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Thread: Prologue/epilogue - Needed? Desired? Wanted?

  1. #1
    Nonfiction writer tombookpub's Avatar
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    Smile Prologue/epilogue - Needed? Desired? Wanted?

    Does anyone have any rules of thumb/advice to offer regarding the necesssity or feasibility of including a prologue and/or epilogue in your non-fiction book. How does including an introduction affect the decision about a prologue? In this day and age, a lot of readers will skip over all 3 of these sections, IMO.

  2. #2
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    There's been a lot (too much, IMO) of prologue/epilogue discussion in regard to fiction in the Novels forum; you might do a search there to see some of the arguments.

    For a nonfiction book, I don't really see the purpose of a prologue/epilogue, especially if you have an introduction, which surely would make your prologue redundant. Do you know of other nonfiction books that have prologues/epilogues? My suggestion would be to find some and analyze what purpose they serve--and if you can't find any, your question is answered.

    - Victoria

  3. #3
    Procrastination is its own reward K1P1's Avatar
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    I'm not sure what purpose the prologue or epilogue would serve. Is the prologue an introduction? Does it contain facts pertinent to the material that will later be introduced? If so, should this material really be included in the relevant chapters? Or is the prologue about how you came to write the book and the process of writing it? this would probably not be necessary and (although I would be interested) might not be of interest to anyone but other writers, unless you've lived an extraordinarily adventurous life, which you are now writing about. Would the prologue detail your experience and education that qualify you to write the book? I would think this would be better placed in an author bio.

    And I can't think what role an epilogue would play in a non-fiction book, but I write knitting books, so I may be overlooking something obvious.

    The bottom line, of course, is that if you really don't expect any one to read this material if you call it "prologue" and "epilogue" and you want them to be read, call them something else. Like "first chapter" and "last chapter."
    Maggie

    The Knowledgeable Knitter, September 2014, Storey Publishing
    www.maggiesrags.com

  4. #4
    Scribble, scribble, scribble
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    In nonfiction, it's common to start with "here's what we're going to learn, why you want to learn it, & what you need to know first," & end with "here's what you've learned, & where you can go with it." I wouldn't call them a prologue & epilogue, though.

  5. #5
    Nonfiction writer tombookpub's Avatar
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    Thanks for your advice!

  6. #6
    Retired and loving it! Puma's Avatar
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    tom - there's a long thread in the main board of share your work (one at the top of the page) about prologues with quite a few examples and people's opinions as to whether they are or are not prologues and whether they would be useful to the story. That would be a good spot for you to look at. Puma

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