritated readers of Literary/Contemporary/Realistic Fiction. And they'll all spread the word about your novel (forget what they're saying about it).
10. Using your main character's voice, slowly and hesitantly, with many starts and stops, explain why the character (i.e. you) decided to write this book.
J'adore uncertain characters. Nothing like a little "Oh, I can't do this . . . wait, I must, or the world will explode! . . . no, wait, I can't, or I'll explode . . . but no, I have to! . . . no, I just simply can't . . . oh, all right, all right, I'll finish . . . no, THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE . . . but if I don't . . ."
And there are the 10 Effective Steps For Writing A Winning Prologue.
DISCLAIMER: The author of this article accepts no liability for those souls who actually follow these instructions. If you really want to write a good prologue, then you should do absolutely everything possible to avoid what I just said.
And before you ask, yes, I have come across these types of prologues in books.
What do you think of prologues?
-----The Golden Eagle