1. adam33
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    adam33 New Member

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    Rules of Epilogues

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by adam33, May 24, 2012.

    What would you say the general rules are for epilogues?

    Are they to end a book entirely or can a sequel be forged based on the epilogue of a previous title? How long do you think they should be?

    Can the POV be changed entirely during an epilogue? (Say, the book is written in third POV and the author elects to do the epilogue from the protagonist's POV?)

    Must the epilogue be written about the main character or can it be written about the antagonist, a supporting character, or even a pet hamster who was watching everything?

    Any other sundry thoughts on epilogues?
     
  2. Mark_Archibald
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    Mark_Archibald Active Member

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    The rules of writing fiction is that there are no rules! That being said, most epilogues are used to give closure to the stories characters.

    Seeing as it is the end of the book and there is no more foreshadowing to do, no red herrings to put in play, no more plot twists to occur, than maybe it is better to go with something 'short and sweet'. Again, there are no rules; write an 80 page epilogue if you want.

    Certainly, if used effectivley it would add contrast and provoke thoughts in the reader as they get ready to put the book the shelf.

    After reading hundreds of novels, I've noticed there is a trend where somebody dies at the end of a book. Commonly this is the antagonsit of the story, but if you can write something that is out of the box, something that isn't cliche, than I think it makes for good reading material.

    In my opinion the more unorthodox your epilogue is, the better.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sure, but there are guidelines you are well advised to follow if you ever want to get published.

    An epilogue generally wraps up the story, particularly with events that take place long after the main story has ended.

    An epilogue should not, in general, be used to set the stage for a sequel. In fact, setting up for a sequel is poor practice in any case, and should NEVER be done in a first novel.

    A typical epilogue might show a person, presumed killed in the course of a novel, ordering an umbrella drink by the pool in a Caribbean resort.

    Or it could be a scene in which the sadistic perp, sent to prison for a ten year sentence, gets a shiv through the heart in the shower.

    Epilogues typically provide, or hint at, closure. Sue Grafton's V is for Vengeance has an epilogue in which
    the organized crime head boards a plane out of the country with his lover, who is also the mother of one of his victims. And we have seen she knows guns, and has no qualms about using one.
     
  4. adam33
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    adam33 New Member

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    Thank you both for your input! This will be very helpful as I wrap up the sequel to my first book. I'm well ahead of schedule, but I would like to finish it this week before the dreaded proofreading and editing processes begin.

    I have a nice little twist I want to throw in that will almost, but not quite, start the third book of the series. I am still debating on whether to have a short epilogue or just give one hell of a hint that things are not what they seem. I'll run it by my betas and see what they think.

    Again, I thank you both!
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Whatever you do, don't leave a dangly bit to hang a sequel on! Publishers will take a chance on ONE novel from a new writer. They don't want to be pushed toward sequels at that point in time.

    Yes, they want to know you have more than one novel in you, but a hook for a sequel is NOT the way. Nearly every eager new writer wants to make a series out of his or her first novel; most won't follow through, or the quality just won't be there. Furthermore, most first novels struggle to break even.

    So leave the hooks in your tackle box. Your first novel must stand on its own, and the story must be complete in itself. Save your hook for the beginning of the sequel, IF, and it's a huge IF, your first novel beats the odds and is successful enough to warrant a sequel.
     
  6. PeterC
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    PeterC Active Member

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    I definitely think the epilogue can be in a different style than the main story. That's one of the appealing aspects of epilogues... otherwise it just sounds like a lost chapter. My work in progress takes place entirely on an alien planet. I wrote an epilogue (and a prologue) that take place on Earth. I like that contrast. On the other hand, I haven't decided if I want to keep them.
     
  7. astrostu
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    astrostu Member

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    I would just say, please do not do an epilogue like the one in Harry Potter. I thought it was an incredibly cheesy way to end a great series.
     
  8. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    I think every one of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series ended on a cliff hanger. Including the first one.
     
  9. adam33
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    adam33 New Member

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    I thought it was rather interesting to get a glimpse of Harry's (finally!) happy family life, IMHO. Regardless, I decided not to end this volume with an epilogue. I found a much better way of halting it and sort of setting up the next book. So far my betas seem to be enjoying it and are laughing their asses off. (Mission accomplished!)
    That's very interesting. I may have to check those out. I need something new to read, anyway.

    Cheers to everyone who responded! I hope that this thread helps others out as well.
     

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