We made it to the final chapter of the book! And the best part is it is a bonus chapter. The focus of this chapter is on prologue and epilogue development.
Prologues are set before Chapter One. Many readers prefer to skip the prologue, according to the exercise book Plot Development Step by Step by Jesper Schmidt & Autumn M. Birt– I for one always read them — so if you are to add one, ensure it is engaging and revealing information interesting enough to hook the reader.
A book with a fantastic prologue is Elantris by Brandon Sanderson. For those who read my Inspiring Author of the Week posts, yes. I chose this one because I spent the last week back in Brandon Sanderson’s story world. So it was the first one that popped out at me!
Elantris was beautiful, once. It was called the city of the gods: a place of power, radiance, and magic. Visitors say that the very stones glowed with an inner light, and that the city contained wondrous arcane marvels. At night, Elantris shone like a great silvery fire, visible even from a great distance.
Yet, as magnificent as Elantris was, its inhabitants were more so. Their hair a brilliant white, their skin an almost metallic silver, the Elantrians seemed to shine like the city itself. Legends claim that they were immortal, or at least nearly so. Their bodies healed quickly, and they were blessed with great strength, insight, and speed. They could perform magics with a bare wave of the hand; men visited Elantris from all across Opelon to receive Elantrian healings, food, or wisdom. They were divinities.
And anyone could become one.
The Shaod, it was called. The Transformation. It struck randomly—usually at night, during the mysterious hours when life slowed to rest. The Shaod could take beggar, craftsman, nobleman, or warrior. When it came, the fortunate person’s life ended and began anew; he would discard his old, mundane existence, and move to Elantris. Elantris, where he could live in bliss, rule in wisdom, and be worshipped for eternity.
Eternity ended ten years ago.Elantris prologue, Brandon sanderson
The first line hooked me in. The idea of of place of eternal beauty, before set my imagination on fire. What happened? Then he followed up with a visually engaging view of Elantris and how it was open to those who were mysteriously chosen. Where they could be turned from a beggar into a ruler to be worshipped for eternity. However, eternity ended. How can eternity end?
The setting up of the history of Elantris through visual details engaged my senses and drew me to the story. I needed to know what happened as well as what is happening now, after eternity.
An epilogue can be used in a similar matter. It can be used to add to the reader’s understanding of the character, their personal growth since the final chapter, or it can be used to set up the next book in the series. I am a serial series reader, so I am always hoping for the next book in a series. Having a piece of writing that alludes to what is coming, is a glimpse into the next adventure I cannot wait to read.
An epilogue that shows character growth and their paths in the future I enjoyed was the ending of the Wheel of Time Series by Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan. It is too long to share the full ending so I have to excerpts from it:
“I see the answer now,” [Rand] whispered. “I asked the the Aelfinn the wrong question. To choose is our fate. If you have no choice, then you aren’t a man at all. You’re a puppet.”Memory of Light, Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
The wind blew southward, through knotted forests, over shimmering plains, and toward lands unexplored. This wind, it was not the ending. There are no endings, and never will be endings, to the turning of the Wheel of Time.Memory of Light, Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
The final quote is one of the last paragraphs in the series. It is similar to how the series began, with the wind and the understanding of the Wheel of Time. The text suggests the epilogue be kept short. But when the epilogue is the end of a fourteen book series, I think there is an expectation of all the character arcs and the story arc to be complete. A chance to say goodbye to the characters we loved and hated.
Thus ends my examination and execution of the exercise book Plot Development Step by Step by Jesper Schmidt and Autumn M. Birt. I think this book supported my story development and outline, made it stronger. Soon I will find out if it makes the editing process shorter. NaNoWriMo has one week left and I am currently at 45,463 words. I look forward to finishing the book and in another month, the editing process.
Next week I will examine a story exercise suggested by Neil Gaiman in the Masterclass Course. Happy Writing!