Powerful Prologues

Learn what makes prologues work or fail in a story


Tiffany Yates Martin


Live on Nov. 30, 2022, or watch recording


Beginning fiction writers


Closed captions by Otter; transcript provided with recording

Writers are often told that agents and editors hate prologues, but if you thumb through the opening pages of published books, you’re reasonably likely to see one. How do so many make it past that alleged taboo?

Prologues aren’t anathema to a story. In fact, a well-used, well-executed prologue can set up an entire story, whet readers’ appetites, and add impact and resonance to everything that follows. But an ineffective prologue can stop readers at the starting line, keeping them (and agents and editors) from ever reading past page one.

In this online class, you’ll learn how to decide whether a prologue serves your story, and how to write one that feels essential, effective, and enhances the reader’s experience of the story. We’ll also examine the most common prologue pitfalls and how to avoid them, and use examples from published works to analyze prologues that work well—and those that may not.

You’ll learn:

  • The functions of a prologue
  • What makes prologues work within a story and what makes them fail
  • How to decide whether your story might benefit from a prologue
  • How to evaluate a prologue in your draft and determine its effectiveness
  • How to avoid—and address—the most common prologue pitfalls
  • Handling POV in prologue

Who should take this class

Authors of novels and memoirs who:

  • Have written or want to write prologues in their stories
  • Avoid prologues because they’re afraid of rejection
  • Struggle with how to open their story with a strong hook
  • Want a deeper understanding of story craft and structure

This class is not suited for

  • Writers of short-form work (short stories, articles, essays, poems)
  • Writers of prescriptive nonfiction, or anything that’s not story driven
  • Writers who want to learn about introductions, prefaces, and forewords (these are not the same thing as a prologue and are typically associated with nonfiction)

What’s included in all of Jane’s classes

How do I attend the live class?

This class uses Zoom webinar technology (see system requirements). You will join through your Internet-connected computer or mobile device. When you register, you will receive information via email on how to join the class. If you don’t receive it within 1 hour of registering, please contact us.

  • When: Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022
  • Time: 1:00–2:15 p.m. Eastern / 10:00 a.m. Pacific
  • Fee: $25

The webinar is broadcasted via the internet with live audio delivered through your computer or mobile device speakers. The visual presentation is displayed directly from the presenter’s computer to your computer screen. The Q&A is managed through a chat-style submission system with questions read and answered by the presenter for the entire class to hear.

Closed captions are provided during the live class. We use Zoom’s automated closed caption service (powered by Otter), which is about 80%+ accurate. We also use Otter AI to generate an unedited transcript, provided with the recording.

About the instructor

Tiffany Yates Martin has spent nearly thirty years as an editor in the publishing industry, working with major publishers and New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling and award-winning authors as well as indie and newer writers, and is the author of the Amazon bestseller Intuitive Editing: A Creative and Practical Guide to Revising Your Writing. She’s led workshops and seminars for conferences and writers’ groups across the country and is a frequent contributor to writers’ sites and publications. Under the pen name Phoebe Fox, she’s the author of six novels, including her most recent release, The Way We Weren’t (Berkley/PRH).

Everything was clear and concise from Tiffany. Not a moment was wasted, which made all the learning fun and interesting. I also loved the examples shared. I’m a new fan!

Terri T.

Bang on. Tiffany nailed it. Just what I was looking for to put the pre-editing touches on my manuscripts.

Desiree C.

This webinar was so helpful, with clear explanations and specific steps to take. The examples highlighted each of the techniques, which will be invaluable. My reading will be more active now.

Michale R.

All students receive the following

  • Access to the live class. After roughly 60 minutes, the instructor will take questions during class using in-class chat/text. The class will end after roughly 75 minutes.
  • A recording of the class—audio and video. This is especially helpful if you have a conflict with the class time or something comes up and you can’t make the session. Each registration comes with access to the archived version of the program and the materials for 30 days. You do not have to attend the live event to access the recordings.
  • Presentation slides. All participants receive a copy of the slide presentation in PDF form.
  • Rough transcript. We use Otter to create an automated transcript of the entire webinar, which we’ll share with you in addition to the audio and video recording.

Event Attendance & Anti-Harassment Policy

We strive to provide an environment where all present—whether attendee, presenter, or staff—can feel supported. In order to ensure a welcoming event, here is what we expect from all who participate.

  • That the presenter and the presenter’s work be treated with respect by attendees and that all attendees treat each other with respect and a generosity of spirit.
  • That attendees will refrain from harassment of any sort including (but not limited to) comments or questions of a racist, homophobic, sexist/sexual, or threatening nature. This includes actions that disrupt or interfere with anyone’s ability to participate. Offenders will be disconnected from the live event.