First I'd like to thank Serena for inviting me here to talk to her friends DownUnder.
For my post today, I want to take a look at Prologues and Epilogues.
Recently I had a writer email me and ask me whether she should start her book in a certain place, and then jump forward a couple of years to tell the main story, or whether she should start at that point a couple of years later - or should she put the past into a Prologue and then move into the main story. The problem here is basically, should she write a Prologue – or start the story in what is the present and refer to the past in flashback. I’m not a great fan of flashbacks – particularly not long ones- but Prologues- and Epilogues - need to be used with care.
Some authors love Prologues, some- and I'm usually one of them, will avoid them like the plague. But in a 2007 book of mine (Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride) my editor really wanted a Prologue showing the hero and heroine happy together so that the events of a year later (the ones I had as the starting point of the book as it was ) hit home with more impact.
don't really like Prologues. Let me explain why.
The first thing to be sure of with a Prologue is that it's really necessary. Because one of the real problems with a Prologue is that by its very nature it usually involves writing something that delays the start of the 'real' book - the reason why the reader has picked it up in the first place - and that is the development of the romance between your hero and heroine. A romance is a short book and the reader expectation is that it will concentrate - guess what - on the romance story.
Prologues usually set up something that one or other of them is unaware of and so you need to be careful that it doesn't have the reader hanging on, wondering just when the other central character will come in, when this problem will be made clear.
But the epilogues I really dislike are the ones that look like padding - the detailed description of the elaborate wedding/christening/whatever when this feels like padding - bringing the word count up to requirements when that could have been used so much more valuably by adding to the conflict or the resolution of that conflict - something that showed character development rather than embroidered the already happy ending.
Sometimes there is a place in your novel for a prologue, or an epilogue – but all too often then can be an excuse for lazy, careless writing.
In a romance it is important to ending. Written well, this can all be done in the main force of the story, without any need for an added opening or ending to explain, flashback, or embroider onto that happy ending. I think that for both an epilogue or a prologue, the question should always be, can I tell this in the main part of the novel without lengthy explanations? And if the answer is yes you can, then your story will be so much tighter and with more pace if you do. And a tighter, pacier read will please your readers so much more!
The Return of the Stranger is available from
Amazon & Amazon UK
Where can readers find you?
One lucky commenter will get a signed copy from Kate Walker’s backlist, winner’s choice and all the commenters’ names will go in the grand draw. For more stops on Kate Walker’s celebration tour, please check out the:
Backlist Books:The Greek Tycoon’s Unwilling Wife
Bedded By The Greek Billionaire
Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride
The Good Greek Wife?
Kept for Her Baby
Cordero’s Forced Bride
Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife
The Proud Wife