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The Pros and Cons of Including a Prologue or Epilogue in a Romance Novel

If you’re a writer (or sometimes a reader), then you probably know what front and back matter are, the extra stuff publishers add to a book – copyright page, introduction, author information and acknowledgments, maybe even summaries of other books they recommend. Well, the prologue and epilogue are the front and back matter of a story. These little additions don’t always need to be there, but they can be fun to read and write! 😉

Today, I’m going to list some pros and cons to having prologue or epilogue in a romantic story.

Benefits of Adding/Reading a

Prologue or Epilogue

  1. There’s more character development.

Sometimes, when I add a prologue, the character’s purpose comes out in the storytelling.

Image by kjpargeter on Freepik.

Also, if the author includes an epilogue, you often see another change or surprise at the end, which helps to further develop the character.

2. You get a glimpse without seeing the full story yet.

With a prologue, when accurate, a reader may get a sense of the character ahead of time, an inkling of how compelling this person is, and they’ll want to keep reading to find out what happens next. Oftentimes, the prologue doesn’t relate to the main story, but it still provides key details that the audience may need to fully understand what occurs later on.

3. You can hook a reader fast, if the technique is used correctly.

Photo by Maël BALLAND on Unsplash.

There’s only one chance to get the audience’s attention. From the first line, and usually the first paragraph, the writer must use the best opening to keep the reader from running away.

4. Romance readers get bonus content!

Have you ever subscribed to an author’s newsletter, and then they eventually provide a bonus chapter which occurs after the couple’s HEA (happily ever after) scene?

Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash.

This is also a great section to add after the story is over, as the ‘epilogue’.

Disadvantages of Using/Reading

a Prologue or Epilogue

  1. Some people really hate reading them.

I’m not part of this group, as I don’t mind reading a prologue. But some readers would just rather read the actual story instead of getting into a scene that happens way before the events of the book.

Photo by Julien L on Unsplash.

As for an epilogue, if they dislike it, that makes me wonder if they even enjoyed the book in the first place. Unless the scene seems completely useless, an extra chapter in a romance novel can’t be that terrible, right? We’re always begging for Kindle Vella stories to finally be concluded in some way.

2. It’s extra writing.

Sure, it does add to a writer’s workload.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.

But it might be worth it to try in the end. Either way, it’s up to the writer if he/she decides to write a prologue or epilogue which accompanies the story.

3. Don’t info-dump.

Make sure that anything you include in the epilogue isn’t just an excuse to give the character’s whole backstory. A writer can always work these small bits of details in here and there, throughout the story. Plus, info-dumping will drive a potential reader away faster than trying to catch a skittish cat.

Image by Jeannette1980 from Pixabay.

4. Does it really contribute to the overall plot?

This is a necessary question a writer must ask if they’re set on including a prologue or epilogue in the story. As long as it moves the plot along, the scene offers an important look at the character’s past, or defines their personality in some manner, then a prologue is probably not a bad idea.

Epilogues, however, are almost always an afterthought on the part of a writer.

Here are some questions you can ask as a reader:

Is the scene entertaining?

Does it offer a cliff-hanger, which leads into the next book in the series? (You’ll see it more often with urban fantasy stories.)

Am I getting some cool bonus content which I wouldn’t otherwise have?

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay.

The key to using a prologue or epilogue is to better the storyline in some way. If the author adheres to that general rule (and yes, all of this a bit subjective), then things usually work out well.

Thanks for reading! ♥

Marie Lavender, the host of ILRB, lives in the Midwest with her family and two cats. She has been writing for twenty-five years, with more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 21 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, romantic comedy, dramatic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. She also dabbles in graphic design. A blogger on the side, she writes adult fiction, published one story for children, and recently started some YA fiction. She also contributed to several anthologies. Though Marie has standalone titles on the market, there are six current published series, with many others planned.

Marie’s Links:


2 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of Including a Prologue or Epilogue in a Romance Novel”

  1. I usually like an epilogue. Prologues can be hit and miss. I like it more when a prologue introduces some kind of history, instead of showing me the character some time in the future and then the story starts a while back. I’m not a huge fan of those.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, thanks for commenting! Some prologues which I have written include a moment early on in a character’s life, more of a defining moment. In the Heiresses series, each prologue touches on a significant event that shapes the young character for who they become later in life. It makes more sense later on, as the story develops, but it’s still somewhat separate from the ongoing plot of the book. The epilogues are often about a scene that happens after the HEA is achieved.


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