(Sorry in advance that I'm terrible at explaining myself, thus making this post ridiculously long.) I'm writing a collection of short stories that together basically form a novella. The stories are written in different tenses and POV throughout (at least at this point in time; it's something with which I'm experimenting) but they still work to form a cohesive whole when put together. My question is: How stand-alone should each story be? For the most part, each of my stories could be its own entity. In other words, you wouldn't have to read the rest of the collection in order to understand any one story. There are small tidbits in some of the stories that reference information given in previous stories, but nothing too major. But the first story in my collection is sort of like a prologue. It's the only one that could not be a story on its own. There is no conflict; its sole purpose is to explain the MC's beginning, as it were – how she became who she is in the following stories. To explain further (I never know how much or how little explanation is necessary, so I tend to possibly over-explain in order to compensate): my MC adopts a persona that affects her view of herself and the people around her. She calls herself Artemis, after the Greek goddess, and has two romantic partners whom she names Orion and Actaeon, based on their characters in the myths involving the goddess. But because the stories are from Artemis' POV, she just calls herself Artemis and them Orion and Actaeon, while everyone else has a normal name. It's significant to the plot that they have these names, but I needed to find a way to let the reader know that these were not their real names, but rather the names Artemis projects onto them. It was unnatural to do that within the main stories, and that's why I created the prologue. My whole academic career I've been told that a completed story needs to be able to stand alone (obviously); but since this work is sort of a collection of stand-alone stories and a novella that is one cohesive work, I'm not really sure about the prologue. If it's viewed as a prologue of a novella, it's fine; but if it's the first story in a collection of short stories, it's not. So I guess I'm just wondering what you guys think about the whole situation. I've gotten some mixed reviews from my in-person writing community, so I'm just hoping for a wider circle of opinions. Thanks!