For all the readers out there -- I'm curious. What is your opinion about opening a book with a prologue? Is it a good idea or a bad idea, or does it just depend upon the prologue? Do you skip reading the prologue? If so, why? Does a prologue turn you off? Why is this an issue?
To me, a prologue can be used to hook me or to provide me with information I need to know background information not easily provided in the story itself. It can foreshadow the ending or show me a scene that took place in the past that while important to the story, doesn't take place during the main story. However, it must be engaging. Don't tell me the information, show me what is going on. Now it is not always possible to do this, but the "telling" bits shouldn't be too long or you'll lose the reader.
I think it depends entirely on the story. I've added prologue to books where I thought one was needed. I've also added flashbacks which serve somewhat the same purpose.
I used a prologue for my first novel, Nowhere to run, but for book two I'm going straight into writing chapter one.
I think if you have a good hook and the prologue is there for a reason, then use it. If you can incorporate it into chapter one, then do that too.
It depends on how well done it is. I appreciate a prologue that doesn't give too much away. I find some authors put too much in it. For me I really find the prologues that help orient me to the book and hook me into reading it to be the best written and most helpful. I don't skip them ever, but if it seems too long I will skim it. Sometimes they really should be chapters and not prologues.
90% of the time I will skip the prologue. I almost never read them. On the rare occasions when I do read them it is because:
One of the best prologue's I've read lately was in the beginning of Gibbin House by Carola Perla. The protaganist in Gibbin House is a mute young woman. The prologue is a letter from Anka (the protaganist) to a man named Theodore. The rest of the book is third person so a letter from one character to another interested me enough to make me read it.
Depends on the story, really. Also depends on the skill of an author.
A good prologue can be something that sets the tone of the book and gets the reader hooked instantly. Alternatively, a bad prologue can bore the reader or confuse them to the point where they might decide to put the book down.
I'm with a lot of people here though, an author should ask if it's necessary first before writing it.