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Thread: Epilogue ..... Yes or No ???

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    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Shaley's Avatar
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    Smile Epilogue ..... Yes or No ???

    Hi again

    After weeks of thought about the ending of my 75,000 word (plus graphics) Novel .... a comedy with a semi serious ending I am now seriously considering including an Epilogue as a way of injecting the same humour level back into the story that was consistent throughout the novel. Also I have already written a plot outline and planned a new novel as a sequel for this novel and will start writing it as soon as I have sent out all my queries etc. Just wondering what do others think about Epilogues .... Good or Bad idea ???

    Look forward to hearing other people opinions on this topic !!

  2. #2
    Tyrant King jeffo20's Avatar
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    Ultimately, it's up to you to decide. If you think you need it, put it in.
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  3. #3
    Huh. kkbe's Avatar
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    When considering whether or not to conclude one of my novels with an epilogue, I came across this essay: http://writerunboxed.com/2012/10/30/...-the-epilogue/

    In part:
    Does it add something of value to the story? . . . Is it consistent in plot, character and theme? Do you have an actual reason you can cite for leaving it in and not incorporating it into your final chapter?
    Something to think about, maybe.

  4. #4
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Shaley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kkbe View Post
    When considering whether or not to conclude one of my novels with an epilogue, I came across this essay: http://writerunboxed.com/2012/10/30/...-the-epilogue/

    In part:

    Something to think about, maybe.
    Thanks a lot for posting the link kkbe it is really helpful and provides a good basis for questioning the need for an epilogue or not. I have cut and pasted an earlier post of mine below that adds a little more information/insight to the epilogue question

    Hello All
    this is my first Post so apologies in advance for any mistakes.

    Ok so I am just about finished my first 75,000 word novel. It is predominantly a work of Humour /Satire about a modern day Aristocratic or Landed Gentry family Father , Mother, Adult son, who are on the run from Interpol and flee from England to Rural Italy. The entire novel takes place over one week and the MC of the novel is the father of the family who also owns a bank.

    The plot is delibertely set at a fairly fast pace as there is a lot of action and dialogue usually connected with the terrible disasters the family cause in the little Italian town,either independently or as a group on a daily basis.

    However (and this is the crux of my question) the last chapter has been purposely written with a definate twist (even though clues had been dropped earlier on in previous chapters) and becomes a lot more serious than all the previous chapters revealing hidden secrets about the characters that the reader would not have known.This is mostly achieved via a letter that is left from one character to another conveying secrets and lies that had been told years ago, Also within this letter is another letter written forty two years ago that provides the proof in relation to the secrets and lays to rest the unresolved ghosts of the past.

    "My question is even though essentially the novel is a comedy/satire.Do you think it is still OK to finish the story on a serious note that possibly provokes the reader to think on a deeper level about the events of the novel ? or Do you think the reader will feel ripped of if they are not having a big Ha ha ha belly laugh right up untill the end ....... BTW there is a sequel in the pipeline !! "

    OK so that is the post related to the epilogue question ...... and after reading your link and finishing the final chapter I think an epilogue or another chapter is definitely needed.

    My only concern is which should it be ? I am not too sure how far into the future the new information needs to be introduced before it can be titled an Epilogue .... in my case the Main characters are only one day into the future but clearly already out of the ending of the main story ... if that makes sense ?

    Can an epilogue be an epilogue even if it is only one day into the future ? ..... does this still make it viable as an epilogue or does it have to be more than a few weeks/months/years into the future?

    I dont want to start a new chapter as this Epilogue is meant to be a bit of a teaser into the sequel as well as adding information important to the main story and a final check on all the characters and what happened to them .... seeing as though they had left the story two chapters before the end ....... in dire circumstances !!!

    The Epilogue also begins in the exact same cicumstances as the first chapter .... ie they are all travelling in a car together to an unknown destination ....... hence once again the start of a new journey ........ hope this makesa abit more sense and helps clarify my questions !!

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shaley View Post
    Hi again

    After weeks of thought about the ending of my 75,000 word (plus graphics) Novel .... a comedy with a semi serious ending I am now seriously considering including an Epilogue as a way of injecting the same humour level back into the story that was consistent throughout the novel.
    ... sounds fine to me ^
    Makes sense.

