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Cozy Mystery Prologues
Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 3:58 PM
Joined: 6/18/2014
Posts: 2

I'm working on my first cozy mystery, which has a prologue.  Been getting feedback that they are "out" now.  Any thoughts?  I have a few currently published favorite authors that use them.  They are very effective for setting the scene and placing the hook.  What do you think (as a reader or a writer, of course)?
D J Lutz
Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 7:39 PM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 130

I suppose a literary agent or publisher would have the best advice on prologues, but here are my two cents. Write the prologue and then move on to the novel. If, at the end, you still need the prologue then consider keeping it. Maybe what you have is really chapter one? However, you may also find the essential details of your prologue have somehow found there way into the story. If so, 86 the prologue.


 I agree with the concept of prologues coming into and going out of favor. I have seen both, sometimes in books within the same series. I do not use them. If it's essential information, I try to find a way to put it into the story, hopefully through action (showing not telling.)


On a practical level, I have been researching literary agents lately. They all request a brief query letter and either the first 10-20 pages or the first chapter. Here's the rub: if there is an essential element of my story in the prologue, possibly even the hook, how would the agent see it?


I'm not saying it can't be done, or done well; I am just not sure this is the era of the prologue. Best of luck on the book!

Jay Greenstein
Posted: Monday, July 21, 2014 8:56 PM

People advise against prologues because most new writers handle them so badly, and don't understand their function. If you're using it to show the crime and set the scene for the actual story, it's what mysteries often do.


But in the end the question is: does this prologue work for this story. And the only way I know to find that out is to post it and get reaction.

Posted: Monday, October 5, 2015 12:42 PM
Joined: 8/29/2015
Posts: 16

Things go in and out of favour. I don't worry about that too much and I don't think readers do, either. There is a prologue in my second book, Horse Sense. It is a short phone conversation between two unidentified characters and it sets up the mystery. I had a very short (one paragraph) prologue in my third book, Frog Legs. It was the murder scene. However, that necessitated some time shifts and I finally decided to do without it. I've actually used it as my short pitch. I'm a firm believer in, if you can make it work, do it. That being said, if it doesn't add anything to the book, do without it.

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