1. BlessedbyHorus
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    BlessedbyHorus Member

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    Quick Epilogue Question(NEED HELP!)

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by BlessedbyHorus, Dec 23, 2014.

    First let me welcome myself as a writer. :)

    Anyways...I have a quick question. I've been asking this same question around the net to avail. And so I decided to ask it here. Can an epilogue take place in the past i.e before the time period of a story? Correct me if I'm wrong, but an epilogue is suppose to explain everything like the major problem in the story. That's exactly what my epilogue does. It covers/explains everything 100% that has happened in the story, but it takes place in the past, when the rest of the story(chapters) took place in the presents.

    So can an epilogue take place in the past? Or does it HAVE to be in the future? I.e like what happened to the characters and how the plot impacted them. My epilogue does not do that at all, but it does explain to the reader what the problem originally was/is, because rest of the chapters never did, but kept it in secret. Creating a big surprise to the reader. My epilogue also acts sorta like a cliff hanger. Some will say I should make my epilogue the prologue instead, but then it'll mess up/spoiler the surprise I have for the reader at the end.

    The problem is:

    1. It takes place in the past instead of future.

    2. Does not address how the plot has impacted the main characters.

    PS: thanks in advance.
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Hi, welcome to the forum. I boiled your question down and I'm having a hard time with a story that comes to completion yet needs an exposition in the form of an epilogue to explain what the story was about.

    Why is your reader going to stick around for a story they don't understand?

    As a writer, you can do anything, so it would depend on the story, and your skill as a writer, not whether you followed the standard epilogue format.

    But why a reveal about the beginning that comes after the story ends? It makes little sense. Stories often start with the ending, then immediately go back in time to explain to the reader how the ending came about. There's no reason some final explanation can't come at the end that clarifies something about the beginning of the story.

    What you are describing makes me suspect you had a great reveal but couldn't quite work it into the plot. Is the epilogue taking the easy way out?
     
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  3. BlessedbyHorus
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    BlessedbyHorus Member

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    I really appreciate the reply.:)

    Its not that the reader doesn't understand. He/She does understand. To elaborate on my story without revealing too much(for obvious reasons), What happens in my story is that there is a virus. During the course of the story its thought to be a virus by the reader and characters. But the epilogue reveals that its something else... That's why I made it into an epilogue. The regular ending was more based towards the character, if I am making sense.

    Agreed. But I just want to make sure.

    In my opinion I feel what happened in the past "connects the dots" in what happens in my story. i.e the virus not really being a virus.


    I don't know if its taking the easy way out. But in your opinion, am I better off ditching an epilogue and making it the ending? IMO I don't think it will hurt my regular.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2014
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Not knowing the story, or the epilogue, I'd say work the reveal into the ending. How do you handle it in the epilogue? It sounds like you are writing a prequel-type scene. If that's the case, how does it fit into the story? How would the characters at the end of the story find out about the reveal? And if they never find out it makes it sound like the epilogue is just a reveal to the reader, which might then be disjointed to that reader.
     
  5. Rain Oxford
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    Rain Oxford New Member

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    So it sounds like your epilogue is revealing a twist that you don't want anyone to know until the end. I personally love surprise twists. As long as it isn't something vital for the reader to know in the beginning, I say more power to you. Keep in mind, there are people who purposely don't read prologues or epilogues, so if it is vital to the story, maybe have the character(s) find out on the last chapter.
     
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  6. BlessedbyHorus
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    BlessedbyHorus Member

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    I actually plan on making a sequel. The "epilogue" in my story is actually very crucial to one of my main characters, that's another way it fits into the story. I think you're right, I don't think you're right with the epilogue being the easy way out.:D

    But I feel I can still work it into an ending.
     
  7. BlessedbyHorus
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    Yes! The bolded is EXACTLY what it is...

    And no it is not something they need to know in the beginning. Matter fact I find if I put in the beginning it'll ruin the story. I may go with making it and ending.

    But also note that the epilogue takes place in the past.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2014
  8. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    The impression I've got is that your story is along the lines of:

    Chapter 1/ Lord Archbottle is found dead.

    Chapters 2-12/ Lady Archbottle and Archie Archbottle (his nephew) are major suspects.

    Chapter 13/ Inspector Clue-Less solves the case by deducing that Lottie Archbottle (his mad older sister who's been in an asylum for years) escaped and did it.

    Epilogue/ The author explains that Lord Archbottle had a rare genetic disorder that caused his femoral artery to sever itself in a manner identical to being slashed with a razor.

    I may be being unfair, the above treatment may be overly simplistic and not represent what you're trying to do, in which case I apologize. However, if there's a grain of similarity, what I've written is horribly unrealistic. If, on the other hand I'd slipped in hints that the family inbreeding was becoming a problem (vide Lottie's insanity) I might get away with it.

    So, I'd suggest that you include, say, an archaeological dig that finds evidence of an ancient civilization. Give the poor reader a clue!
     
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  9. BlessedbyHorus
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    Don't worry guys I fixed the problem. ;)

    I made the epilogue the prologue AND the epilogue if you catch my drift. I put most of the epilogue in the prologue without ruining the "twist", while putting the "twist" in the epilogue which does not take place in the past but months later in the present storyline. It took me sometimes to think it up, but I came through. Anyways I really appreciated you guys help.

    @Shadowfax

    Thanks for the reply, but that's not really the format of my story. But thanks though.
     
  10. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    The movie Wild Things kind of does that. The ending reveals the twist and who the bad guys are, but during the credits, they show flashback scenes of exactly how they pulled it off.
     
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  11. plothog
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    This reminds me of a film called Contagion, which ends with a flashback showing the origins of the disease.
    I don't see an inherent problem with ending a story with a flashback, though I'm not sure I'd define such an ending as an epilogue.
     
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  12. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Your premise sounds intriguing.

    If your characters don't know what's going on, and you keep your readers firmly in their heads, I expect this could work very well.

    What do you expect the reader's reaction to be, if you keep this vital information till the very end? And what will their attitude be while reading the story through? That's the kind of thing to keep in your mind as you construct this. When writing, you create attitude as well as plot, character, etc. What attitude do you want the reader to assume?

    If you let the reader think they have all the information in hand, and they later find out they don't, they might get annoyed. Some people feel cheated by this approach. If, however, your characters are struggling to figure out what is wrong, and they never quite get there, I think your reader will know something 'else' is going on.

    I'm reminded of one of the cleverest books ever written ...Riddley Walker. That's almost exactly what happens. Throughout the story, the protagonist (Riddley) searches for the meaning of certain mythologies in his society, and the book ends with him thinking he's found the answers, and goes off to spread the word. But we discover that he hasn't really 'got' it at all—because we suddenly recognise what the 'relics' are that he's been worshipping. So yes, this can work. But damn, that book was cleverly done. It would be very hard to top it!
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2014
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  13. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    All the events portrayed in chapters one to twelve actually took place on planet Earth during the eighteen month solar flare period between the years 2 billion and one billion nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand BC?
     
  14. BlessedbyHorus
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    Well I expect their reactions to be...
    [​IMG]

    Heh heh... I may be pushing my luck, but that's the reaction I expect to be with the reader. As for the attitude, I don't think the readers will get annoyed because its stated many times that all the characters don't know exactly where the virus came from. Just like in the comic/TV show Walking Dead where all the character don't know how the zombies/walkers came about.

    And I really like your example with Riddley Walker.


    Yeah this is one of the main problems I was having. Does a flashback count as an epilogue?
     

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