Help Me Decide: To Prologue or Not to Prologue?

I’m stuck on whether or not to use a prologue for my book. Maybe you can help me decide by taking the following two single question polls.

My first question for you: Do you ever read the prologue to a book?

Now, to get more specific. Should I put the following information in a prologue or in the first chapter? Before taking the poll, here’s some information and excerpts to help you understand the decision I need to make.

The following is my prologue. I can’t decide if I should leave it as a prologue or make it the introductory paragraphs for the first chapter. The reason I have it separate for now is because the first chapter is actually a flashback to when my main character is a child.

Here’s the prologue:

Newman got up from his desk and stretched. He wasn’t sure how long he’d been at it, but sometime during his studying and writing, the sun had come up.

He twisted and rubbed his neck as he walked into the living room. He stopped when the bloodstains on the window frame caught his attention. He shifted his gaze to the stains on the grey damask sofa and then up to the ceiling, zooming in on the bullet hole.

Most days now, he could pass by without noticing these reminders of his past. It had been five years. He knew some people thought it strange he never patched the hole or removed the stains. But he didn’t want to forget where he’d come from – what he was saved from.

Shhh, man, I wish I could put all that in this sermon, he thought as he made his way into the kitchen.

Back at his desk with a fresh glass of water, he tried to get back to work. If I did tell that story, they’d probably kick me out of the church. He looked at the giant sticky note papers on the paneled wall to review the outline and thoughts he’d worked up so far for Sunday’s message. The title of the sermon was written in bold blue marker – From the Pit to the Palace. Lord, I want them to know you didn’t just do that for Joseph. You did that for me.

A few minutes later, he was thinking of another Bible passage. It was one he wasn’t planning to use in that week’s sermon. Am I my brother’s keeper? He pressed his fingers to his eyes to take away the sting of tears and hold them back.

After several more attempts to focus, he closed his Bible. He switched documents on the computer to work on the book instead. The truth has got to come out. There’s been too many lies. I’m tired of people not even knowing my real name. The feds already know I don’t want their protection from those in my past. And I’m tired of worrying about protecting my secret from those in my present. Twenty years has been long enough. His stomach churned as he started typing.

And here’s how the first chapter currently begins:

1 LITTLE MAN LEARNS THE HUSTLE

He was shy until he learned he could hustle. When he was a child, it was just a game. He never imagined it would become a game of life and death.

Newman “Little Man” Barton was known for walking the streets of his neighborhood with a newspaper or two under his arm. People said, “If you want to know what’s going on, ask Little Man. He’s always in that paper.” He also had a reputation for being charming and helpful. Newman’s love for the newspapers and his desire to be of assistance were traits instilled in him by his mother.

. . . He strolled along on his own more often than with his mother these days. The old heads on the bench outside the convenience store usually asked him to run inside and grab something for them. Honey buns were their favorite. They’d let him keep the change for his effort.

From there, he’d head over to the barbershop. It was just one of the places he was often called upon to help settle a bet by answering questions about the latest news or sports stats. The men always got a kick out of him being able to answer almost any question in the deep voice which had earned him his nickname.

“Hey, Little Man, how many field goals did Dr. J attempt last night against the Boston Celtics?”

“Dr. J was 10 of 25 from the field last night,” he’d answer with his broad, whole-face smile. That smile would usually make its way from his thick, broad lips into his cheekbones, causing them to round up toward his brown eyes, which in turn squinted almost shut … but not so much that the smile wasn’t still radiating out of them as well.

“Heh, I told you. Now, pay up,” the winner of the bet would chuckle to the loser. When the money was handed over, Newman was given his cut and he moved along to the next spot on his run. Making his hustle with the newspaper was one of his favorite childhood activities. Besides the fun of it all, he was glad he could bring home money to his mother who was struggling to raise six children without the support of a father in the home.

So, what do you think? Should I leave this as is or change it?

Thanks for your input.

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Sharing a Letter to Young Christian Feminists

While I’m on hiatus finishing up the editing on my book, here’s a great read from Cheryl Bridges Johns at The Junia Project. Beautifully written and spot on. With my book off the to-do list soon, I hope to be writing on several of the topics she so eloquently summarizes. Until then, blessings to you.

A Letter to Young Christian Feminists