I want to talk about a fiction book I'm working on but can't find what to call the intro. A 'foreword' is generally written by someone other than the author, and I read that an 'introduction' is used for non-fiction books. I heard about a 'preface', but I'm not sure if that's what I should use. What word can I use for an introduction to a fiction book?

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    Introduction is used frequently when a scholar writes introductory material for a classic. But there should be no reason to write an introduction for a new work. It should stand alone.
    – user16226
    Jan 6, 2017 at 19:07
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    what are you introducing? What content would go in this section? Jan 6, 2017 at 19:16
  • The story may be sort of confusing, so I want to talk a bit about it to help people understand it better.
    – Typo
    Jan 7, 2017 at 3:26
  • Preface, I think. Here's a source: bpsbooks.com/BPS-Books-blog/bid/21727/…. // OR: let's say the thing that might be confusing is, for example, the setting. You could title that first part "A Note about the Setting." Jan 7, 2017 at 3:46

1 Answer 1


The two words which come to mind for me are:

  • Prologue (or prolog) - would work especially well if writing an epilogue
  • Prelude

Another word which might be used is preamble, but I don't think that would work as well.


Conversely to annotating the introduction, you could always put it at the beginning and not call it anything. If the chapters are annotated in some way, either by number or name, leaving your introduction separate without a name will distinguish it from the book itself.

  • Prologue is absolutely the right word if the beginning material is part of the story, but not if it is outside the novel's reality. I've only ever heard prelude used in a musical context --it doesn't suggest the desired meaning to me. Jan 6, 2017 at 20:21
  • Tom Robbins does this pretty frequently, just making his first chapter a reflection on the upcoming story. Jitterbug Perfume gives this chapter its own name, "Today's Special," in Still Life with Woodpecker it's "Prologue," in Skinny Legs and All it's "Prelude." Jan 6, 2017 at 21:13
  • For what I'm working on, 'backstory' may work as well, although it's not as commonly used and may be a bit confusing.
    – Typo
    Jan 7, 2017 at 19:29

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