Prologues and Epilogues: to read or not to read?

Until I wrote my own book, I didn’t even know that there was a debate on this subject. And then, one day while I was revising book 1, we were talking about the prologue and my husband dropped the bomb on me that he…

doesn’t read prologues. My jaw dropped. I’m pretty sure I made the exact face of the little guy in this video. I spluttered. I may have hurled some accusations that included strong words like “inconceivable” and “blasphemy.” All in the most loving way possible, of course.

I love prologues. They lay the foundation that all of the events to come in the story are built upon. My line of thought was thus: If you skip the prologue, aren’t you going in missing key elements on the plot?

Hubby defended his nasty little habit as commonplace. Phone calls were made. Friends were surveyed. And I was stunned to learn that a lot of people really do skip prologues–and even more shockingly–epilogues.

So, in deference to the prologue skippers, I made the one in my book optional. Those who choose to skip miss out on some additional background information (and hints at events to come, muhahaha) but all the critical plot elements come in the main chapters.

In the end, I’m still really curious to know how extensive the practice truly is. So, fellow bookworms: to read or not to read prologues? That is the question.

38 Comments

  1. Unless the book is truly abysmal, absolutely, the reader is supposed to read both. That’s why someone went the the trouble of writing the damn things. If the book is bad, then it has probably been thrown across the room long before an epilogue would become an issue.

    Of course, I also read introductions, forwards, prefaces, footnotes, bibliographies, and endnotes, just like all right-thinking people, everywhere.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, I especially can’t imagine skipping an epilogue. When a story is good, I want to squeeze every detail out of the plot that the author has shared! I can’t count how many times I’ve desperately wished for an epilogue to a story when there wasn’t one. And to think some people skip those too?!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I found this topic interesting. As a reader, I always read both. But as a writer, especially an aspiring writer, I’ve always heard not to include a prologue.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ALWAYS READ!
    Now you need to weigh in on the Prologue/Epilogue debate among KU authors!
    THAT discussion, and Amazon’s views re: Prologue/Epilogue in page count and percentage read vs author payment made me crazy!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ok I’m prepared to get that dramatic look from you, but it’s so so adorable so I’m ok with that.
    1) I never ever miss the epilogue, ever. If the book I’m reading is terrible then I’ll stop reading it way before the epilogue. But I actually get a bit depressed when I finish a book I like, because leaving that world seems so sad, so I would never miss the chance to extend the story.

    But the prologue…

    Sometimes prologues are awesome, but sometimes they are just so hard to get through, I don’t know why. It takes me a few chapters to get into an author’s writing style, and I think that prologues are sometimes even harder. But after about 3-4 chapters if I’m loving the book, then I go back and read the prologue! I’m just a weirdo like that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, no worries, I’ve recovered from the initial shock of finding out I was married to a prologue skipper. But I still love him despite that, so I guess there’s no harm done. At least he’s never uttered the phrase “the movie was better” because then I might have to suffocate him in his sleep. ^_- Anyyyyway…since you have a logical justification for your skipping tendency I won’t hold it against you. And I totally know how you feel about not wanting a book to end. I want to squeeze every drop of story out of books, especially when I read a long series! I don’t know what I’ll do when I’m done *writing* mine. Their voices have been rattling around in my head for so long that I can’t imagine them being gone. But since that’s still 10 books away, it’s a problem for future Rachel to deal with. (But thinking about the possibility kinda makes me want to curl my knees to my chest and rock back and forth for awhile…)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ahh ok I so have to read your book!! I’m reading Nicholas Rossis’ book now and getting hooked into that world! I loveee/hate long series… When I finished the Robin Hobb Liveship Traders series I was so so so devastated to be out of it! I stretched out the last book for months just so it wouldn’t end!

        Liked by 1 person

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