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How to Create a Great Prologue and Epilogue for Your Story

In addition to the many narrative techniques and characters we have discussed in bibisco blog, there is one fundamental aspect of any narrative. Create a great prologue and epilogue. What is the difference between these two? There are specific characteristics they should have. Let us look at the details of the prologue and epilogue together.

Create great prologue and epilogue: differences between them

Before speaking about how to create a great prologue and epilogue, we have to clarify what they really are. First of all, the prologue is the antecedent, it is the introduction to the narrative. In fiction, the prologue may have the function of introducing the action or anticipating it. It can also act as an initial explanation or even, in some cases, anticipate the ending of the story.

The epilogue, on the contrary, is the ending of a novel. This is also the moment when the reader leaves the imaginary world created by the writer and returns to the real world.

Create great prologue and epilogue: characteristics and roles

Many authors recommend writing the prologue at the end of the writing process when you have a clear idea of the novel. Others, however, believe that the prologue should be written earlier because it helps the author in writing the story.
In any case, it is good to remember that the prologue must add something to the narrative. It must not be superfluous or repeat elements that are already contained in the narrative. As we have anticipated, its purpose is to interest the reader and anticipate the narrative.

Concerning epilogues, to write good endings, you can recall images, details, and symbols that you have previously included in the story so that the prologue, development, and epilogue compose a solid and homogeneous structure. An author can, as Tarantino did in Pulp Fiction, end by linking back to the opening scene.

Why create a great prologue and epilogue for your story

The prologue, when present, has specific purposes. It must immediately interest the reader and anticipate the story.
It is, therefore, a very useful element, especially when the story is very complex, has many facets, or if the author uses a complex narrative technique such as one that requires the use of several time plans, or many characters.

The epilogue, on the other hand, which corresponds to the ending of the narrative, should surprise the reader. It must aim to leave the reader satisfied, and melancholic at the departure of the story and the characters. It must be unexpected, but in the end, the only possible ending.

Some examples of the prologue

There are in fact, two types of prologue: one that is part of the story and one that is external to the narrative and has an autonomous function.

An example of a prologue used very often, also in the world of cinema, is the flashforward. This consists of anticipating an important event that occurs later in the story. Usually, after inserting this type of prologue, the story should begin with the words ‘tot. hours before’ or ‘tot. years before’.

Another very frequent example is the ‘zero point‘ of the story. That is the explanation of the triggering event. Usually, this prologue involves secondary characters or characters who do not play a significant role in the story.
After inserting this prologue, the story begins with the words ‘tot. hours/years later’.

Some examples of the epilogue

There are different types of epilogues. On one side, the closed epilogue answers all the questions that were posed in the plot, and every character finds its square. Everything is explained by a cause. On the other side, the open epilogue leaves certain doubts in the mind of the reader, who will be forced to guess based on the events and clues in the plot. It is suitable if a sequel to the story is planned.

The author can use other two types of epilogue. The circular one takes the reader back to the starting point. It ends the novel with the same concept, image, or words used at the beginning. Finally, there is the In media res epilogue.

This is increasingly adopted today. The novel ends when the story is not yet finished, for instance, with a gesture, a description, or a dialogue. There is the feeling of a suspended, ambiguous ending, which is meant to give the impression that the story is much longer (it starts earlier and ends later) and we are only spectators of a segment.

The key to the ending of any story lies in giving the audience what they want, but not in the way they expect.

William Goldman

Use bibisco to create a great prologue and epilogue for your story

The prologue and the epilogue have two particular roles, as we have explained. However, they are not easy elements to write and create from scratch because they can lead to confusion, in the case of the epilogue, or fall into the infodump (overabundance of information) in the case of the prologue. Take advantage of bibisco‘s story planning software to write your narration, prologue, and epilogue.

bibisco allows you to keep track of any element, note, and characteristic. You won’t leave anything to chance, and you won’t risk repeating information. You will then have fantastic help!

bibisco's chapters' section - How to Create a Great Prologue and Epilogue
bibisco’s chapters’ section

Conclusions

How to create a great prologue and epilogue for your story? The prologue and the epilogue are two fundamental elements of narration. But it is not as easy to write them, as it may seem. They have specific characteristics and roles in narration, and they have to be written with attention to be a great prologue and epilogue.

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