Prologues and Epilogues Round Robin

Every single one of my books has had a prologue of some type during the rough draft phase. I’m not even kidding.

Sedition  had a prologue in Nelek’s point of view that showed the destruction of the temple housing the infamous Ebony Blade – the cursed weapon that ultimately saved (and lost) the day for the book.

I loved that prologue.

I agonized over that prologue.

I felt that it added depth to the world I was writing in, set the tone of the book, and introduced one of the major characters while also showing the political strife taking place.

BUT …

If you’ve read the book then you know that … it’s definitely not there.

Ultimately, it was pulled because I had read several arguments against prologues. “Start where the story starts!” Was the mantra that was fairly shouted at me. And because I was a beginner at this whole writing thing (Sedition being my first published work) I allowed myself to be swayed.

If I had it to do over again, I would put the prologue in there. Because, if I’ve learned anything in the past several years, it’s that stories come in all shapes and sizes, and there is no one formula that is going to fit YOUR book. So if the prologue is done right and it’s doing what it’s supposed to do – introducing tone, world, character, plot – then by all means … use the dang Prologue.

They were invented for a reason.

They’ve been used throughout the history of literature.

They can still be used effectively today.

Now then … I will recommend that people just coming into the writing scene avoid prologues.

Why?

Because there’s a lot to be said about learning exactly where your story really starts. Writing is a craft and like any other craft in the world, you have to hone your skills. And a LOT of those skills have to do with your beginning, with those first few sentences in the first chapter.

Epilogues?

As a reader … if I’ve gotten to the end of the book then I most likely enjoyed said book and will relish the idea of a few extra paragraphs detailing how they might have lived happily ever after or some-such.

As an author … Again, I have only used them in rough drafts. My final chapters tend to be epilogues in their own right and there’s no need to expand the text.

Check out what my fellow authors think about Prologues and Epilogues for this month’s Round Robin Conversation …

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  https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/  (YOU ARE HERE)
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Kay Sisk http://kaysisk.blogspot.com
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

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7 Comments

  1. Over recent years, I’ve become less fond of prologues and epilogues. I’m not sure if that’s because modern authors don’t know how to write them or if I’ve become pickier and more cantankerous about writing. LOL It could be a little bit of both. A good editor is helpful in knowing whether or not the prologue is needed. They can, and do, work when done right.

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  2. I agree A.J. As an author you put much labor and love into words, and having to cut any of them is agony, like throwing away gold even if it is in a prologue or epilogue.

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  3. I’ve kept your mantra, “Being where the story starts,” in my mind when venturing to begin a new book, but like you, have also discovered that sometimes that glimpse of something from the backstory that seriously impacts the story itself is an intriguing way to begin. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut.

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  4. I think you nailed prologues and epilogues – and while you write them in drafts, not in published books. I’m guessing you find they don’t share any information necessary to the story that you haven’t included throughout the book.

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  5. Courtesy of the cat on the keyboard I didn’t get to finish my post! As I was saying, sometimes I’ve started writing and just kept at it rather than try to figure out a beginning. When I’ve got into the story is when the beginning, hook and all, presents itself.

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  6. Hullo AJ, I’m working my way around rather slowly. Enjoyed reading your post. I also delete lots, and lots, of words before sending a book to an editor. I need to write my way in and ‘hear the voices’. I don’t think my readers need to experience that process. anne stenhouse

    Reply

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