I attended my first ever writer's critique group last night. It was an interesting evening to say the least. The instructions were to bring a chapter of approximately 2500 words to share and discuss.
There were five others present with material to discuss. One was new, like me, and the others were old hats with either published materials or at least few rejection letters under their belts. Overall, I was impressed by the amount of work they had completed and their feedback.
Now, I must explain a few things before I continue. Firstly, I am an introvert. Meeting new people--not my cup of tea. Meeting new people for the express purpose of criticizing...excuse me...critiquing my work--OMG! Secondly, I am a speed reader. It wasn't something I learned, nor can I really explain how I read, but one thing I do know--reading out loud is akin to torture. I do know I tend to omit or stumble over descriptors and words like 'the', 'to', 'a/an', etc. They are a waste of my time and energy in reading, so when I read out loud, I have to force myself to recognize their existence. (Books with a lot of descriptions get skimmed or put down pretty quickly. Give me action and dialogue! My brain will fill in the rest.)
Back to the group. After I read my prologue, discussion ensued. Major discussion. There were two or three different factions. Now I realize that many will not like my story (genre, concept, style, etc) and I should not take that into consideration or be offended. But on my right was someone telling me my prologue had no hook, that it sounded like a ghost story and mystery rather than a romance, didn't understand who my audience was and she would put the book down. (Not helpful!!) The person on my left said she had no problem with the hook and liked the intro but needed see how the prologue tied in with the rest of the story.
Now I think the person on the left had a reasonable arguement and is often how I approach a novel. How does the opening/prologue tie into the rest of the book? I often don't see the connection until mid book or the end, but that's part of what keeps me going. One of the comments was that the character in the prologue needed to be the main character of the book. I've never heard that before and have read many prologues which did not include the main character. The prologue should tie into the main concept, but not necessarily the main character.