Friday, December 16, 2016

Prologues and epilogues: a good idea?

Prologue and Epilogue. Do they have a use? Should they be used? Can you have one without the other?

What an interesting topic and one I hadn’t really thought about since neither is a permanent part of my writer’s toolbox. I have used the prologue twice, in both instances when only a short blurb was necessary to set the rest of the book.

In T’s Trial, I needed to show the hero’s depravity and ego in order for his redemption to be all the more worthy. In Wedding Belle Blues, I needed an intro to the five part book set-up and to give it a fairy tale entry, a ‘once upon a time’ lead-in that, of course, totally falls apart before the first chapter is ended!

I’ve used an epilogue only once in order to tie up all the loose ends of One Year Past Perfect. I needed to skip time, which seems to be a main purpose of epilogues, to show the Happily Ever After for all the parties concerned.

Can you have one without the other? Well, I obviously think so.

The only time I get a bit sideways with prologues is when they give us a terrific hero/heroine in distress moment and then—wham!—take it away from us by going back a day or two. Or a year. Yes, it grabs my attention. Sometimes, it holds it. Not guaranteed. Now this happens a lot in episodic TV also, when you think you must have missed an episode because you don’t remember the characters having been left dangling from a rope over a canyon with a train about to cross the bridge they’re affixed to. Then, it says, ’24 hours earlier.’ I can handle that transgression a bit better. And, of course, being TV, it’s over in an hour, not 300 pages later.

Please check out the other participants in this blog tour, all answering the question of prologues and epilogues.


Margaret Fieland
Skye Taylor
Dr. Bob Rich
Marci Baun
A.J. Maguire
Diane Bator
Victoria Chatham
Anne Stenhouse
Helena Fairfax
Beverley Bateman
Connie Vines
Rachael Kosinski Rhobin Courtright

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At 9:00 AM CST, Blogger anne stenhouse said...

Hi Kay, I think many of us are in agreement that they aren't a regular part of the toolbox as you put it. The TV comment is apt because I find it's almost a reminder to carry on watching. What does that say about my attention span? anne stenhouse

At 12:40 PM CST, Blogger Marci Baun said...

I don't like it when authors take you into the middle of the story and then drag you back to the beginning. That's sloppy writing. They started the book in the wrong place, but don't want to admit it. It irritates me enough that I'll put the book down and won't finish it. If they're going to do something like that in the beginning, it can only get worse from there. (I'm not opinionated at all. LOL)

I've read some well done prologues and epilogues, but I've also read some that either dragged on too long or weren't needed at all. Again, it's dependent upon the story and the abilities of the author.


At 3:50 PM CST, Blogger Rhobin said...

Hi Kay!
I think we all agree on the problems prologues and epilogues can pose, but sometimes they are good things (particularly our own :)). Enjoyed your post.

At 4:54 PM CST, Blogger Skyewriter said...

Good point about the 28 hours earlier comment. That always throws me in a TV show and I'm not sure I like it knowing where the action still to come is going to end up. But it would definitely irk me in a book that took several days to read.

At 12:05 PM CST, Blogger Victoria Chatham said...

'I needed to skip time, which seems to be a main purpose of epilogue.' Kay, this is a great way of describing both the epilogue and the prologue. I think the key is to keep them short and to the point.

At 12:21 PM CST, Blogger Victoria Chatham said...

I like your analogy of the writer's toolbox. I once bought a junior hacksaw for my home toolbox, and maybe used it twice. That's how I see the P & E situation, only use it if you really have to.

At 12:30 AM CST, Blogger Beverley Bateman said...

Your comments regarding how they worked with TV were interesting. I'm not sure it works the same with a book, but it has me thinking.


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