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Friday, December 16, 2016

Prologue and Epilogue


Victoria Chatham suggested this topic: Prologue and Epilogue. Do they have a use? Should they be used? Can you have one without the other? This topic was suggested by one of our group, Victoria Chatham. Be sure to check out her blog.
It’s an interesting topic. I’ve used both in drafts, and I’ve been called on it from a critique partner or editor. And I end up taking the prologue out and starting the story in a different place. They didn’t have a use in the stories when I really analyzed it. I think the first thing you need to decide is where should the story start. What’s the inciting moment? Does it change the direction of the story?

Now, does the reader need a prologue to give the background or can it be filtered into the story? I think if it’s a prologue it needs to be from a different time or setting.  If it’s back story it should be added in small doses throughout the story.
Epilogue can have a use, in my opinion. I have used them.  You write the story and tie up all the loose ends. The goal has been met.  The h/h have resolved their issues. The reader is satisfied. Right? Maybe, but sometimes you want to add a few little details that didn’t fit the quick paced ending.

For instance, it’s a series and after you wrote ‘The End’ and before the start of the next book, there was a marriage and maybe an adoption. It could be done in back story, but it’s more relative to the previous book. The reader may want to know what happened after ‘The End’.
If you do write an Epilogue and I think can be used, it should be short and include only the items you think the reader might be interested in.

Can you use one without the other? Absolutely. But make sure it’s necessary and there’s no other way to include information the reader will want. And it should be info the readers want – not what the writer wants to share.
I’m looking forward to hearing what other writers say, because this is a controversial topic.  Check out theses authors.
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Dr. Bob Rich http://wp.me/p3Xihq-QS
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Kay Sisk http://kaysisk.blogspot.com
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com


Happy Holidays everyone!

17 comments:

  1. I've heard that about the prologue but there are some stories where it works, esp a series where the prologue can fill in a person about what happened in the last book. Other times, it shows an important event from a different perspective.

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    1. Not sure about a series. Can the information be filtered into the story? I agree about an important event or different perspective. Thanks, Melissa.

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  2. Everything has it's place. I'd say that's the case with prologues and epilogues. Sometimes, they work; sometimes, they don't. There are times when the information can't be added into the story without a prologue. In my blog post, I've included a prologue that was part of a short story. It tells the story of the heroine's birth. It's only a couple of pages long and moves quickly. Could I take it out? Probably, but the editor was as much in love with the prologue as I was.

    Marci

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    1. Interesting that you used it with a short story - and that your editor loved it. I'm off to read it.

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  3. I don't read prologues, because I figure it if was important it would be in the story. However, I may read epilogues.

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    1. I think you make a good point. Thanks for commenting.

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  4. We agree on everything! It all depends on purpose.
    Good post.

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  5. Well put. I use the same guidelines for my own books. A bit extra of the happy ever after is a nice bonus for folk who already loved your story, too.

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    1. Thanks, Skye. And it can be a bit of a bonus for the reader at the end.

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  6. Beverley, when I was torturing students at university with things like essays and theses, I always advised them to start in the middle, then the conclusion, and write the introduction last, when they knew what they were introducing.
    Maybe, from what you say, that's not bad advice for fiction writers as well.
    :)
    Bob

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    1. I think it's good advice for fiction writers. It's often said - start writing and when you finish the story, go back and write the beginning.

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  7. I have never tortured students (at least, I don't think I have!) but Dr. Bob makes a very good point. I agonized over the beginning of my last book, Brides of Banff Springs, for several reasons. One of my beta readers, who now knows my process well, suggested that with my next book I write the ending first and then work back. It just goes to show that writing is a craft and can always be improved upon by open discussions like these.

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  8. I have never tortured students (at least, I don't think I have!) but Dr. Bob makes a very good point. I agonized over the beginning of my last book, Brides of Banff Springs, for several reasons. One of my beta readers, who now knows my process well, suggested that with my next book I write the ending first and then work back. It just goes to show that writing is a craft and can always be improved upon by open discussions like these.

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    1. It's interesting how often people do write the beginning last. They write the beginning and the rest of the story and by the time you get to the end you have a deeper understanding of the characters and can write a better beginning.

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  9. Hi Beverley, enjoyed your post. I have written openings and then taken out the first pages, sometimes as many as 10. I suspect it's just a way of getting my brain into the right gear and zone for each new story. anne stenhouse

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  10. Hi Anne, interesting comment about getting the brain into the right gear and zone. I hadn't thought of that but it makes sense.

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