Open Book Blog hop – Prologues and Epilogues

This weeks topic is ‘Prologues and Epilogues. Yes or no?’

I have not included either a prologue or an epilogue in any of the books to date. As I only have two full length novels, that doesn’t necessarily mean I never will, but merely that this concept wasn’t useful to me for either of Through the Nethergate or A Ghost and His Gold.

Literary terms describes a prologue as “Some works of literature start with a prologue (pronounced PRO-log), a short introductory section that gives background information or sets the stage for the story to come. The prologue is usually pretty short, maybe a few pages . But it may be the most important section of the story, and if readers skip it they may be lost for the entire story.”

I had a look at a list of the top 12 novels with prologues that worked and I haven’t read any of them. The only prologue I can distinctly remember was the one in the musical production of War of the Worlds which goes like this:

“No one would have believed in the early years of the 21st century that our world was being watched by intelligences greater than our own. That as men busied themselves about their various concerns, they observed and studied, the way a man with a microscope might observe the creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency, men went to and fro about the globe, confident of our empire over this world. Yet across the gulf of space, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic regarded our planet with envious eyes, and slowly, and surely, drew their plans against us.”

I think this prologue definitely worked! Of course, I do admit to loving this book [not the film], so maybe that is why I love this prologue.

Literary terms describes and epilogue as “an optional final chapter of a story, such as in a play or book, and which may serve a variety of purposes—concluding or bringing closure to events, wrapping up loose ends, reporting the eventual fates of characters after the main story, commenting on the events that have unfolded, and or setting up a sequel. It can appear as a speech (especially in a play), a series of scenes, or an essay by the narrator.”

I had more luck thinking of a series which ended with an epilogue – Harry Potter. I remember it because I didn’t feel the epilogue added value to the series and I would have preferred to have drawn my own conclusions about the futures of the characters. In fact, I found the epilogue quite annoying.

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In conclusion, maybe my thoughts are quite simple” “maybe a prologue, but never an epilogue.”

Have you written any prologues or epilogues, or do you prefer leaving them out? Add your blog hop post to this one by clicking the blue button below, or just leave a comment.

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21 thoughts on “Open Book Blog hop – Prologues and Epilogues

  1. Hi Robbie. Unfortunately I’ve not read The War of the Worlds novel or the Harry Potter series, but many moons ago Sam bought The War of the Worlds LP and listened to it constantly. .At the time I rather liked Richard Burton’s voice as he read the prologue you described, though the subject matter was not (and is still not) my preferred genre. The music was good though!

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    1. Hi Stevie, I love War of the Worlds and The Time Machine. I loved the musical version of War of the Worlds and find the music very thrilling. Harry Potter was okay for me. I am not entirely sure what all the fuss was about, but there you go. You mentioned that A House Without Windows had a prologue and it clearly never bother me as I didn’t note it mentally so everything has its place if it is used properly.

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  2. I’ve used both, but not all the time. I’ve read some prologues that have confuse me and others that suck me right into the story. I don’t mind a wrap-up at the end, but prefer it to be good news. I enjoyed your take, Robbie.

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    1. Hi Denise, as I mentioned, I’ve never used this technique and I haven’t really noticed it in books I’ve read, other than Harry Potter. For me, that particular prologue spoiled my imaginings of the future.

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  3. I read “War of the Worlds” back when I was a teenager. I should read it again as an adult. 🙂 I have written both Epilogues and Prologues and do think they can be quite effective. Thanks for sharing, Robbie!

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    1. As far as I remember, Miriam, your author note was about how the idea for the story occurred, or your own experience with a child getting lost, and how the story came to exist. I don’t really think of that as being an epilogue as it isn’t a short overview of what happened next.

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  4. Hi, Robbie. I’ve used both prologues and epilogues at different times, more the former than the latter. I remember back in the day, it was said if you wrote a prologue you should have an epilogue. I don’t know how true that is, but I do know, I don’t mind other in a book when I’m reading.

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  5. As a reader, I am not a fan of the prologue. It often causes me to overthink what is going to happen, but there are times where it definitely works. As I read a lot of drama and women’s fiction, I believe epilogues are often useful. I recently read a book that felt unfinished to me as well as many others and the author wrote an epilogue after the fact. I think she got a lot of negative feedback from her fans.

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    1. Hi Carla, thank you for adding your thoughts and experience. I do think that the use of these writing tools is appropriate in certain circumstances and works. Probably, lots of people love the Harry Potter epilogue, I am just a fan of imagining the future my way.

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  6. I agree about the Harry Potter epilogue, and I also agree that it doesn’t add anything to stick something at the end of a book, at least in my memory I’m always annoyed by them rather than enlightened. Write a sequel if you must, but end it where it should be ended. But prologues can be quite useful, if only in setting the tone. (K)

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  7. as I try to remember reading books that had a prologue or epilogue, I recall enjoying having these openings and closings. Especially the prologue, probably because I didn’t want the book to end, and any extra bit was welcome…

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  8. I tend not to be a big fan of prologues in contemporary books, particuarly if they’re focused on telling me how I should read and interpret what is to come. They seem to be more effective in classic literature. I don’t like epilogues if they’re tacked on.

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