The Pros & Cons of Prologues

Prologues and epilogues: some readers (and writers) hate 'em, and others swear by 'em. What's an aspiring author to do?

I use them only if I have an event to convey that

  1. is more effective if it is shown "live" rather than related in backstory, and
  2. is significantly removed from the chronology of the rest of the book.

A prime example is Dawnflight's prologue, which depicts the death of Gyan's mother in childbirth. Chapter 1 fast-forwards to show Gyan as a young woman.

Epilogues frequently are used to tie up loose ends. Again, I follow the above rules when deciding whether or not to include an epilogue. Many romance novels make use of the epilogue to show the hero and heroine with their young child(ren) as a means of capping the story. In fact, a reader once asked me why I didn't do this in Dawnflight. The simple fact is that its sequel, Morning's Journey, deals with this topic!

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Revised 14 March 2013