JULY 2: PROLOGUES AND EPILOGUES: ARE THEY NECESSARY? (SUGGESTED BY FIVES @ DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE)
Prompts: What’s the difference between having something as a prologue vs. a chapter 1? Is it too much to have both a prologue and epilogue? How does having one (or both) affect how readers perceive the story? Do you think epilogues have more value because they might tie up loose ends? Do prologues have more value because they can set the scene? Do you prefer having neither?
For me, prologues really can set the scene of a book. They wet my appetite and leave me guessing how the events in the prologue will affect the rest of the narrative. Epilogues function in a similar way in that they tie up loose ends, set the scene for a further instalment in a series or show the impact of the narrative further down the line.
Why is a prologue not just chapter one? Well, I think that it demarcates the preceding events from the beginning of our main narrative. It acts as an introduction, or an abstract like in academic journals in a function, because it shows us what might potentially happen. I think that some of the events in a prologue would lead to me being confused if it was just chapter one.
When considering this, I’ve tried to think of examples but I keep falling back on Harry Potter. In The Goblet of Fire, the first chapter, “The Riddle House”, acts as a prologue, even though it’s chapter one. I think that it would function either way. The reason I don’t find it weird as a first chapter is because it is immediately referenced in chapter 2, whereas if it was a prologue, the events in the scene probably wouldn’t have impact until further on in the narrative. At the end of The Deathly Hallows, there is the famous “19 years later” epilogue which I think works really nicely as it serves to offer an insight into the wider world and the consequences of the events throughout the whole series significantly later on.
Do I like prologues and epilogues? They don’t bother me. They don’t make or break a book for me. I think they are useful literary devices that, if used well, are really effective?
I’d love to hear what you think in the comments!