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Epilogue: Tying up loose ends in a story


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I was inspired by reading @Talo Segura posts on Prologues and thought about the other end of the spectrum of a story: the Epilogue.

Some writers do unofficial epilogues in the last chapter of their stories, writing a few paragraph to explain how things turned out. Others write long detailed chapters that hint at a sequel with new plot points and characters being introduced, i.e. introducing a new character like your gay love interest's twin brother.

I wonder do people have any preference to how they create their epilogue or if they create an epilogue at all?

Do readers like epilogues?

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  • 2 weeks later...

I wrote an epilogue to English Teen, but my editors and story proofers told me not to publish it. In essence, I realised it was because I’d written the epilogue for me, not for my audience. I wanted to prove to myself that everting was okay and that there was a happy ever after,  when actually the story was stronger when readers were left to read between the lines, and live without every I being dotted and t crossed.

Riley

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The first and third Nemesis books have epilogues, while the second has a prologue (a scene that would have taken place during the first book but wasn't in it). The epilogue to book 3 is set just after the epilogue to book 1. As of right now, those are the only epilogues I have (I've written one for a story that isn't finished yet, though). I think my readers liked them? No one said they didn't, at least. :P 

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Science Fiction Writer, Joshua Dalzella (Omege Force Series, Teran Scout Marine Series, Black Fleet Saga, etc.) does an Epilogue at the end of each book he does. It serves two purposes in his style of writing. 1. To dot all the "I"s and cross all the "T"s for that installment, and 2. to serve as a jump off for the next book in the series. I actually like that.

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Sometimes writers purposely create epilogues so they won't need to continue the story. Because the force is real when they need to stop themselves from creating book 100, on stories that have several series. Sometimes it's like...Listen to Elsa damn it: LET IT GO.

It also applies to certain book genres: you can't expect books dealing with drama or loss to have an epilogue. 

"Sarah finally got her kidneys via a black market donor. Jimmy finally sold his kidneys to a black market specialist. He died 7 weeks later.

The end."

"After boarding the flight to see Gary, whose flight would crash on the 18th of July, Michael took off his ring and said, "I'm getting a divorce."

Michael got remarried 8 weeks later after Gary's funeral. He got dysentery on his honeymoon in Africa. 

The End."

But of course, it really depends. Unless it's a dramatic novel speaking about hope, a story about a certain cause or driven propaganda that helped a situation--an epilogue would be ok. . 

Adventure books are filled with epilogues though. We just want frodo to have a happy ending, don't we? I guess, it's natural to have that need to have closure from going through the character's adventure. It's that happily ever after sentiment we get from feel-good stories, or even movies.  

Epilogues for forgettable characters based on plot driven novels. Bad idea. A reader would be like, "Who the hell is this again? Didn't he die from an airplane crash? Geezus...he's only mentioned in one sentence. It's not even a complex sentence."

*cough* wattpad *cough*

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After writing ten books for a series, I wrote a microscopic story serving as en epilogue. Taking place 20 years after the events of the 10th one, it updated the main characters lives and gave everyone a HEA ending.

I published it separately so when I decided to write about the intervening years, I could slip stories into the series and new readers could enjoy them without knowing how the saga ended. For existing readers, it gave them the option of ignoring the new works if they were tired of the characters. I've already published a fill in tale, a spin-off, and a spin-in. Fortunately, the new works have received almost as much attention as the originals. Gotta love my readers sticking with me even though I don't produced the typical romance stuff so popular in gay fiction.

Other epilogues I've written had followed the same pattern, short entries tying up loose ends.

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My speciality seems to be the typical European 'slice of life' story. So, no defined ending, never mind an epilogue. ;) The closest I got was in Willpower where the final scene was a late addition and kind of acts as an epilogue.

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On 2/3/2020 at 10:45 PM, LJCC said:

Sometimes writers purposely create epilogues so they won't need to continue the story. Because the force is real when they need to stop themselves from creating book 100, on stories that have several series. Sometimes it's like...Listen to Elsa damn it: LET IT GO.

It also applies to certain book genres: you can't expect books dealing with drama or loss to have an epilogue. 

"Sarah finally got her kidneys via a black market donor. Jimmy finally sold his kidneys to a black market specialist. He died 7 weeks later.

The end."

"After boarding the flight to see Gary, whose flight would crash on the 18th of July, Michael took off his ring and said, "I'm getting a divorce."

Michael got remarried 8 weeks later after Gary's funeral. He got dysentery on his honeymoon in Africa. 

The End."

But of course, it really depends. Unless it's a dramatic novel speaking about hope, a story about a certain cause or driven propaganda that helped a situation--an epilogue would be ok. . 

Adventure books are filled with epilogues though. We just want frodo to have a happy ending, don't we? I guess, it's natural to have that need to have closure from going through the character's adventure. It's that happily ever after sentiment we get from feel-good stories, or even movies.  

Epilogues for forgettable characters based on plot driven novels. Bad idea. A reader would be like, "Who the hell is this again? Didn't he die from an airplane crash? Geezus...he's only mentioned in one sentence. It's not even a complex sentence."

*cough* wattpad *cough*

Epilogues aren't necessarily a list of events that happen after the end of the book. They can be a scene set some time in the future that just gives you a glimpse of how the characters are doing. That's what I did with Nemesis; I showed the main characters still together three or four years later, one of them playing in a band and the other studying medicine. Just a couple of scenes. Those weren't adventure books, they were teen romance.

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On 2/3/2020 at 9:45 PM, LJCC said:

Sometimes writers purposely create epilogues so they won't need to continue the story. Because the force is real when they need to stop themselves from creating book 100, on stories that have several series. Sometimes it's like...Listen to Elsa damn it: LET IT GO.

It also applies to certain book genres: you can't expect books dealing with drama or loss to have an epilogue. 

"Sarah finally got her kidneys via a black market donor. Jimmy finally sold his kidneys to a black market specialist. He died 7 weeks later.

The end."

A shame it was short. I personally find the whole kidney thing a real turn on!! (Kidding, lol!)

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