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View Poll Results: Do you usually skip prologues?

156. You may not vote on this poll
  • Yes, I usually skip prologues

    17 10.90%
  • No, I usually read prologues

    118 75.64%
  • It depends

    21 13.46%
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Thread: The Prologue Poll Thread (thread from 2012)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2006

    The Prologue Poll Thread (thread from 2012)

    My intention in creating this thread is to poll members to see whether their reading habits are inline with the oft stated "A lot of readers skip prologues".

    There have been many prologue threads and a fair number have been closed by the mods after the discussion became heated. I'd like to avoid that happening here, so I'm respectfully asking that you refrain from general prologue discussion in this thread, and that if unacceptable posts are made the moderators consider removing posts rather than closing the thread. Well, we live in hope.

    So there you have it. If you usually skip prologues, please select that poll option. If you usually read prologues, please select that poll option. If you sometimes skip/read depending on some factor or another, please select that option. If you don't fit into any of those categories, this poll is not for you.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Tyrant King jeffo20's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
    Central New York
    I just saw someone in a thread today say, "Most readers skip prologues" and I gritted my teeth and sat on my fingers until I could reply to the main point of the thread (which was not about prologues) without asking about their scientific survey or being snarky (like, 'just because YOU skip prologues....'). So I'll be interested in seeing what people have to say here.

    [edit]Oh, yeah, and I always read prologues.
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  3. #3
    Benefactor Member Nymtoc's Avatar
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    Sep 2007
    Between the lines
    I have to put in my two-cents worth. I checked "I usually read prologues," but I often read them (skim them) quickly.

    "Ignorance is an evil weed, which dictators may cultivate among their dupes, but which no democracy can afford among its citizens." -- William Beveridge

  4. #4
    following a secret path year90ninezero's Avatar
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    Jun 2009
    Milwaukee, WI
    I'd never heard of someone not reading a prologue until I came here. I haven't heard about it since.

  5. #5
    They've been very bad, Mr Flibble Mr Flibble's Avatar
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    Jan 2008
    We couldn't possibly do that. Who'd clear up the mess?
    I clicked I read prologues

    Up until they realise themselves as 'here is a potted version of the history if the last two thousand years' in which case I put the (usually quite old) book down. I haven't seen that sort of prologue in a modern book for some time, and I usually like the ones I see now (that is, a scene that relates to/is part of the story, just separated in time/place).

    "Fade to Black is a dynamic and original introduction to a world and character that promise further exciting stories". British Fantasy Society

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  6. #6
    Caped Codder jaksen's Avatar
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    Sep 2010
    In MA, USA, across from a 17th century cemetery
    I read them, but I thought a lot of people skipped them. Perhaps I'm wrong.

    I also scan maps, family trees and any other extra stuff that's in a book. I actually love maps.
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  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW heza's Avatar
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    Sep 2010
    If it looks like the prologue is warranted or short, I read it. If it's long, I'll start skimming. If it starts to look like I can survive without the information, I'll skip the rest of it... perhaps coming back later to read it again if I suspect I really did miss something of note. (But then, I'm annoyed that the author didn't just put that information where I needed it.)

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  8. #8
    Slave to the Wordcount WildScribe's Avatar
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    Aug 2006
    Quote Originally Posted by IdiotsRUs View Post
    I clicked I read prologues

    Up until they realise themselves as 'here is a potted version of the history if the last two thousand years' in which case I put the (usually quite old) book down. I haven't seen that sort of prologue in a modern book for some time, and I usually like the ones I see now (that is, a scene that relates to/is part of the story, just separated in time/place).
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  9. #9
    Zombie lovin' elindsen's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
    somewhere between hell and back
    I always do. It is a part of the story. Personally, I don't understand the hatred towards them.

  10. #10
    I read a lot of mysteries, and the prologue is almost always the murder, sometimes from the victim's POV, sometimes the murderer's. It's usually fun in a bloody sort of way.

    I read everything (until I grow bored, if applicable) but have been known to skim over long static descriptions. I read footnotes. I read endnotes. I read about the freakin' typeface! "This book was set in new hemi-Garamond blah blah blah invented by some dull guy who is dust now." I'm not sure that has ever added anything to my life, but I can't help myself.

  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW meowzbark's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    I always read prologues, but I might not read it until after the first chapter or two. Same with maps. I'll read them after I get hooked on the story.
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  12. #12
    The grad students did it NeuroFizz's Avatar
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    Apr 2005
    Coastal North Carolina
    I bought the book, I read the book. But I am sensitive to how an author treats a prologue. If it's just a big info dump, I'll likely find other issues with the story that indicate that this author is not for me. If that is the case, I won't buy any more of his/her books. If the author is skillful in the use of prologues, I'll make mental note of that as well.
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  13. #13
    Woof! MetalDog's Avatar
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    Jan 2009
    Greater London
    I don't see a lot of prologues in the books I read these days. I think I am instantly suspicious when I see the word 'prologue' that the author is about to bore me with insecure info-dumping. This is probably very unfair but a lot of 70's and 80's novels made me very prologue gunshy and a lot of new writers seem to produce the wall-o-text prologues which at least get all the exposition/history out of the way in one easy to skip chunk =D

    A proper scene as a prologue, I will read, with caution.

