Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.
Prologues and Epilogues. Yes or no?
The simple answer is, it depends.
I realise that’s not a proper answer and I know that there are some who will argue to the death with me about that. There is an opinion that you should never use either and I (sort of) understand their reasoning.
I do believe that there is a place for a well written prologue and possibly an epilogue as well, although I’m less convinced about the latter, with one exception, which I’ll come to in a moment.
Prologues can be useful, to set up a story and impart background. Having said that, they should be carefully created and should NEVER be an information dump. I think that‘s where the opposition comes from, nobody wants to see something out of an encyclopaedia at the start of a novel. Nothing will put a reader off more than a long-winded description passage right at the start (or at any time).
The crazy thing is, it’s not necessary, there are plenty of ways of imparting background, such as in a conversation, or during an action scene that make it much more interesting and readable.
Done properly, the prologue can be a scene/confrontation/conversation that gets the reader so hooked into the story that they will have no choice but to read on.
I must admit that I have used them a few times. My Steampunk novel The Sensaurum and the Lexis has a prologue that is a scene between two pivotal characters, a conversation that justifies a lot of what is to come. information is imparted, but in a non-encyclopaedic way.
In one of my Andorra Pett mysteries, I used the prologue to give the ending away. The story then worked towards that point. A reviewer said,
I love that you know who the bad guy is from the prologue but the way the story unraveled to that inevitable conclusion was awesome!
So I guess that one worked!
Epilogues, on the other hand, can end up as a sort of catch-all. A place to put all the plot points that haven’t been resolved by the time you get to THE END. I would say that if they are done like that, they’re the lazy way out.
If you couldn’t be bothered to address everything in the story, why have it there in the first place?
If all the epilogue exists for is to tell you what happened next (like those captions at the end of a movie), then you obviously have some idea of where the story could go. Why not write another few chapters, or even a sequel to explain it all?
The only sort of epilogue I like to see is Chapter One of the next part of the series. Then I know that there’s something to look forward to.
Even if it does have a prologue.
Let me know what you think about this week’s subject.
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