    Regarding epilogues in general, I'm okay with them.
    Not always though. They can be irritating at times.
    Some stories should just end. No need for the author to linger.

  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW teeta6404's Avatar
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    I like epilogues, most of the time. But occasionally I come across one that will ruin everything I just read....not sure if that makes sense...just don't ruin your story with a strange or unnecessary epilogue.
    Tara

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  7. #7
    all hail zombie babies! CrastersBabies's Avatar
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    Yeah, I'm on board with asking whether or not it will add to the story.

    As I said in other posts (about prologues), you can quietly ignore the, "I NEVER READ EPILOGUES EVARrrrrrrrrrr!1111!!"
    "That is hoity-toity nonsense." ~ Bufty

  8. #8
    Freelance Writer Orianna2000's Avatar
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    If the story doesn't feel complete without the epilogue, or if the epilogue adds something significant, then go ahead and add it. Most people won't mind, so long as it wraps up the loose ends and they can close the book feeling satisfied. Consider, though, whether it shouldn't just be the final chapter, instead of an epilogue. Normally, an epilogue takes place later than the rest of the story, like an addendum. From what you've described, it sounds okay, but give it some thought.

    One caution: you mentioned that you ended a chapter with certain characters in dire straits, and you don't go back to those characters until the epilogue. It really, really annoys readers if you don't resolve cliffhangers in a way that is satisfying and immediate. Don't end the chapter with Bob being trapped in a cave-in, then start the next chapter with Bob back home, saying, "Phew! Wasn't I lucky that my friend happened to be walking past the cave and was able to pull me out of danger!" That's a cop-out. It usually happens because the writer is afraid to follow through and show their character in a tense, dangerous situation. They want the excitement of the cliffhanger, but they lack the skill (or the desire) to resolve the scene properly.

    I don't know if that's what you were doing or not, but just be aware that it's considered poor form.

  9. #9
    has no socks JulianneQJohnson's Avatar
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    My general feeling on epilogues, as I donít know your particular book, is this: In a romance novel I enjoy them. I like a little ďand they lived happily ever afterĒ moment in a romance. In any other type of book, I donít usually care for them. I like deciding for myself what happens after the body of the book. If itís the first part of a series, Iím not sure what the purpose is. Can it be added to the last chapter, or become part of the next book? If the answer to either of those is yes, then I wouldnít do it.
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  10. #10
    "Let's write!" Animad345's Avatar
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    Ask yourself quite simply: is it NECESSARY?

    Not: is it interesting? Not: will it make people want to read a sequel? Is it necessary considering the rest of the story that you have written?

    The trouble I find with epilogues is that they can give the effect of a double-ending. An epilogue is necessary if there are still loose threads, that you feel must be dealt with, at the end of the last chapter.
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  11. #11
    IA-Romance Editing at 84,000k
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    I think it depends on the story. I agree with the post above me in romance's their great in a thriller or mystery the ending should be strong enough unless it's a lead in to a sequel
    Illicit Allure-Querying

  12. #12
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Shaley's Avatar
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    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by Orianna2000 View Post
    If the story doesn't feel complete without the epilogue, or if the epilogue adds something significant, then go ahead and add it. Most people won't mind, so long as it wraps up the loose ends and they can close the book feeling satisfied. Consider, though, whether it shouldn't just be the final chapter, instead of an epilogue. Normally, an epilogue takes place later than the rest of the story, like an addendum. From what you've described, it sounds okay, but give it some thought.

    One caution: you mentioned that you ended a chapter with certain characters in dire straits, and you don't go back to those characters until the epilogue. It really, really annoys readers if you don't resolve cliffhangers in a way that is satisfying and immediate. Don't end the chapter with Bob being trapped in a cave-in, then start the next chapter with Bob back home, saying, "Phew! Wasn't I lucky that my friend happened to be walking past the cave and was able to pull me out of danger!" That's a cop-out. It usually happens because the writer is afraid to follow through and show their character in a tense, dangerous situation. They want the excitement of the cliffhanger, but they lack the skill (or the desire) to resolve the scene properly.

