Prologues and Epilogues – Let’s Talk Bookish

Buenas tardes, amigos! Welcome back to the blog. It’s time for another Let’s Talk Bookish discussion. As always, Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by me and Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions and spread the love by siting each other’s posts.

Today’s topic is: Prologues and Epilogues: Are They Necessary? (suggested by Fives @ Down the Rabbit Hole)

Thank you so much to Fives for suggesting this topic and being a part of LTB! I haven’t really ever thought about how prologues and epilogues affect stories, so this will be interesting to discuss.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

What’s the difference between having something as a prologue vs. a chapter 1?

I think prologues tend to be set several years before the action of the story, or they tease the climax part of the story. If it’s set some years before, it’s usually used to share some important event that explains how the character reached whatever situation they’re in.

For instance, if a character is set on revenge in the main story, the prologue might show the event that set the character on their vengeful path.

I think I’ve only seen one series that uses prologues to tease the climax of the story, that is the Keeper of the Lost Cities series. It always starts with a dramatic moment where the main character is realizing that someone is a traitor, or something terrible is happening. You don’t know who or what of course, but it serves to get you excited. It also kind of makes me try extra hard to guess everything before it happens.

Based on this, there’s a major difference between first chapters and prologues. First chapters dive into the main story right away, while prologues are setting the scene or trying to get you excited. And sometimes, it’s crucial for a story to have a prologue just to help the reader get oriented with the plot or to keep them hooked until the big reveal happens.


Is it too much to have both a prologue and epilogue?

First of all, I think an epilogue’s role in the story is to basically tell what happens after the main events of the plot. Usually it’s set a little while after a dramatic ending where you hopefully get to see the characters living their best lives and being happy.

I love having epilogues, because they are usually so wholesome and make you feel relieved that everything worked out nicely. In mysteries/thrillers, they can also serve as a chance to show what happened to the murderer, or abductor, or whoever the bad guy is if the book didn’t follow their trial. And that is definitely necessary for some closure.

Is it too much to have a prologue and an epilogue? I don’t think so, mostly because I don’t really care that there are two more chapters. And you can’t even really call them chapters because they tend to be much shorter than the normal chapters. So there’s really nothing bad about them. They just help to enhance the main plot and don’t really have a negative in my opinion.


A few other thoughts:

There are times when a book doesn’t have an epilogue and it frustrates me because I would like to know what happened after the main events of the story. In contrast, if a book doesn’t have a prologue, I don’t care. It doesn’t really change anything because whatever information is included in a prologue will no doubt find its way into the main plot eventually.

However, not all endings offer a look into how everything turned out after the dramatic finish, so I find myself wanting an epilogue to give me that happy ending. Sure, sometimes an ambiguous ending is just perfect for a book and is almost necessary to keep my heart pounding or breaking after the book ends.

But you know, every once in a while, a nice tidy happy ending is very good for my heart too.

And that’s all I have to say on epilogues and prologues for today. Be sure to visit Dani’s post to join the linkup!

Some questions for you:

  • Do you like prologues and epilogues? If not, why?
  • Do you think epilogues have more value than prologues and vice versa?
  • What’s the best prologue/epilogue you’ve ever read? Has one ever ruined a book for you?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

20 thoughts on “Prologues and Epilogues – Let’s Talk Bookish

  1. I remember when I was first taking writing classes and whatnot and most of the people teaching dismissed prologues and epilogues. I never got that! Some of the most famous books of all time start with a prologue, and I have an issue with people telling other writers how to best tell their stories with a one size fits all approach. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly, some of the best books do have prologues and epilogues, so it’s not fair to act as if they bring no value to a book. And you know, I don’t think any of the formulas/tips that writing courses give have ever really worked for me. Honestly, I now think writing is a much more personal experience that can’t be globalized for everyone.

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  2. I especially love the prologues in The Chronicles of the Bitch Queen series because they’re all linked together and fully make sense when you read the third book! For epilogues, I think it depends on the genre?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. PLEASE READ IT! It’s my favorite series 🥺I usually like them in romance novels, where it skips to the happy family scene, and in epic fantasy/dystopian books, where they show the beginning of a new world after the war.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who’s a sucker for epilogues, Rukky! I literally gushed about epilogues in my post HAHA! But yes, I am a huge fan of wholesome, lovely epilogues that just draws out my favourite stories for me!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Fabulous post Rukky. I quite like my “left to the reader” endings but I can live with an epilogue if it pleases other readers. It doesn’t ruin things for me so it would be churlish to begrudge them. I love those prologues that tease about the ending too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Kinda? Just kinda? Lol, I have some strong opinions on KOTLC. The prologues should be given an award for being migraine inducers in my humble opinion. Have you already read all the books that are currently out? And thank you!

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        1. I just read Unlocked a few weeks ago.
          SPOILERS for KOTLC below
          ..

          I’m like really frustrated with Sophie and the whole plot, because Nothing seems to ever happen. They make this elaborate plan or try to get the advantage, and they just fail time and time again. Honestly, if Lady Gisela actually wins, well thankfully something is finally moving forward. It’s like 8 books have passed and they still know nothing about the Neverseen and the Neverseen knows everything about them. It’s literally just a game that Lady Gisela is playing whenever she wants. The only things changing are the characters growing up and talking about trust and not doing stuff on your own, and then relationship dramas, etc etc etc, and that’s all nice and great, BUT the main plot is not progressing at all. Like if it was a coming of age series without the Neverseen drama, then okay. But how it is right now, I’m so exhausted. And the books are huge too 😓 I don’t know if I even want to read book 9. I mean, I probably will because I just can’t not know how it ends and I don’t want spoilers but it’s so painful.
          Lol, but that’s my thoughts, what do you think?

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          1. Yes I do agree. The first 3-4 books were especially slow, and while I did enjoy the later books, I would prefer them to actually have a plot besides the constant triangle drama and hilarious banter.

            Liked by 2 people

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