If the prologue is incredibly important to your story, call it chapter 1. If it's something that is only needed for people who care about lore then you can leave it as a prologue and the sort of people who care about it will read it and the rest will skip it and everyone is happy.
I like more intro to a story, and like to put some clues in them, but I know I lose readers because of I'm taking too long to get to what they want.
But knowing that people skip it, I treat them like extra info that people can miss out on and still experience the story, albeit maybe missing some lesser context.
- Seem to contain spoilers.
- Too lengthy.
- Makes zero sense to me.
When I do read prologues:
- Short and sweet.
- Necessary information that makes sense.
Also, a lot of readers will see "Prologue" and just immediately skip it because it isn't "Chapter 1". Most web readers want to get to the meat (content) of a story fairly fast, and some have learned to perceive prologues as info dumps, full of spoilers, etc. Basically, they think that marking something as "prologue" means it's optional to read or skippable (and to their credit, most prologues are these days), and they can enjoy the rest of the story without reading it.
Reason being is too many writers don't know what a prologue is. I've experienced these things far too often:
1. There are those who don't realize that a prologue isn't a 1st chapter. In these cases, I go back. Reading "1st chapter" first makes sure this isn't the case.
2. The famous info dumping. Seriously, I don't need an explanation on the stories magic system or races of the world at the beginning. I'm just going to forget it. I don't care yet. Explain it in story and show examples. That a lot more memorable.
3. History regaling. Now this is a depends because of how one writes it. If the information is going to be told in detail in the story. Then the prologue is irrelevant. If it's clearly written directly from world building notes, it doesn't need to be there either.
4. Using it as a hook to draw readers in, but it sets false expectation as the prologue sets up a different tone for the story than the one being told. Tone is very important for a story. Many just hear use a hook and they employ it by using a cheap tactic to trick readers. There are many like me who don't care for bait and switch.
5. A dream or a flashback sequence. I've learned not to like these because they all are the same. The character is being chased or in pain or both usually in reference to something that happened in the character's backstory.
6. And my least favorite, the monologue that explains how the world sucks and people are selfish blah, blah, blah. It wouldn't be so bad if every prologue like this didn't read the same. It's like they copied it from the same source.
And I wish I wasn't this way. I'm certain there are stories that have excellent prologues. And I'll go back and read them if the story catches my attention. However, for just first impression glance, I won't read a prologue.
L.J.Anders Wrote: 5. A dream or a flashback sequence. I've learned not to like these because they all are the same. The character is being chased or in pain or both usually in reference to something that happened in the character's backstory.I see you have read my prologue . But, no, honestly, I have a bit of that and hope I pulled it off well enough, knowing the damn trope all too well. Although that is a fever dream of a dying man and very much had been reality a few days ago. And he's not the protagonist, which would make for a rather short story.
That's only if the author didn't mistakenly label the First Chapter as Prologue, though.
As a writer, I used a prologue in my webserial for these reasons:
- it sets the mood of the story better than the first chapter does. It’s difficult to explain without spoilers, but basically it sets up character motivations and introduces both the world and an important element of the story that’s impossible to properly expand on in later chapters
- since there’s a huge time skip between the prologue and the rest of the story, it felt right to consider it a prologue rather than chapter 1
- It’s set in a place that the readers won’t see for a while but will become extremely important later on
Still debating. It has the most views at this point.
It's important that fictions have a back story and the characters and environment are not just empty husks without history. But what many author's fail to realize is that that history and back-story belongs in the author's head and not inside the story, and definitely not in the first few chapters. (For multiple reasons: Having a different story before the actual story usually means those stories are different enough that readers are either disappointed or never reach the actual story. Starting with the history of the characters also means that at the start of the story the plot misses history.)
Many of the genres often found on RoyalRoad have the challenge that they have some special event. Portal fantasies have the teleportion to another world. Reincarnators have the reincarnation. System apocalypse stories have the introduction of the system. The turmoil and shock and surprise in the MC that special event causes can be some glorious stories and there are often prominently found in some works either founding that genre or having introduced people to that genre. But that is usually only enough for some short story (unless it becomes unbelievingly boring). But many authors still try to start their fiction that way. Which means that the first few chapters of many fictions here are extremely boring and totally unrelated to later chapters. Sadly you can usually only skip the prologue/first chapter and not all the other boiler plate at the start of the fictions.