    I don't know if that's what you were doing or not, but just be aware that it's considered poor form.
    Yes I agree with you about that situation and No .... it's not quite as dire as that ....... more a case of if we dont do ABC "now" then XYZ are bound to happen. I have deliberately written it like that to heighten the curiosity of the reader and of course so it leads onto a Sequel. The reader will be wondering for the next two or three chapters what exactly happened to the other two characters but most of the finer details will be spelt out very clearly in a letter left by the MC in the last chapter. However the whereabouts of the characters will remain a mystery to the character who receives the letter ... So in some ways the epilogue is needed so that the reader knows where the characters have all gone. Also it allows some breathing space and an opportunity for the other two characters to demand that the MC tells them the truth as he has been hiding facts from them the entire novel.

    I guess not wanting to leave the reader in a serious space for too long either prompted me to think about how I could bring them back to the fun loving slapstick kind of pace they were enjoying before the final twist took place. Also bearing in mind it is a comedy I think I can can Errr on the side of the ridiculous here and there ....... At least I hope I can !!!!

    Thanks again everyone for contributing to the post your advice has been very very helpful

  13. #13
    If the Rule is Broken ó Break it. Knigel's Avatar
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    I love epilogues. Moreover, you seem stoked to do it. That's great energy to use, so I'd say go for it.

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    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Shaley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knigel View Post
    I love epilogues. Moreover, you seem stoked to do it. That's great energy to use, so I'd say go for it.
    Thanks KNIGEL ........ not sure I am that stoked about it ....... mostly because it is really hard to write and also because this will be the first time I have ever attempted an Epilogue ....... and I must confess I have never been a lover of Epilogues I tend to find them annoying BUT in this case I felt one was completely necessary for a number of reasons ...... I have sent it out to a couple of Beta Readers and after a lot of discussion and too - ing and fro - ing they have also agreed that including an Epilogue is the best road to take at the moment ........ so fingers crossed it all works out well !!

  15. #15
    That hairy-handed gent
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    Obviously it's been done, and by successful writers. Which means, obviously, that it depends on the story, and no sensible answer to this question can be given lacking that context.

    All that said, I think epilogues differ from prologues in one important aspect: Almost nobody writes an epilogue until the story is completed (at least I believe that to be the case). Many many many, as in TOO MANY writers concoct a prologue before they've written word one of the actual story. That is the standard path to horrible info-dump and hamstringing of the actual story. A prologue, like an epilogue, is an addendum, something to be appended to the body of the story, and best written only when it becomes apparent as a necessity, and that should be apparent only after the actual story actually exists.

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  16. #16
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Shaley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
    Obviously it's been done, and by successful writers. Which means, obviously, that it depends on the story, and no sensible answer to this question can be given lacking that context.

    All that said, I think epilogues differ from prologues in one important aspect: Almost nobody writes an epilogue until the story is completed (at least I believe that to be the case). Many many many, as in TOO MANY writers concoct a prologue before they've written word one of the actual story. That is the standard path to horrible info-dump and hamstringing of the actual story. A prologue, like an epilogue, is an addendum, something to be appended to the body of the story, and best written only when it becomes apparent as a necessity, and that should be apparent only after the actual story actually exists.

    caw
    Thanks Blacbird for your wise words I have finished the epilogue now and am more than pleased with the direction it took. What I have learnt from this is that ... Sometimes I think when you are unsure about something you just have to sit down and get on with it rather than procrastinate about the good the bad and the ugly ..... for forever and a day .... If it works .... then thats good .... If it doesnt ..... try another door !!

  17. #17
    American in England writingguy's Avatar
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    Forgive me if I'm misunderstanding, but it sounds like the story stands alone (is "complete") without the epilogue. Otherwise you wouldn't be questioning whether it belongs there, it would just be the last chapter.

    In which case, I'd say - why not go for it? If later on you don't think it works, or you get it to an agent/editor who doesn't think it works, you could probably remove it without damaging the main body of the story.

