Good question for the #90DayBlogChallenge. I have written about this before, if you had asked me this question a few years ago I probably would have said, ‘nah, I’ve never use them so I can’t see the value.’ This changed massively when I wrote my last novel. Sacrifices, Why so? Well possibly it’s down to how I personally story-tell. I’ve always kinda wrapped up the story and not needed a epilogue. And, I never wrote anything that I felt really need a prologue before chapter one. Is the short answer.
That was until I wrote my first ever historical romantic suspense. Firstly, because Sacrifices moves back and forward over the decades of the present day, 60s and, 80s, secondly because the story starts a bit like the movie Pulp Fiction. eg. from the end, then works backwards I needed a prologue. I found that if I didn’t have one I could not show in a clear way to readers, what’s happening now for my main character Jane. Then step back to the 80s and move around with the story for both my main characters.
I think, this switch in genre from just contemporary romance showed me as the writer, I really do need a prologue before chapter one. Literally it’s like two pages, so they don’t even need to be long, just long enough to set the scene.
Now interestingly, in the original first draft of Sacrifices, I did have an epilogue too. Once we reached the HEA for the characters, I then did give some story on ‘what happened next’ after the critical ending. I actually felt at the time this was again the best way to show readers a full rounded story, allow them to have any questions about the future answered, and a really nice way to round off! But that all changed during the editing process. LOL as things tend to. There is NO epilogue at all. The content is the same but it’s now the final chapter, and more active with dialogue in the present day setting. Rather than told as narrative.
Is There Any Real Point In them?
Yes! Three years maybe after I originally write about this and answered a writing prompt that’s similar, now I’d say yes. However, I do feel that my personal use with prologues and epilogues will only feature if I write a historical fiction. Reason being because as mentioned I tend to be able to start and wrap up a story (normally) without them. The time hopping has shown me from writing historical romance the use can enhance how the story told.
I must admit, as a reader I don’t really care for them, and love to jump into the story, but I do read the prologues as I may miss key things!
What about you as a writer, do you use them? Why or why not? What’s your thoughts as a reader?