"I was thinking of horrible prologues for my book when . . . one of them was good!"
"Emma? Why in the world were you thinking of horrible prologues for your book?"
He realizes his mistake. "Never mind, go on."
"I call it a mini-prologue: short, no spoiler, and it helps the reader see where the book is going and like the start better. And it probably helps sell the book."
"Why can't I understand anything you just said?"
I get so tired of having complicated ideas.
The Mini-Prologueby Emma Sohan
In the excellent book Being Sloane Jacobs, one girl is sent to hockey camp and the other is sent to figure skating camp. The book really gets started when they changes places. The start is mostly setting and character, done well, but . . . it would be a little more enjoyable if the reader knew where the story was going.
"You couldn't last one day in my skates," I say.
Importantly, this spoils nothing – it suggests they will trade places, but like I said the story doesn't really get started until they do.
Also, I should say that it goes in italics. So the reader knows it's a mini-prologue.
And that's it – the mini-prologue. I have more examples. (read one)
Emotions Girl is first a romance (love story), and that's obvious from the start. But it also turns into an action book. It helps the start if the reader knows where the book is going. My mini-prologue:
I vaguely remember shooting that guy. I don't remember picking up – or even having – that gun. Danger – I remember that.
The actual start is so different from that, it creates a nice contrast.
Blind Spot turns into a murder mystery at the half-way mark. You can read the book without knowing that, and it's a good book. But the author wanted the reader to know that the second half was coming. She solved that problem with a prologue, but in my opinion her prologue had too much information -- it interfered with enjoying the first half of story. And some readers skip prologues.
This is, again, the ideal situation to at least consider a mini-prologue. Perhaps:
Was she murdered? I had to find out what happened that night; I had to fill in the gaps in my memory.
A "true" prologue describes events that happened before the story started. They aren't so much a problem. A prologue that describes events happening during the story is in danger of being a spoiler. You should consider the mini-prologue whenever you have a prologue, but especially when your full prologue is an event in the story.