Monday, December 7, 2015

The Prologue and the Epilogue in Fiction

 Both the prologue and epilogue are devices that help explain a complicated story.

A prologue appears at the beginning of a novel, and serves as an introduction to tell what has gone on before.  An epilogue appears at the end of the novel and tells what happened years after the story has ended.

It is not necessary to have both a prologue and an epilogue.  Many books have a prologue with no epilogue.  Others have both.  However, an epilogue is seldom used without a prologue.

The Prologue

A prologue is an introduction that is not quite a chapter. It is set apart from the rest of the book either in time or in viewpoint.  Its purpose is to provide necessary backstory for the novel which cannot be told in any other way.

A prologue may be used for dramatic effect.  A common use of the prologue in a thriller is to have the prologue either be in the villain’s viewpoint, or to start the story with a murder scene or crime in progress, an evil face peering into a window, or someone hearing the footsteps of a stalker. Then the novel begins with the detective or main character’s viewpoint.

The Epilogue-“And they Lived Happily Ever After…

An epilogue is a short piece tagged on to the ending that is usually not quite as long as a chapter.  Its purpose is to tell what happened long after the story has ended.  Often, it will tell whether the main characters married, had children, moved to a farm in the country. 

An epilogue is not necessary unless you have a novel that spans a long period of time or have an event such as a birth or a wedding that is not covered by the ending.  Often, in a historical romance, the book will end with a kiss, and the epilogue might start seven year after and tell that the couple married and had three or four children and lived to ripe old ages.  Facts the reader might want to know, but that take place far after the ending of the story.

 Use of a Prologue and Epilogue to Indicate a Span of Time not Covered in the Novel

In Mary Higgins Clark’s I Heard that Song Before, the prologue introduces the main character as a little girl who overhears a cryptic conversation in a hidden chapel on the Carrington Estates, of which her father is landscaper.  The first chapter begins with the same character as a grown woman.  She returns and falls in love with Peter Carrington, but what she overheard that night might be a clue to the murders her new husband has been accused of.  An epilogue tells the state of affairs a year later.   

Use of a Prologue and Epilogue to Span Years of History

In a novel that spans years or decades, a prologue might serve the purpose of  explaining  events pertinent to the plot that went on before the novel begins. For example, Robert Goddard’s historical suspense novel Name to a Face has both a prologue and an epilogue.  The prologue begin at an earlier time than the story takes place  Godfrey Schillingstone has discovered a mysterious secret he is about to reveal to the world, one that will bring him great academic fame.  But before he can show what his discovery, he is murdered.

The actual first chapter begins with another character, Tim Harding, who in modern times finds Schillingstone’s discovery has some bearing on a mysery in the present.

Here is a sampling of books with prologues and epilogues.
Dead Souls  Ian Rankin  (prologue)
The Associate Philip Margolin (prologue)
I Heard that Song Before Mary Higgins Clark  (prologue and epilogue)
Name to a Face Robert Goddard  (prologue and epilogue)
Cruel and Unusual  Patricia Cornwell (prologue and epilogue)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas Mystery Writers Special! Sample Half a Dozen Authors for only .99c a Book! Three Days Only. December 4-6.


Back by Popular Demand: Choose one. Choose some.  Choose all.  
FOR THREE DAYS DECEMBER 4th, 5th and 6th sample these selected author's books for only 99c a book!  CLICK ON THE RED BOOK TITLE LINKS ACROSS FROM THE AUTHOR'S NAME TO ORDER!



When Katrina Hunter is forced to shoot her sister's stalker, she takes the required leave of absence from the SF police department as her chance for a long over-due sail to Mexico. 
But when she discovers a floater close to her first port-of-call, she naturally does the right thing; she reports the dead body to the Mexican Navy. Except that doing her civic duty brings her into the Ensenada police station where she comes face-to-face with her unfortunate past. A past that could cause her to lose her hard won position as a detective in the San Francisco police department. 


Dana Logan Grayson finds the body of her gardner in her yard. He's been stabberd but was he the intended victim? Her friend Sarah arrives from Texas to help her discover the killer and they flee for their lives to Texas and the Alaskan outback before the killer is discovered.


 A crime thriller about a well-to-do New Jersey man who foolishly brags about his wealth and high cash position to win a political argument at a holiday party. Big mistake. He might win the argument, but he loses the war. Seems not everyone in the room is as well-to-do or honest. In fact, some are downright criminal. Rex Jones’s big mouth makes him the target for a group of lowlifes who plan to use his wife, Lena, and daughter, Laurie, as leverage to extort his cash. Can Rex save his family? Does he even have the ability to go up against these violent thugs? 


Marilee Anderson dreams about a murder and wakes to find it really happened. She and David Nichols, the victim's brother, become the prime suspects. Though they have their secrets and aren't sure they can trust each other, Marilee and David team up to find the killer in this psychic suspense.


No sooner does psychic Lottie Baldwin pull up stakes and move to Cheyenne, North Dakota, than she finds herself up to her neck in a series of mysterious robberies. Can Lottie and the handsome new man in her life, deputy sheriff Harlan Erikson, solve the crime spree before Lottie becomes the next victim?

CRYING WOMAN BRIDGE by LORETTA JACKSON AND                                                             VICKIE BRITTON 

Haunted bridge, crying woman, missing baby!   While returning from Professor Dawson's lecture on haunted places, the last thing Sheriff Jeff McQuede and Dawson expect to encounter is a terrified woman clinging to the railing of Mirabella's Bridge, crying for her lost baby. It looks as if Rae Harris has thrown the infant over the bridge in a fit of despair, but she claims he has been stolen by a ghostly figure she calls Mirabella.