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!