  18. #18
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I agree with questioning whether adding a epilogue is necessary or not. For me, personally, I tend to find epilogue to be a bit irksome. Often, or at least the ones I've come across, tend to feel rushed. It is almost as if the writer wanted a quick ending. Also, it is good to consider the fact that a epilogue can ruin an already satisfying ending. As what others said, in the end, it is ultimately up to you. However, I personally would walk away from the idea unless it is meant to wrap up the plot in the way that will lead to more to come i.e. if there is a sequel.

  19. #19
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Shaley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by writingguy View Post
    Forgive me if I'm misunderstanding, but it sounds like the story stands alone (is "complete") without the epilogue. Otherwise you wouldn't be questioning whether it belongs there, it would just be the last chapter.

    In which case, I'd say - why not go for it? If later on you don't think it works, or you get it to an agent/editor who doesn't think it works, you could probably remove it without damaging the main body of the story.
    Thanks for your very valid points .... I agree yes it is very Questionable whether or not I should include the epilogue .... at this point i think I will cos of the sequel and also cos it brings the reader back to a happier funnier place from where I left them in the final chapter ..... so I guess there is a dual purpose ..... but still, if I am lucky enough to be picked up by an agent/ editor/ publisher and they say Toss it out ...... I will !!

  20. #20
    figuring it all out Bec de Corbin's Avatar
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    I'd say it has a lot to do with how long the epilogue is. A short, startling, and to-the-point one usually flows better, in my opinion, than a lengthy wrap-up.

    It all comes down to the rhythm of the story. Does the ending feel abrupt and unsatisfying? Or are you winded, so to speak, by the time you reach the final chapter? If it's the latter, even the best epilogue might be too much. I've been dealing with this in my own manuscript, and it's not an easy decision to make.

    Best of luck!

  21. #21
    The cake is a lie. But still cake. shaldna's Avatar
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    I'm with everyone else here when I say that you need to consider if the story NEEDS and epilogue. What are your reasons for writing one? If it's because it adds to the story then go for it. If it's because YOU as the writer just can't let go yet then you need to really think about it.

    And consider, why an epilogue? Is there anything in it that can't be contained in the main body of the book? Does it add anything?

    I can't answer for you, and there's not necessarily a right or wrong answer as each story is different.
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  22. #22
    practical experience, FTW sohalt's Avatar
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    Can I hijack this and ask about my own WIP-epilogue problem?

    Following scenario: Somewhat downer ending. Apocalypse narrowly avoided at high cost to the heroes, one of the main characters died, lovers potentially separated forever, sacrifices left and right, fate of some minor characters unresolved. Epilogue designed to push it more towards bitter-sweet: 10 years later, show that sacrifices were not in vain and situation is really quite improved as the sacrificee would have hoped for, minor characters safe and sound, lovers get a glimpse of hope of finding a way to reunite.

    Useful epilogue, yes or no?

  23. #23
    figuring it all out Bec de Corbin's Avatar
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    I think it depends entirely on how YOU want the story to feel at the end: bitter-sweet, or just plain bitter? I would favor the former, but I am a sap.

  24. #24
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Shaley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bec de Corbin View Post
    I'd say it has a lot to do with how long the epilogue is. A short, startling, and to-the-point one usually flows better, in my opinion, than a lengthy wrap-up.

    It all comes down to the rhythm of the story. Does the ending feel abrupt and unsatisfying? Or are you winded, so to speak, by the time you reach the final chapter? If it's the latter, even the best epilogue might be too much. I've been dealing with this in my own manuscript, and it's not an easy decision to make.

    Best of luck!
    Thanks Bec ..... I totally agree with you about the rhythm ..... I think this is a very important element to seriously consider for any captivating prose ...... and I think this is one of the reasons why aside from a switch in tone that I have considered including an Epilogue .... I agree with you it is not an easy decison to make and it also depends very much on the Genre ..... I think because mine is a comedy it is more difficult to make the decision to include it or not
    Best of Luck to you too !!

  25. #25
    The ever absent-minded CChampeau's Avatar
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    For whatever reason, I despise epilogues.
    C. Champeau

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