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BarbaraKE
12-03-2008, 01:32 AM
I know I'm using the wrong terminology so please forgive me in advance. (And feel free to correct me if I use the wrong word.)

I've heard of 'prologues'. They are usually at the beginning of the book and set before the actual story. They usually provide a bit of back story or explanation or set-up of what happens in the 'real' story.

Then there are 'epilogues'. They are at the end of the book and provide a wrap-up or final conclusion to the 'real' story.

But what is it when you have a short chapter at both the beginning and end of the book and both are set at the same time after the 'real' story. I seem to remember hearing the terms 'framing' or 'bookends'. Is either of these the correct term? And how would these chapters be labeled?

As an example, let's say the first chapter is set in 1950 and two people start talking about events in 1920. Then chapters two through forty-nine are flash-back set in (and concerning the events in) 1920. Then chapter fifty jumps back to 1950.

I don't want to label the 'chapter one' and 'chapter fifty' since they are a distinct storyline different from chapters two through forty-nine. Any hints what I would call them?

nevada
12-03-2008, 01:52 AM
It's could be a prologue. It can be seen as a framing prologue but it's still a prologue. Not all prologues are set before the actual story. some prologues actually occur halfway through the timeline of the story but are set in the beginning to whet the reader's appetite or provide some action before lots of boring backstory takes place that the writer thinks is absolutely necessary. Sometimes the prologue happens at the same time as chapter one, only it's from the POV of the killer, for example, whose POV we never hear from again. Or worse, in my opinion, the POV of the victim, to drum up some sympathy.

You can call them chapter one or you can call them prologue. Some people hate prologues and never read them. Some agents, ie Miss Snark, say to never include the prologue in the sample writing that you send. WHy not call them Chapter one. A chapter is just an arbitrary unit of pages bound together by some nebulous reason. Chapters were invented in order to make it easier to serialize a book for newspapers which is where they were most often printed first, centuries ago. You can play around with chapters re your formatting and story line, but nowhere does it say that the chapters have to have the same storyline.

kuwisdelu
12-03-2008, 02:00 AM
There's no reason not to call them "chapter 1" and "chapter 50", really.

Starting out at the very end of the story, before flashing back to the beginning and telling your story, working back to where you started is a fairly normal structure. I use it a lot. Even if the first and last chapters are distinctly different from the rest of the book, I'd say go ahead and call them chapter 1 and chapter 50.

Puma
12-03-2008, 02:36 AM
I'd call them chapter one and chapter 50. Books set up with contemporary beginnings and endings and flashback for the remainder are not that unusual - but I don't think I've ever heard specific names given to the contemporary chapters. Puma

BarbaraKE
12-03-2008, 04:20 AM
Books set up with contemporary beginnings and endings and flashback for the remainder are not that unusual - but I don't think I've ever heard specific names given to the contemporary chapters. Puma

Well - I'm surprised. I figured there was a real name for this type of structure. (The term 'bookends' also springs to mind - does it jog anyone's memory?)

I thought that 'prologue', by definition, had to involve events that occur prior to the main story. Evidently this is not true.

PS - I was just typing this and the word 'introduction' sprang to mind. That's what I'll call it. I'll have an 'introduction', then the main story, then an 'epilogue'.

NicoleMD
12-03-2008, 05:22 AM
I'd call them Prologue and Epilogue. Especially if you can read the rest of the book without getting lost. I just ran all the way out to my car to get a book (Pushing Ice, by Alastair Reynolds) that I remembered doing this, and that's what it calls them.

In this case, these bookends serve as their own storyline, (different characters, different time, different place) just vaguely related to the goings on in the novel. The book didn't need them to be thoroughly enjoyed, but they add just a bit of sweetness to the story, a little reward for the dedicated reader. I actually skipped the prologue on the first read through, but the story left me wanting more, so I went back and read it. :)

Nicole

katiemac
12-03-2008, 05:22 AM
You're writing a frame. They don't really have other labels that you would include in the actual book like "epilogue" or "prologue".

The only solution I can offer is give yourself a separate page, like when you see Book One and Book Two, and write "2008" or whatever year it is. Then skip a page, write "chapter one." After chapter one, use another separating page and write "1950" and go on with chapter two. Do the same when you get to your last chapter, the final frame, to put us back in 2008. If you don't have a large time gap like that, I really wouldn't do anything at all.

Readers are smart; they'll pick up quickly that they're reading a frame--that is, if you do it right.

ETA: Caught your 'PS'. "Introduction" makes me think of something more technical, like a foreword. If I saw this in a store, I'd skip it by accident. (And no, I don't skip prologues.)

My suggestion still stands--leave it as chapter 1 through 50, maybe with some years labeled, and discuss the formatting with an agent.

ChaosTitan
12-03-2008, 05:23 AM
Barbara, if you're thinking of the same framing in, say, The Green Mile, then yes, I've also heard "bookends" or "frame story" applied to this. In TGM, the main storyline is set in 1935 (or thereabouts), but that story is framed my Paul as an old man, telling this story to a friend here in the present day.

Is that what you're looking for?

ChaosTitan
12-03-2008, 05:24 AM
Holy 3-way cross-post, Batman. :D

katiemac
12-03-2008, 05:28 AM
I think we just won a prize.

NicoleMD
12-03-2008, 05:29 AM
lol. Sweet.

Puma
12-03-2008, 06:01 AM
Getting back to the nitty gritty - prologue and epilogue would definitely be out for what you're describing - at least as I understand them - the prologue setting the stage for the story that follows and the epilogue describing the aftermath of the story. Although, now that I've just written that - I can see that it could possibly be done that way. Weird. Puma

kuwisdelu
12-03-2008, 06:13 AM
I'd prefer "prologue" to "introduction." I agree it sounds a bit technical. Introductions tend to be more synonymous with a foreword or a note from the author rather than part of the actual story.

But again, it's not very unusual for a book to be structured like this, and "chapter 1" would also be appropriate. If you don't like "chapter 1," though, I'd stick with prologue. It doesn't have to take place before the rest of the events for it to be a prologue, it just has to be place before the rest of the text.

maestrowork
12-03-2008, 08:16 AM
Those are frames -- example, The Notebook. And like kuwi said, there's no reason why they can't be chapter 1 and chapter 50. No reason why there should be a prologue and epilogue. Some also have the first chapter covering the same timeframe/scene of the climax (Fight Club, for example).

BarbaraKE
12-03-2008, 02:08 PM
Barbara, if you're thinking of the same framing in, say, The Green Mile, then yes, I've also heard "bookends" or "frame story" applied to this. In TGM, the main storyline is set in 1935 (or thereabouts), but that story is framed my Paul as an old man, telling this story to a friend here in the present day.

Is that what you're looking for?

Well, I haven't read The Green Mile, but what you've described sounds exactly like what I mean.

Ok, I guess I'm back to 'prologue' and 'epilogue' (although prologue still seems weird to me). Maybe I'll stop at the bookstore and see how it's handled in The Green Mile.

FennelGiraffe
12-03-2008, 07:50 PM
Ok, I guess I'm back to 'prologue' and 'epilogue' (although prologue still seems weird to me). Maybe I'll stop at the bookstore and see how it's handled in The Green Mile.

The "pro" in "prologue" just means it's presented before the main story; it doesn't necessarily have to describe events that occurred before the main story. In a frame, a prologue set later is common.