I recently had the pleasure of speaking at an event hosted by the Carthage Book Club at the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. About seventy-five people attended, and we had a blast talking about inspiration, where it goes when it disappears, and how to get it back.
Having this many book lovers as a captive audience gave me a chance to run a statistically insignificant survey about the contentious topic of prologues - see original post on the controversy here.
This is what I discovered:
When I asked people to raise their hands if they read prologues, I got blank looks, nods, and a few raised hands.
When I asked people to raise their hands if they actively skip prologues, I got blanker looks and no raised hands.
So I asked people to raise their hands if they read a prologue if it's in the book, and every hand went up.
What I took from these results is that readers start reading wherever the book starts, whether the author calls that start a Prologue or Chapter 1 or something descriptive or nothing at all. As long as the beginning of a book draws them in, readers don't care what we call that beginning.
Will this tiny survey settle the debate? Not for the wider community, but it does for me.
Long live the prologue!
I'm off to go write another prologue, but I'm curious: does this feedback have any impact on whether you'll include a prologue in your next book?