Talk about your prologue/Chapter 1

So, there are many who have love/hate relationship with prologues, So I want you all to talk about the beginning of your chapter how you started it, as many have said, the first chapter is the one which hooks the readers, what tactics have you used to hook them?

Guilty. I used a prologue and its a flashback as well. I needed to establish the prior relationship between the 2 mcs and also have the reader understand why one of them would act the way he does…

Its not the best but yeah…

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I try the Chapter 1 to be as much of ‘what you see is what you get’ in regards to the rest of the book.

I don’t want any artificial hooks or tricks. Voice, descriptions and character focus will be the same as in the rest of the book.

Chapter 1 is when and how the story starts.

Chapter 1 is my calling card.

Like what you see? Keep on reading. Hate it? Do leave, it is not going to change.

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I jumped straight in head first with my chapter 1 and plunged the reader deep into Saidy’s world. The first line accomplishes a few things that hook the reader from the start. It creates a mystery about the character that drive readers forward while introducing elements of her personality that strike the reader.

“Saidy fought not because her life depended on it, but because the edge of a blade was all she knew to be true.”

The line establishes that she’s not fighting because she’s afraid to die or at risk if dying, but because it’s all she knows. Why is it all she knows? Read on to find out.

I keep it up by delivering a powerful second paragraph that expands on her character, who she is, why she’s fighting, and why her life’s not necessarily in danger. Then I expose the fight that’s taking place, then I plunge the reader into why she fights—because she’s a slave and was ordered to. Finally, I end with and equally powerful line that drives the reader into the next chapter.

All my chapter one does is establish the main character and show the horrible state her life is in to hook readers and get them invested in Saidy. Every word was carefully chosen, every voice was distinctly crafted, every transition was rolled over and smoothed out to create a seamless blend between ideas. By the time the reader can stop holding their breath, they’ve already read well past chapter 1.

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I’m usually a slow burner when it comes to first chapters. You get some hints of trouble in a couple of mine. Some enticing beginnings, like breaking into a factory and finding out something you shouldn’t. Having a parking garage fall on top of you.

But usually, it’s simple hint to what the story might about, like reeling in the aftermath of a murder–without actually seeing the murder. It takes a me a chapter or two to really get into the meat and bones.

My ch 1 was actually my ch 2 until last week. I dunno, I feel like it flows better now. In one chapter, the MC is expressing concern for her sister’s welfare, and in the other, the sister is attacked by an antagonist. I originally meant for the former to provide explanation of what’s up before introducing the latter scene, but I like the dramatic irony of the readers knowing the sister was attacked before hearing the MC express concern.

I’ve always heard that prologues should be avoided, and while I don’t use them, it takes a lot of effort to put them out of my head.

For me, I’m okay with prologues. I can understand why people hate them (since it may not be necessary or it can be turned into the first chapter), but I just shrug at the thought of prologues. Don’t hate 'em, but it depends on how they’re written and utilized.

I’ve only used two prologues before out of all my stories. My dramatic romance had one and my teen fiction novella had one.

My current story doesn’t have one—it starts at chapter one.

So, the beginning of chapter one is where my MC (Asher) is in the passenger seat of a car with his friend, Caden (Caden’s driving). They’re driving up a snowy mountain to get to Asher’s family’s vacation house. Chapter one is dedicated to the exposition of why they’re there, introduction of all the characters, and a small hint as to the current state of things (such as Asher’s mentality).

I’m a descriptive writer, so I try my best not to be overly descriptive and describe too little. The first paragraph describes the atmosphere outside:

I watched the snow-covered trees go by through the car’s passenger-side window. Icicles hung from the branches, and layers of ice covered the bark.

Then it went into a conversation between Asher and his friend, and a small part of Asher’s mentality:

Here’s a later section:

After the incident, everything about this place faded into the empty spaces of my brain, far away from everything else I had remembered or thought about on a daily basis. All the amazing times we had in this mansion; from random vacations and camping trips to feasts and Christmas breaks.

Caden placed a hand on my shoulder. “Are ya gonna be okay?” I jumped, forgetting he was there. How long had I been standing here, staring at the house?

Staring at this place brought a near sense of fear and vulnerability to me that didn’t sit well with my stomach. My body could collapse in on itself, and all I wanted was to give up the idea of staying here and go back to Denver.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine.”

My feet stayed glued to the gravel, afraid of the memories that would come. I wanted nothing more than to want to be okay, but that feeling hadn’t come.

