My Ascending Spiral didn’t have a Prologue at first. It just started in 805 AD, a story told in the voice of Padraig, a shepherd boy on an island near the Irish coast. But one of my beta readers told me, “Bob, all of this is Pip’s story. All the various lives are Pip’s lives, so actually he is doing all the storytelling. It needs another bit, right at the front to show this.”
Brilliant. I thanked her, and did as she suggested. And, perhaps, the Prologue to Ascending Spiral is my best writing. It grabs people, and has in and of itself made me friends.
But one day, another friend idly picked up the book, riffled right through the Prologue, and started reading Padraig’s part. I found this almost painful: she was completely ignoring my masterpiece. So, I pulled her up on it.
Her answer? “I never bother with Prologues and Forewords and things, just start at the real story.”
I told her it was part of the real story, so she said, it shouldn’t be called a prologue then.
I’ve done a 2016 revision of this book. In that, my introductory section is titled, “The gift of the healer” instead of “Prologue.”
My soon to be released 16th book, Hit and Run had a prologue for much of its existence as a draft. After my negative experience with the word, I called it all sorts of other things — and eventually cut it out altogether. I think the book is improved by simply launching into the story. However, it does have an epilogue. Only, I don’t call it that. The title is, “Could this be true?”
Mind you, I have no negative evidence regarding epilogues. I would hope that by the time a reader got that far into my book, s/he would read every word, even if it was labelled “Whatever you do, don’t read this!”
Please leave a comment, then read the offerings of the other writers in this round robin — and leave them a comment too.