1. rybowman
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    rybowman New Member

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    Where to end a novel?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by rybowman, Aug 17, 2010.

    Hi everyone. I'm nearing the end of my first draft of my first novel. The closer I get, the more it seems like I have to end it three or six months down the road. The problem is, or seems to me at least, is that the rest of the novel takes place over the course of eight days.

    Do you think it's a problem for an entire novel to take place over such a short period of time and then the last chapter is "Three months later"?Would this by definition be an epilogue, or could it just be a numbered chapter like all the rest? Are there major disadvantages to end this way that I may be missing?

    Any advice would be great. Thanks
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    My first novel takes place over three weeks. Two weeks together then a months break before the last week kicks in. So far none of my readers have bothered:)
     
  3. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    No, I think you're good. A lot of stories end with a glimpse of things happening down the line. It would be considered an epilogue if it is discussing the future of the characters, but the action is pretty much over. If your last chapter is advancing the action and just happens to take place a couple months after the last chapter then it would not really be an epilogue. Either way sounds fine as long as you clearly show the jump to your readers.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You can certainly make it an epilolgue, but there is no reason not to make it a final chapter instead.

    Prologues are a different matter. Prologues delay the uncommitted reader's entry into the main story, which is why they are usually better left out, even when they aren't infodumps of background information.

    But an epilogue can provide a resolution of unresolved tensions or questions. They can help the already committed reader closure that may be impossible to provide in the normal timeframe of the story.

    My suggestion would be to only make it an epilogue if it is very short, no more than a page or two. If it is any longer than that, make it a chapter in its own right.

    The drawback of making it an epilogue is that it is likely to be perceived as an afterthought rather than an integral part of the story. Furthermore, because it must take place after the climax, an epilogue emphasises that it is just tying up loose ends.

    There are epilogues, particularly in the horror and thriller genres, that put a question mark after the virtual The End, and that suggest a possible sequel (Never make it demand a sequel, though).
     
  5. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not knowing your story I find this diffucult to answer.
    Would it be possibile to start your story at the end, without giving away the conclution, then use the 'eight days' as back story. 'three months earlier' etc.
    End by refering back to the first chapter and conclued story.
    Hope this helps.
     
  6. Lmc71775
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    Lmc71775 Active Member

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    I've done "a few weeks later" and it seemed to work. I think you would be good, although I really like Trilby's idea. Maybe you can do that in your revision?
     
  7. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    In the last page.

    I think it's a perfect idea I would consider doing on purpose.

    I can even imagine it more extreme; a one day story with a several years later ending or a decade long story that ends before it started.


    In short: Don't impose limits on your creativity; it's already hard enough to find good ideas when you don't force any rules on them.
     
  8. Cecil
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    Cecil Member

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    I don't know the story, but I can't currently imagine any scenario in which I would be bothered by a several month jump right at the end. And I agree with the notion that if it is part of the main action, then you should make it a chapter, but if it's just tying up loose ends you could make it an epilogue.

    You could probably pull of an even larger time jump and it still wouldn't bother me.
     
  9. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    There's nothing wrong with leaving a few loose ends at the end of a novel, as long as they're not major issues concerning the actual narrative involved, i.e. they could be about a character. It opens the way for a sequel and leaves something to the imagination of the reader.

    If anything, the larger the time jump, the better. The shorter it is, the more likely the reader will assume that the characters did nothing of note in between.
     
  10. Motley
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    Motley Active Member

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    There are books that jump months between chapters regularly. I don't see why jumping a few at the end would hurt.
     
  11. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't see a problem with that. I've done similar, almost always do.
     

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