My main goal is to leave a sense of mystery for them to want to know more about what happened before and what might happen later on. I also ended the chapter on a slightly suspenseful note. First comers won’t know what I mean, but if you read the story again and pay close attention at the end of the first chapter, you can see that a character is lying about their whereabouts. I love putting hints at places where most people gloss over. c:

Hm…well, you could say that I went straight into the action with chapter 1. As I gave info to the readers, I gave it to them in a feasible way: like I created a dialogue between two characters and it’s not always monologue as it gets boring.
And as I go through the novel, I slowly release new info to the readers as I don’t want to info dump.

I have contemplated on whether I should keep my prologue or not, considering the fact that most editors/publishers/readers hate them. When people read it, they say I should keep it but Im still unsure (its not a flashback, its not romance relationship thing, its not a dream, it doesnt introduce the conflict in any way, it doesnt set the crime. It is a little snippet of what happens right before chapter one, but the reader still has no idea what exactly happened in the prologue (in a good way) as only one thing is explained; something is going down, but they dont know why, what, or exactly who is doing it)

soooo should I cut my prologue?

I used a prologue, but I had the intention that it would be skipped over. It’s a transcript from a board meeting in which the CEO of the company that features heavily in the book tells a group of scientists that they will be in charge of genetically-engineering and raising super-powered children to raise PR after the company had a nuclear radiation leak causes worldwide superpowers.

But it plays somewhat into the twist, and acts as a bonus bit of information, so I don’t mind if people skip it.

After all, the first chapter is a bank heist simulation.

My chapter one is the protag having a conversation with his fiancee’s father for her hand in marriage. After he gets his blessing, he leaves for an appointment with the tailor, is knocked over by some stupid kids, and meets a vampire who found his hat and made some weird gestures to scare the protag. The end lol

I have a prologue. Guilty! :stuck_out_tongue:

My prologue isn’t actually a prologue. It’s set in 2019, whereas the main story is set in 2013, so I guess it’s actually a “Prepilogue”?

The whole idea was to show my MC at his lowest ebb, with the main story acting to catch up with and then pass back into the present, and leading into a sequel that I have planned.

This is actually the first time I’ve heard that people don’t really like prologues so that’s good to know. My prologue is quite short it has a little less than 200 words. It’s in my protagonist’s pov (this part is kind of confusing since I’m not sure how to word it) but it’s her in the future after experiencing the ending of the book and kind of talking back on it but in a (what I hope is) mysterious way where it would try to get the reader intrigue and read on to find out what happens in the end.

Personally I would recommend cutting out your prologue and start with your chapter 1.

Start where your story begins.

Nobody is going to care about the character’s lowest point without knowing the character enough to fully understand the gravitas of that low. We don’t even know their names yet, so how can we understand how/why this is the low?

Plus, when you swing back around to it in the middle of the story, the impact will be dulled down since readers have already read it.

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I start the first chapter with the incident that set the story in motion. I am not the kind of writer that starts with the everyday normal stuff. Nope, dive right in. I start you out slow … slow … let you in on the problem. See it escalate and than BOM!! All hell breaks loose. I love that! Like a carcrash in slowmotion.

I am one of those people that read a few lines of the prolouge but then I (usually) get bored (if it is about something compleatly different then what the book is about) and you can’t see the connection to the book. Then I just want to read the story that I am expecting to read so I skipp it.

I’m in the no-prologue camp. My chapter one starts with the MC investigating the destruction of a small border town. The hook is a combination of mood (dark), the mysterious and gruesome deaths of the townspeople, mentions of a disintegrating peace at the borders, and a hint at the magic wielded by the MC and members of his party.

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Appreciated, truly. Never thought of it that way. Always seemed to make sense in my own mind, but that’s certainly an eye-opener.

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Probably just being funny and original in the first chapter is why people keep going. :woman_shrugging:

I don’t know, honestly.

I just showed the main characters life and him going to school. And then a spaceship crashed into the school.

Had a prologue, got negative feedback. Turned it into chapter one… Positive feedback. People be cray about prologues, man.

In terms of what happens in chapter one, in my epic fantasy, it sets up a conflict for one of the main characters that will be a driving motivation for her for the rest of the series. That was a prologue, but now it’s the first chapter, yay! Not much of a hook aside from some fancy description, which I’m sure drives people away, lol.

In my lighter-hearted fantasy (my friend hates when I call it that, because it’s still pretty bleak), there’s a five line flashback, and then we jump immediately into character development on the main character. That one in particular sets the tone for the whole novel, as the novel is interspersed with flashbacks as the main character has the ability to see the past. In that one, the flashback is also a hook, as the rest of the first chapter doesn’t have a lot of action/intrigue but the flashback does.

In terms of tactics, I think having a hook is good, especially if it can draw on/tie into the rest of the book! There’s nothing wrong with using tricks. Everyone else is doing it, after all, so why hold back? How you hook them is up to you, but remember that different genres call for different hooks! A lovely bit of description may be an excellent hook in chicklit but not so effective in an action novel.