Prologues and Epilogues: Yes or No

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This month’s topic is prologues and epilogues: yes or no, and can you have one without the other — or, more properly, should you have either or both.

I have never written either a prologue or an epilogue — at least, I’ve never published a book with a part so-labelled, so I decided to check out my stack of library books :

 

First one: The Secret Game, a non-fiction book about a basketball game held during World War II. This book has both a prologue and an epilogue. Yes, I read both, but, then, history is not my thing, and I figured I could use all the help I could get.

Book two: Latest novel by Danielle Steel. No prologue, no epilogue.

Book Three: Oldie but Goodie by Elizabeth Cadell, one of my favorite writers: ditto — no prologue, no epilogue.

Book four: Mystery set in Victorian London, first of a series: Prologue but no epilogue. Yes, I did read the prologue.

Book five: An oldish novel by author Ann Hood: again, prologue but no epilogue. I haven’t read this one yet, but when I do, I’m sure I’ll read the prologue. I don’t skip beginnings, nor do I skip endings. Middles, now – -I might skip some there if the book is slow, but I aim to give everything I read a fair chance at the start.

I don’t skip beginnings, nor do I skip endings. Middles, now – -I might skip some there if the book is slow, but I aim to give everything I read a fair chance at the start, so I always read the prologue and first few chapters, even if decide not to read the rest of the book. And I might very well read the last chapter and the epilogue if I’m interested in how the plot turned out.

So how close have I come to writing either one in one of my novels?  Not so close. I briefly considered a prologue for Broken Bonds, but it turned into a 5000 word first chapter. I also considered — again, briefly — labelling the final, short, chapter of Rob’s Rebellion as an epilogue, but, again, decided against it. Why? Simply because they have a bad reputation. Ah, well. Clearly not everyone feels the same.

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5 thoughts on “Prologues and Epilogues: Yes or No

  1. Dr Bob Rich

    If I feel like skipping anything, nowadays I put the book down for the moment — and somehow never get back to it. The only exception is duty: when I am editing a book, or have promised a review or feedback.

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  2. Victoria Chatham

    I will always read a P & E, but it’s encouraging to know that others skip some of the middle bits in novels. Too much repetition gives me many a ho-hum moment and I’ll fly through the lines on the page until I hit the story again.

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  3. J.Q. Rose

    I’ve used p and e in one story–so far. If I want to skip the slow parts of a novel, then I usually just skip the entire reading. I never thought about skipping to the end. I do know people who read the ending first to see if it would be worth reading the entire book. Not sure I understand that!!
    JQ Rose

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