Often people fail to understand the difference between a preface and a prologue, most of the time interchanging the former with the latter. It is important to have all components of the book in place so that the story flows smoothly, especially the matter which builds up curiosity about the story – Preface/Prologue.
Preface comes from the Latin word ‘prae’ and ‘fatia’ which means ‘spoken before’. A preface is a personal account of events or experiences that made the author pen down the story. It also includes the time frame involved, amount of research done and in some cases thanking the people who helped the author during the entire process. A preface is usually of one page and it is advisable not to exceed it beyond two pages as it tends to irritate the readers. The preface is often signed by the author along with the date and place.
Prologue comes from the Greek word ‘prologos’, where ‘pro’ means ‘before’ and ‘logos’ means ‘word’. A prologue is often an introductory scene that later builds up the story, narrated by the protagonist or an omniscient narrator. The prologue later ties up with the main story; it also provides additional information about the characters or clues about the storyline which helps to set the pace for the main story. A prologue is a part of the main story, unlike the preface.
Usually a book carries either of the two but in some cases the author may decide to include both. The preface and the prologue both, tend to affect the readability of the entire book and hence, the author has to be careful he does not confuse the two.