Prologues and Epilogues in Romance Novels

Prologues and Epilogues in Romance Novels

karidaI recently released my third novel, Surrender the Heat. Like most writers, I completed quite a few revisions before the release. One requested change from a beta reader was the addition of an epilogue to “find out what happens to the heroine” and “to hint at the next book.” My first novel did not include an epilogue, but my second did. I added a brief epilogue to Surrender the Heat and must admit—it really did improve the ending.

Coincidentally, a few weeks later a fellow romance novelist asked her social media followers whether or not they liked epilogues in their romance books. The response –more than 60 readers—was a resounding “yes.” Responders said they want the closure, they like to see the happily ever after (HEA), and they enjoy seeing how things work out for characters. If the novel is part of a series, readers said they like the epilogue to hint at the subject of the next book.

The responses reflect my point-of-view as well. Since I love the HEA aspect of a romance novel, why not show a deeper glimpse of the “ever after”? And since my Phoenix Warrior series focuses each novel on one of the Warriors, it’s a perfect opportunity to hint at the next book’s Warrior. My only stipulation is that epilogues should be concise and light-hearted. A lengthy epilogue says that the book really needed another chapter and I like to close a book feeling satisfied and uplifted.

So, epilogues are good in the romance genre. What about prologues? Here, I think, is where readers diverge more in their opinions. Prologues are common in the fantasy genre because so many books use them to begin world-building for the reader or to give background information about a character. But what about in romance novels? As a paranormal romance novelist, there is world-building involved in my books. However, I prefer to weave the explanations and background material throughout the text rather than place them in a prologue. When I open a book, I want to delve right into the story and start connecting with the characters and their trials right away.

As an experiment, I recently began skipping prologues in romance books I read, instead beginning in the first chapter. Then at the end, I go back and see if I would have gained anything by reading the prologue first. Not once has that been the case. If it doesn’t add anything to the reading experience right away, you end up with a bumpy or slow start as a reader—like you’re in a manual transmission car with someone who can’t use a clutch.SurrendertheHeat_Kindle (1)

I avoid prologues in my paranormal romance series. I like to get down to business and establish good…rhythm with my hunky—and hot—Phoenix Warriors right away. 😉 I chose to make myrealm-guarding heroes Phoenix because I wanted to do something different than the classic vampire and shifter paranormal romance fare. I love stories about both, but I really wanted to try something more unique. I hope you’ll give them a try and let me know how you like them.

Many thanks to Jenny for inviting me to share my thoughts and my books on her blog. I would love to hear from readers.

How do you feel about prologues and epilogues in romance novels? Good, bad, or depends on the story?

You can learn more about my books at my website, www.karidaclarke.com, or at my Amazon author page, http://www.amazon.com/Karida-Clarke/e/B00INJ1T14.

About the Author: Karida Clarke is a romance writer with a penchant for anything otherworldly. If it has scales, fur, poisoned talons, throws fire or casts magic spells, it might find its way into her stories. Karida likes her heroines multifaceted and her males swoon-worthy, Alpha-style. She believes that relationships matter more than things and places. In her free time, Karida enjoys lacing up for long runs and cooking ethnic cuisine. Pet peeves include Saran Wrap and people who don’t put their shopping carts away. Karida has an M.A. in English Literature, is a former college English instructor, and currently writes for a small newspaper. She lives with her nerdtastic husband and two spunky kids in Ohio.

Website: www.karidaclarke.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/karidaclarke

Twitter: www.twitter.com/karidaclarke

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/karidaclarke/index/7891344.Karida_Clarke.xml

13 Replies to “Prologues and Epilogues in Romance Novels”

  1. I’m okay with Prologues, probably because I read a lot of romantic suspense. But I think for romance it really depends on the story. I put a Prologue in one of my books because it worked. I didn’t want it told in flashback. And since my story really had THREE characters (hero, heroine, & ghost), showing how the ghost came to be created more questions (and ended on a pretty good hook).

    1. Interesting that you have three POVs Stacy. I bet that is fun to write. I read a lot of romantic suspense too and I’m good with the prologue as a technique.

      Good luck with your latest and thanks for stopping by!

  2. Speaking as a reader, I don’t have a problem with either prologues or epilogues in any genre. I start at the beginning and read through barely paying any attention to chapter headings. I usually never know if a book has either. It’s all just chapters to me.

    1. Julie, I’m the same way. As a reader, I just want a good story with a good wrap up. I don’t really notice if a story has prologues. I do notice the epilogues — probably because I like the wrap ups.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. My editor suggested I write an epilogue for my current book and I thought she’d lost her mind. I hadn’t given it much thought but now maybe I’ll try that. Better hop to it, though, since I need to get these revisions to her in a couple weeks! Thanks, great to know.

    1. I know, Kathryn. It goes against conventional wisdom, but I’m starting to think that publishing goes in cycles. Readers are finicky and want new things, and recycling organization and plot structures every few years keeps things fresh.

      Thanks for stopping by and good luck with your new work!

  4. I enjoy reading epilogues and prologues at times if there is any overwhelming amount of characters to keep track of. For this sexy Phoenix Warrior series a prologue is unnecessary.

    1. I’m with you Tiffany, I enjoy reading them both, especially when there is definite wrap up needed for a story. Thanks for posting!

  5. Hi, I’m an athor. I would like to get in touch with you, Jennifer, to get some other ideas please. I am writing a supensful romance novel and I wrote one novel and I’m writing my it’s my second of the series.

    1. Hey Rebeca, thanks for stopping by. Feel free to PM me on Facebook. Happy to chat!

      1. No worries .. ping me on any of the buttons at the top of the page.

  6. Well, I was wondering how I could get a pulishing package? I want to publish my books. I’m not really an author, I just write books. I’m writing my first series, actually.

Would love to hear from you!

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