I've been thinking about first chapters lately. I posted the first chapter of my wip a couple of weeks ago, and so many of you were gracious enough to stop by and give me wonderful words of encouragement and helpful suggestions. But I've been thinking about that first chapter and wondering if it's enough to catch an editor's attention. The first chapter has to be so compelling that someone with seventeen ceiling-high stacks of manuscripts beside their desk can't put it down. While my chapter does what it has to do, I don't think it has the zing necessary to keep that editor reading.
I've often read/heard the advice not to start with a prologue, but I think that's what this book needs. So I started looking around at other books in the same genre. I consider Killing Kessler a paranormal romance, so just a quick survey of first chapters of books on my bookshelf reveals:
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr - a one-and-a-half page prologue that describes an event that took place before the book begins and is connected to the rest of the plot, but still separate from it;
Tithe by Holly Black - a five-page prologue which takes place shortly before the events of the book and could have been called Chapter One;
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer -a one-page preface that describes the climax scene but isn't actually included in that later chapter, a snippet of something yet to come;
Fallen by Lauren Kate - a seven-page prologue that describes an event that took place before the book began and, like Wicked Lovely, is connected to the rest of the plot but still separate from it.
This is a sketchy list, to be sure, but it does reveal that prologues are very much in use today. So now I'm wondering how the rest of you feel about prologues. Do you use them or try to avoid them? Have you been given any good advice that you could share? I'd love to hear your thoughts!