1. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92

    Epilogues

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Elgaisma, Jan 22, 2011.

    What makes a good one ?

    Socrates' Children now has unhappily ever after ending.

    I am contemplating adding an epilogue giving a more positive outlook. Less than a 1000 words one year on, also sets up the premise for my next book. I was going to tell it third person and past tense rather than the first person present tense the rest of the book. I don't know whether to make it a preview first chapter or an epilogue.

    Any thoughts and philosophies on epilogues welcome.
     
  2. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    there's really no such thing as a 'preview first chapter'... you may mean 'preface' but if you're going to have an epilogue, it could make sense to have a prologue to balance it... but only if one is really and truly needed... and they rarely are...
     
  3. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    Many books these days include the first chapter of the next book at the end.

    I know it is a publisher's decision but at this time unsure whether or not to self publish Socrates' Children it has elements I want to preserve which is going to make it more difficult to publish.

    I won't need a prologue with next book this is merely to bring his lover back it can happen as an epilogue in this book or be woven into next. However I am never again writing Socrates without Nate its been like missing half my character lol so he has to be resurrected.
     
  4. Show
    Offline

    Show Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,495
    Likes Received:
    30
    Prologues come off as a tad infodumpy sometimes. I like epilogues though. Epilogues give me some idea of what happened to the characters I spent so much time investing in. Prologues just add to the story's groundwork.
     
  5. popsicledeath
    Offline

    popsicledeath Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    71
    If the actual story doesn't give you some idea what happens to the characters, then something is wrong.

    I'm not a fan of either prologues or epilogues. My thinking is that if it's worth the ink, it's worth putting in the actual story.

    The worst case is when the writer seems to think something is missing from the story, so instead of fixing the story, they add a prologue hoping it ties up a plot hole or adds the emotion that was missing from the story. Worse, is when they add an epilogue, because that means they're pretty much admitting their ending isn't right.

    The thing is, if a story is written right, it doesn't need a prologue or epilogue. That's not to say all good stories do without them, or that adding one will make a story bad. But if a story doesn't ever need one, why bother? Why not just write a story that doesn't use one, because it doesn't need one, and that imo will be a stronger story for it.

    I have no problem with preview chapters or summaries of the next book in a series, but I don't want it to be an epilogue for the reasons stated above.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    In my case it stops the book dragging on.
     
  7. Mallory
    Offline

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2010
    Messages:
    4,274
    Likes Received:
    191
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    Popsicledeath -- Normally I agree with this, but I think in Elg's case she just wants to end on a brighter tone as the rest of her story was quite dark. She's not using the epilogue to tie up a knot or fix a plot hole, just to make a more positive scene to not end on a totally depressing note.

    If Soc and Nate are being reunited after a long time, you could go with something that would make the reader laugh. Some ideas...

    Nate or Soc has changed their appearance in some way. i.e. a haircut that seemed cool at the time but was corny an hour later, or a lame outfit, and the other playfully makes fun of it. Or, they play a harmless, in-good-fun but still funny prank on some local grump or fuddy-duddy.

    I don't think you need a preview next chapter, but if you do, make it something huge that kicks off a conflict yet doesn't give anything major away.
     
  8. Islander
    Offline

    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Sweden
    The only justification I can see for the existence of prologues and epilogues, is when you want to add some story that doesn't quite belong to the rest - either because it's optional, or because it's part of another story.

    If you just want to tell the reader what happened to the characters after the conflict ended, nothing stops you from adding an anti-climactic chapter at the end. Tolkien had a long anti-climactic section in The Lord of The Rings after the ring was destroyed in Mount Doom, and it worked very well, if I remember it right.

    Tanith Lee did an interesting thing in her novel The Electric Forest. The story ends on a tragic note, but in the epilogue, the whole story is turned on its head and the reader finds out things were not at all what they thought. I think that also worked very well - the epilogue didn't belong to the main, tragic story, even if it contained it.
     
  9. popsicledeath
    Offline

    popsicledeath Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    71

    I understand, and imo that's an even worse reason.

    If you want the story to end on a lighter note, find a way to end the story on a lighter note. If the story naturally leads to an ending the writer isn't happy with, then the last thing the writer should do is try one up the story by tacking on something superfluous to the actual story in an attempt to change the meaning or results of the actual story.

    These sorts of constructions are almost always a mistake, because almost always the writer is trying to add something to a story that the story doesn't need (or want) added. If you investigate a writer, almost always the reasoning behind prologues or epilogues ends up being something along these lines. They couldn't figure out how to work the backstory into the actual story in a way that didn't feel contrived, so hey, just tack on a prologue. Or they didn't like where the story naturally led to, so hey, easy enough to wrap it all up by tacking on a prologue.

