I was recently asked what a Preface was and whether it was the same as an Introduction or Foreword.
The answer to the latter part of the question is a resounding No! The three, while preceding your manuscript, serve different functions.
The Preface is written by you, the author as a way to provide a short introductory narrative about the “why” of the book. What was the impetus and/or impulse that led to the upcoming novel. It is a peek inward, giving readers a glimpse of your motives for telling this particular story. Ironically, it is usually written after your final draft. It is also generally separated from body of the manuscript.
An Introduction is also written by you, the author. It’s function is to introduce the book, set it up, share information that might be hidden in your story. It’s usually background that is helpful for the reader but not necessarily part of the story. It becomes the first chapter in your book, not as an official chapter. It flows naturally into the main story.
A Foreword is written by someone other than the author. It’s purpose is to give credibility to the work and the author. Usually, a Foreword is reserved for more technical non-fiction work. Look at it as a qualifier. It is separate from the story.
None of them are absolute necessities. They are props to enhance your work.
Technically, I’ve never used any of them in my writing except for the latest, Yes, There Is a Santa … and I’ve Met Him Personally Many Times. There I employed the Introduction technique, more to explain why I was writing this book. It initially was written for grandchildren and great-grandchildren and I felt that a wider audience would need that background.
It was short and sweet.
“I’ve heard there are some people who don’t believe in Santa Claus!
That’s just silly. I can tell you from personal experience, there IS a Santa Claus. I not only believe it but I’ve actually met the jolly old elf not once, not twice, but many, many times. He is as real as – well – me!
So, I thought I would share some of my interactions with Santa so you can believe too!”
Although I didn’t identify it as an Introduction, there was a Prelude to My Name Is Sam … and Heaven Is Still Shining Through. It was written as a personal letter from Sam.
“The morning sky is dark with rolling clouds as I sit on a boardwalk bench in Seaside Heights, NJ, just reflecting about how blessed my life has been … So, today I lean back and continue to breathe in the salt water-tinged air and feel the sun on my face, constantly reminded of God’s presence in the ordinary as He allows heaven to shine through.
I felt the letter was the bridge connecting the novella Heaven Shining Through with the spinoff, but I didn’t want to call it an Introduction. I wanted something more personal.
I hope that helps. As always, I emphasize the rules of writing are more suggestions for writing.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: No matter how hard you get knocked down, get back up again. Eventually, you won’t get knocked down. — Elizabeth Holmes