The Good, but not Perfect, Prologue

Excavation (by Rollins) has the perfect prologue. It is not taken from the middle of the book, it occurs more than 400 years before. It is an action scene, signalling an action book. There's a good hook, which focuses on the main issue for the book.

But it's not perfect. First, it lacks meaning, because it lacks context. The reader does not know what the main character is doing. This is an avoidable problem . . . but it's difficult to avoid. In this book, the author uses this for a hook of mystery.

Second, I will remind you again that a book asks a reader to construct a world, and that is not simple to do. This prologue creates a character and world that quickly disappears; the next chapter begins in the present and the reader must create a new world.

This problem is a natural consequence of starting with something before the story that is not the story.

This is not to say that all prologues are bad; a writer might reasonably think a particular prologue enhances the reader experience of the book. But they always to have problems.

And here I should note that when the prologue is taken from the middle of the book, this particular problem does not occur. But there are other problems, the most obvious being spoiling.