    Anything that should needs to be in a story can be exactly that, in the story. Of course, making major changes to a story that's already 'done' isn't always easy, but tacking on a prologue or epilogue usually is pretty easy, which should tell us something.

    To me this sounds like a situation where it's time to go back through and do more revisions so the story can end where it should (or where the writer wants, since it's not always the same, heh).
     
  10. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    Actually I think the story does need it - otherwise I destroy the MC in the final sentence. If I don't destroy him he becomes an unsympathetic character.

    However he also doesn't deserve it - I think I leave the reader with a massive injustice. I haven't left Nate coming back as a happy ending either, I wrote it today. It is merely a sign life may improve.
     
  11. popsicledeath
    Offline

    popsicledeath Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    71
    You asked a question, I answered. I believe the best epilogues are the ones that never get written. If you don't like my answer and want to argue against it, that's up to you, but I've said my piece and have nothing more to add.

    Epilogue:

    I could have added this in my actual reply, but instead am going to add it here, after my reply, for whatever reason.

    Maybe your final scene, or even just your final sentence, need work. Without reading the work, granted, it makes no sense to me to add an entire epilogue to rectify a single, final sentence, when maybe the best way is to address that sentence or scene directly if it's not finishing the story how and where you want.

    If the sentence is too near and dear to you to be touched, then maybe that's a sign the darling needs killed.
     
  12. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    Well actually current epilogue is 180 words - maybe i should send you it lol I do actually value you your opinion you an amazing reviewer - even when I dont' agree with you.

    The final sentence no I am not wedded to beyond the fact it is perfect it just is also a cliff hanger.

    If I go on to write chapters more it drags the book on. This allows me to cut out the crap and have an ending that will continue my series on.
     
  13. popsicledeath
    Offline

    popsicledeath Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    71
    Cliffhanger + epilogue = my brain just assploded.
     
  14. Unit7
    Offline

    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Messages:
    1,151
    Likes Received:
    59
    When a book has an prologue and an epilogue I just consider them the first and last chapter. The way I see it you might aswell just call them chapters.
     
  15. Show
    Offline

    Show Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,495
    Likes Received:
    30
    The actual story does give me some idea. I happen to like more than some idea thank you very much. I invested all this in these characters, I ain't going to mind getting a look at their lives down the road. I've found epilogues a fun read many times. I consider them to BE part of the story. And I like reading them if they're good, and I've found many that are.
     
  16. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    sorry, i wasn't thinking of the 'preview' of their next book that some established authors' publishers include in the back of the book...

    however, that should never be included in a ms by a new and unknown writer, since it's strictly the publisher's decision to do so and only done when the author is well-known and his/her fans are eager to see what's next...

    and it's not akin to an 'epilogue' unless the next book is a sequel, which again, you should never include in a ms if you're not a bestselling author, since your submitted ms must be a stand-alone read...
     
  17. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    Even if I self publish it ? Surely in that case to do so would be my decision ?

    Basically I have three paragraphs which could either end this book or start the next one. Either way Nate has to come back, I feel it would give me more freedom with the second book to be able to set it further in the future with my MC already back on his feet and coping with life again.

    It isn't really integral to this story he does, I've managed to do it in such a way it doesn't impact or affect the clifff hanger.
     
  18. ArtWander
    Offline

    ArtWander Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2011
    Messages:
    394
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Redlands, CA
    It's funny...when I first started reading books, I never read prologues or epilogues. Now, I find them quite enjoyable most of the time.
    As for the how, I find that epilogues that can somehow show a window into the characters lives after the events of the story are very agreeable with me. I find it to be a kind of cherry on top of the large pie of the book :)
     
  19. Xeniyah
    Offline

    Xeniyah Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2011
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Personally, I don't mind epilogues much. As stated above, sometimes they really are a cherry on the top of the cake and I really enjoy reading them. I think it really depends on the story whether you'd add an epilogue.

    For example, to me it doesn't make sense if your actual story covers 3 months and the final chapter is set in the year after, I really prefer an epilogue then, makes more sense to me as a reader. Just like your example, if what he does is not integral to the story it would make it very confusing for me as a reader to have that as a final chapter or a part of the final chapter. I'd rather see it in an epilogue.
     
  20. Tesgah
    Offline

    Tesgah Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Oslo, Norway
    Epilogues are great at the end of a series, or at the end of a novel without a sequel. But it has to be something important to the story and the feeling you want the reader to have. You should also only add an epilogue if you can't get the information into the story in any other way, but that's just my opinion.

    Personally, I felt that the epilogue in Harry Potter 7 was a great example of a good epilogue. A perfect ending to a fantastic series :)
     

Share This Page