The Epilogue Delimma

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Lately, it seems every book I read has an epilogue.

What’s up with that?

For a writer, what’s the reasoning behind writing an epilogue?

And, for the reader, what purpose does one serve?

And, finally, are they a hinderance, a help, or does it even matter?

I decided to do a little research.

I began with a working definition:

An epilogue is a section at the end of a book that serves as a comment on, or a conclusion to, what has happened after the end of the book— a wrap up of the story.

It seems there are five reasons to use an epilogue. They are: 

1) To Give Closure: Epilogues provide information about what happens later. Writers use them when they feel that writing these details in the story itself would weaken the climax of their book.

2) To provide information about how the story turns out especially if it is years later.

3) To summarize: If the character has been championing a certain point of view, the author can use the epilogue to drive the key points home.

4) To give resolution to ambitious endings.

5) To pique the reader’s interest in reading the next book in a series.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Have you used them yourself?

Next week, I will tackle other aspects of the EPILOGUE DELIMMA.

The End?

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I remember going to my first movie with my Uncle Bill—and crying when it was over.

There was no escaping it because “THE END” was written in huge letters on the screen.

The world is full of more sophisticated movie-goers nowadays. No longer are those words written in books or on the silver screen.

So, how does one know the story is over? When the screen goes dark? When there are no more pages to turn?

Well, readers and movie-goers aren’t the only ones that have gotten more sophisticated over the years. Writers have, too.

First of all, we now understand that the ending is a crucial part of the story. It makes that all-important final impression on the consumer.

It provides an emotional sense of closure.

It can:

~provide a summary.

~wrap things up.

~bring the reader full circle.

It should:

~be satisfying.

There is nothing worse, in my estimation, than spending several days reading a book or several hours watching a movie only to end up dissatisfied with the ending.

Who wants to pay good money for a theatre ticket or paperback and walk away feeling gypped, cheated, underestimated, or devalued?

So does that mean that the guy should always get the girl…the fortune hunter must always hit oil…the prodigal should always return?

Yes…and…no.

Given the circumstances of the story, it should end in such a way that we see growth in the main character and it makes sense that it ends the way it does.

For instance, he may not find the pot of gold, but he learns that money doesn’t buy happiness and is content with what he has.

He might not get the girl, but finds someone that is better for him in the long run.

Do we need to see that he settles down in Oklahoma, has a half- dozen kids, and retires to play pickleball the rest of his days???  No. In fact, please don’t nail down every detail. Respect the intelligence of your reader by letting them make some conclusions for themselves.

So, this discussion brings us to question whether this really has to be THE END at all…

Perhaps this is just BOOK ONE in a series.

Maybe this movie will supply enough interesting material for a sequel.

Let’s explore the possibilities…NEXT WEEK.