Pro-logue or Against -logue

This week, I entered Wycaan Master/At the Walls of Galbrieth, the first of my Alliance series, into the San Francisco Writer’s Conference Indie Awards. In three weeks, I will submit it to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

Both competitions require the first 5,000 words of the novel and abruptly I find myself needing to make a critical decision. I have written a prologue, a short but hopefully eloquent setting of the scene.

Prologues are not always acceptable. When I presented the prologue to my writer’s group, the jury was out and, though I was not hung, neither was I acquitted.

It seems that prologues are more acceptable in the fantasy genre than others. Critiques have suggested that a prologue is there to mask a slow beginning or a lack of a hook.

One ring to bind them all… opened the master and we were duly bound for three long volumes, cartoon series, and epic movies. Now the epic fantasy world waits with bated breath for The Hobbit movie, even though we all know what happens.

Since my novel is directed at the YA audience I made sure to begin the novel at a fast pace. I can imagine many teens skimming the prologue, though I hope they will value it in later years when they ritually return to the series as I, and many of you, return to read LOTR every few years.

So, a couple of weeks before decision time, I wish to ask:

How do you feel about a prologue for an epic fantasy novel? Does the reader want it, the agent accept it and the publisher allow it?

Your comments and advice are gratefully received. Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year.


Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He has written two fantasy novels and the first will enter the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in January 2012. More on Alon Shalev at on Twitter (@elfwriter).