Elaine White is the author of multi-genre MM romance, celebrating 'love is love' and offering diversity in both genre and character within her stories.
Growing up in a small town and fighting cancer in her early teens taught her that life is short and dreams should be pursued. She lives vicariously through her independent, and often hellion characters, exploring all possibilities within the romantic universe.
The Winner of two Watty Awards – Collector's Dream (An Unpredictable Life) and Hidden Gem (Faithfully) – and an Honourable Mention in 2016's Rainbow Awards (A Royal Craving) Elaine is a self-professed geek, reading addict, and a romantic at heart.
I’m an author and reader, who just can’t get away from books. I discovered the MM genre a few years ago and became addicted.
Top #50 UK reviewer on Goodreads
#1 reviewer on Divine Magazine
I recently saw an author friend post about a complaint made in a review of one of their books - the reader hadn't read the Prologue, and complained that an important aspect of the plot hadn't been explained. But, as the author noted, that plot point had been properly explored IN the Prologue.
Another author did a poll about Prologues, and I couldn't believe the amount of people who said they didn't read them.
I mean, Prologues are the foundation of a book. They're there for a reason. If there is a Prologue in a book, then of course you're going to miss something important if you don't read it. I'm guessing this is the reason that a lot of authors and readers don't like Prologues. They don't like the thought that they *have* to read the Prologue to understand or set up the story/characters. But, heck, if it's there and you don't read it, then you're setting yourself up for some serious confusion. An author can choose not to use them, but if it's necessary and if it's a better way of understanding the plot, then USE IT!
(The same goes for Epilogues, but I'm going to focus on the Prologue issue, for now)
Don't be afraid of using a Prologue, just because some of the Big 5 claim that you *shouldn't* have one. Don't let them dictate what you do or don't do. If you book tells you that it needs a Prologue, then for all that is holy, put one in!
I can give countless examples of books that didn't have Prologues, but which needed them. I read one recently. You want to know why? Because there was a MASSIVE timeline gap between the start of Chapter 1 and halfway through. It didn't work, because after one scene in Chapter 1 it switched to a few years later, which was a timeline that it followed for most of the rest of the book. Now, if that first scene had been a Prologue, I would have been mentally set up to expect a huge change between that and Chapter 1's timeline, and or character POV. Instead, I was disorientated. Which wasn't necessary. But, the author made the choice to not use a Prologue, when it would have felt natural.
I, myself, use them all the time. I mean ALL the time. I've used Prologues 5 times, and Epilogues 9 times, which just shows how important I find both of them. And don't even get me started on how many are in my WIP's. I'm such a firm believer in using both, to proper advantage, that you'll find them in so many of my books that, be warned, if you skip them, NOTHING will make sense.
Why? Because sometimes it's important to refer to past events to explain what happens next. Or to show an event through one character's POV, especially if that character doesn't give their POV in the rest of the book. It's a great divider between what was and what will be.
Wikipedia describes Prologue as:
"an opening to a story that establishes the context and gives background details, often some earlier story that ties into the main one, and other miscellaneous information."
So, if you have a past event, a little detail that is going to be vitally important later, a minor character death that will spur on future events, or anything that you think the reader needs to know to understand your character, the plot, or to help them feel something for a brand new character, then don't shy away from putting it into a Prologue.
Here, I'm going to show you how I've used Prologues in my own books. I'll give a sample of the first sentence (if appropriate) and explain how it refers to the future events of the book, and why it couldn't be included in the main text.
The Chosen: from the Black Magic Anthology
The Prologue takes place in 2021, exploring a date night for MC River that goes drastically wrong, when the world is inundated by creatures from Hell, and other worlds. Chapter 1, after that, takes place 6 weeks later, once the world has completely changed. This was important, because I didn't want to describe the world changing, or show the apocalyptic stuff that could so easily be described in half a page. Instead, I used a Prologue to divide the two events clearly.
Underneath It All: Decadent, Book 4
In the Decadent series, I actually used the Epilogue in the same way as a Prologue (and the same argument applies for an Epilogue - which shows what happens weeks/months/years after 'The End') Book 4 was the exception, because it was the last book in the series that was about one individual couple. The following two books in the series bring everyone together.
Here, I used it to show an important event in Giovanni's life - leaving the mental hospital, after a schizophrenic episode, and returning to his college life. I had to show it in the Prologue, because I wanted to show the immediate effect and how he felt about his recovery, but I didn't want it to become depressive. Instead, Chapter 1 jumped forward 3 months, to give him time to recover from that episode, from being in the institute, and to show his growth after his treatment.
This book began with an action scene, which is unusual for me. My books were, until this point, all contemporary romance. But, the MC in this story is a bodyguard, and I wanted to show some real action and show what his job entailed, before delving into the romantic storyline that wouldn't see him really *being* a bodyguard again until nearly halfway through. This was important to show the relationship between the MC Christian, and his boss, Bobby, to explain why he would turn around and do something so out of his comfort zone later in the book.
Forged in Fire
This was a hard book to write, because it was all about the civilian partner of a war veteran. It was all in Innes' POV and, for that, I had to show what it was like for him to say goodbye to his partner, Arash, one more time. It's supposed to be his last tour, he was already supposed to be retired, and I wanted to show how tired he was of the process after decades of enduring it in silence. This was important, because what came next was Arash being taken captive by the enemy insurgents, while on tour. To make the reader really understand the guilt, the fear, and the regrets that plague Innes throughout the story, I needed to show their goodbye from six months earlier. The impact came in the goodbye, and without it, the rest of the story wouldn't have been so effective.
A Royal Craving: The Royal Series, Book 1
Spencer was the central character in The Royal Series, and he had a complex story to tell. As a human in a world ruled by vampires, I wanted to show just how human he was, that he had dreams and hopes and aspirations. That he was linked to the supernatural in a way all of his own, through the prophetess, who tried to guide him to his future.
Here, I started the Prologue in 2091, when Spencer was just fourteen years old, because I wanted to show just long he held onto his dreams, how long he worked hard and fought for what he wanted. When Chapter 1 picks up, he's five years older, wiser, and is one step closer to his future.