Do I really need that prologue?

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Writer’s Digest posts a Literary Agents blog with good advice. Today I got an e-mail that expanded the “pet peeves” of five agents.

“Most agents hate prologues. Just make the first chapter relevant and well written.”
– Andrea Brown, Andrea Brown Literary Agency

“Slow writing with a lot of description puts me off very quickly. I like a first chapter that moves quickly and draws me in so I’m immediately hooked.”
– Andrea Hurst, Andrea Hurst Literary Management

“Avoid any description of the weather.”
– Denise Marcil, Denise Marcil Literary Agency

“I don’t like it when the main character dies at the end of Chapter 1. Why did I just spend all this time with this character? I feel cheated.”
– Cricket Freeman, The August Agency

“A cheesy hook drives me nuts. They say ‘Open with a hook!’ to grab the reader. That’s true, but there’s a fine line between an intriguing hook and one that’s just silly. An example of a silly hook would be opening with a line of overtly sexual dialogue. Or opening with a hook that’s just too convoluted to be truly interesting.”
– Daniel Lazar, Writers House

” ‘The Weather’ is always a problem – the author feels he has to set up the scene and tell us who the characters are, etc. I like starting a story in media res.”
– Elizabeth Pomada, Larsen-Pomada Literary Agents

Viral Times has a prologue of 900 words. Does my novel need it? I believe it, which represents another tip of publishing and writing: Follow your voice, especially if you have tried alternatives. For my book, there’s too much sweep of character and time and place to get a sense of what’s at stake, and the state of the world 20 years from now.

But you can choose for yourself. Making choices is the artist’s work, after all. And your joy, if you can embrace the choosing.

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