The Prologue Tally

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 13.266% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

So after talking to some people who were firmly convinced that most people skip the prologue, my informal tally shows:

  • 64 yes
  • 7 yes but will skip ahead if the prologue sucks
  • 0 people who skip the prologue on the first read-through, though several people acknowledged prologue-skipping on subsequent rereads.

So yeah, if there are people who skip the prologue on the first read-through, they did not show up here.  And can safely be said to be ignorable.
So authors!  If you have a prologue, treat it like it’s your first chapter!  As, in fact, many people acknowledged not reading chapter headings, and they may not even realize it’s a prologue!
(This topic is of severe interest to me, as my upcoming book “Flex” has a prologue, which is basically a cross between Martin’s Ice Monster prologue and Cherie Priest’s RPG intro prologue, where you see how the magic system works.  It’s a risk, because someone may well decide, “I hate this character” or “This is too much work to process” and not move on, but I tried a lot of other structures and they all left beta readers even more confused.  I tried to start in media res, I really did, but there’s some times when you can’t just backseed.)
(And the novel’s fine, obviously, as people bought and they seem excited about it, but Perfectionist Steinmetz always seeks a better way.  And believes firmly that books without prologues are generally better structured than books with prologues.)

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