Here is an entertaining post about prologues by Blair MacGregor:
Common talk (and just about every critique group and workshop) says a writer should never use a prologue because prologues are so often written poorly. But… first chapters are often written poorly, too, as are fight scenes, descriptions, character backstory, depictions of horses, near-future science, and final chapters. But we do not advise writers to avoid writing them. We instead advise them to learn how to write them well.
I wish I’d said that. That is just so true.
MacGregor then goes on to analyze prologues a bit — what they’re for and how they work (or fail to work) and so on. The whole post is worth reading. Me, I mostly am not impressed by other people’s prologues and from time to time I read the first paragraph or so and skip the rest (and in that case, I may also skip the rest of the book). But sometimes I love prologues. It depends. Libba Bray’s prologue for BEAUTY QUEENS is wonderful.
I’ve put prologues in a couple of my books. And taken the prologue out again in one of them, come to think of it (MOUNTAIN, but a *lot* about that book changed from the first draft to the final draft, so it may not be fair to hold up as an example either way).
Anyway, nice post from Blair MacGregor — click through and read the whole thing if you have a few minutes.