  14. #14
    Feeling like an old timer rainsmom's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Pacific NW
    I put "it depends." In published books I generally read them. Generally. But I find that in unpublished works-in-progress, most prologues are unnecessary.

    I don't get why people think they need to tease the later action. I'll get there. Are you afraid your beginning isn't enticing enough? Um, that's a problem with your beginning, and a prologue isn't the answer.
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  15. #15
    Burninator! CrastersBabies's Avatar
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    Sep 2011
    Quote Originally Posted by year90ninezero View Post
    I'd never heard of someone not reading a prologue until I came here. I haven't heard about it since.
    Same here. I also wonder if it's people who read/write certain genres who do not read it, but ahh well. When I went to my writing group of 5 years and asked if any of them skipped prologues, they looked at me like I had grown another head.
    "That is hoity-toity nonsense." ~ Bufty

  16. #16
    The Anti-Magdalene KellyAssauer's Avatar
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    Mar 2006
    I just checked the last seven novels I've read...
    and none of them have prologues.

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  17. #17
    practical experience, FTW rwm4768's Avatar
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    Jan 2012
    I don't skip prologues, though I do get upset if a prologue is an info dump. In my current WIP, I have a prologue, but it's not an info dump. It's actually a battle scene. It just happens to take place 500 years before the rest of the book, so it would be odd to call it chapter 1.

  18. #18
    practical experience, FTW Al Stevens's Avatar
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    Mar 2011
    Quote Originally Posted by RobJ View Post
    If you usually skip prologues, please select that poll option. If you usually read prologues, please select that poll option. If you sometimes skip/read depending on some factor or another, please select that option. If you don't fit into any of those categories, this poll is not for you.
    Then it's not for me. I always read prologues, not just usually.

  19. #19
    Historicals and Horror rule donroc's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Winter Haven, Florida
    I read prologues, forewords, prefaces, introductions, and everything else at the beginning of a book I purchase.

    "Chronology is not destiny"
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    "If, as Napoleon said, History is a myth agreed upon, let mine be the definitive myth."
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  20. #20
    Liker Of Happy Things Mharvey's Avatar
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    Jul 2008
    The Nexus
    Use a prologue right and it's a legit tool. The author put it there for a reason and, if it's a published work, an agent and God knows how many publishers/editors agreed it wasn't wasted space.

    Skipping a prologue makes as much sense to me as skipping chapter one.
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  21. #21
    Makes useful distinctions Lady Ice's Avatar
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    Sep 2009
    I might skim it if it seems to be info-dumpy but if it has some action in it, I'll definitely read it.

    Who cares if some people will skip it? If they don't want to read it, that's their problem (unless your prologue is really dense or dull).
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  22. #22
    Making my own sunshine AW Moderator heyjude's Avatar
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    May 2007
    Gulf coast of FL
    I skim. If it grabs my attention, I'll read. If not, I don't hold out a lot of hope for the rest of the book, but I'll try chapter 1.

  23. #23
    practical experience, FTW
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    Nov 2008
    I think it was the prologue in Sabriel that put me off them. It set up a situation and characters and then the narrative jumped twenty years in ch1. I hated that feeling of a) losing out on what I thought the story was going to be and b) starting all over again with a new situation and new characters. Nor did I feel by the end that I'd have missed out on anything by skipping it. If the information in the prologue's that important, it shouldn't be just tacked on at the start. Conversely, if it can be just tacked on at the start, it probably isn't that important. YMMV

  24. #24
    DenturePunk writer bearilou's Avatar
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    Aug 2009
    yawping barbarically over the roofs of the world
    Put me down as another 'I read' but like many above, it's with caveats.

    I skim if it starts getting boring. I skim if I'm treated to an historical event that is prior to the events of the novel and the characters showcased in the prologue aren't matching up with the blurb names (or characters that I know are the focus of the book).

    If what I'm reading smacks of authorial desperation that I simply will not 'get it' in their novel so they're going to shovel exposition down my throat, I skim and, like heyjude, tend not to hold out much hope for the rest of the book.

    So I read them in the hopes that 'this one will be the prologue that justifies its existence in the novel'. And I'm usually disappointed that I even gave it a shot. If they've disappointed me with their prologue, they better have a cracking good first chapter to hold me.

    And as NeuroFizz indicated, I usually end up making note of the author. If I'm impressed with the prologue, I'll give them my full attention for anything else they write. If they don't, it will color my possible future buying habits.
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  25. #25
    nutruring tomorrows criminals today PorterStarrByrd's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
    Moose Creek, Maine
    I always at least start prologues ... Author has some info that might make the rest of the book make a little more sense.

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