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That is the question lingering in my mind as I digest the feedback from this year’s ACFW Genesis contest.

Some of the judges didn’t feel a real connection to my protagonist or understand why the search for her brother mattered so much to her. It’s a thread that carries throughout the entire book as she tries to regain that sense of security she had as a child. I’d sprinkled hints of backstory into my first chapter, but it appears it wasn’t enough to hook them as readers. Or make them care.

Now, I’m considering adding a prologue. A very short scene from the POV of an orphaned six-year-old discovering that her baby brother has been moved to another foster home and is being adopted. Showing her raw emotions at the destruction of what little family she has left. Revealing her childhood promise to find him and take care of him like she’d promised Mommy and Daddy.

Then the story would flash-forward to chapter one as currently written. She’s out of college and finally has a solid lead to aid her search, leading her to pursue a job in another town. (It opens as she’s walking into the job interview.)

In general, opinions in the writing community are mixed (and heated) when it comes to prologues. Never use one because readers don’t read them. It’s a good way to set the mood or incorporate another point of view. Only a flimsy excuse for a backstory dump. Wonderful if used correctly (whatever that means).

So, I’m currently debating whether to add a prologue or not. I’m leaning towards the possibilities of strengthening reader empathy for my character while showing the necessary backstory. But, if it doesn’t work out, I can always cut it. Right?

What about you? Have you used a prologue? Why or why not? Do you have an opinion about what I should do?

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