I know you’ve heard the saying that the first sentence (paragraph or page) sells your first book and the last page sells the next book. That’s always in my mind when I’m writing or reading. I love finishing a great read, closing the book and sitting there in awe, thinking about the characters. Doesn’t happen too often but it does happen.
Yesterday I finished my novella. I didn’t feel the same euphoria I felt when I finished my first novel and I wondered about that. Still haven’t figured out why. When I went to bed last night, my characters were still throwing dialogue at me–as they’ve done through the entire story. They talk to me continuously. They even pointed out some problem areas that I’ll fix today.
But, back to my ending. I have an epilogue. This story seemed to call for one.
An epilogue or epilog is a piece of writing at the end of a work of literature or drama, usually used to bring closure to the work.
An epilogue is a final chapter at the end of a story that often serves to reveal the fates of the characters. Some epilogues may feature scenes only tangentially related to the subject of the story. They can be used to hint at a sequel or wrap up all the loose ends. They can occur at a significant period of time after the main plot has ended.
An epilogue can continue in the same narrative style and perspective as the preceding story, although the form of an epilogue can occasionally be drastically different from the overall story.
My epilogue takes place a few weeks after my story ends, a wrap-up, a hint of things to come, a happily ever after. I like it, but I feel some doubt. I’ve read that we shouldn’t use the epilogue as the actual end of a story, and I’m wondering if I’ve done that.
My question is: when do epilogues NOT work? Do you like them? Do they feel like a cheat to you? When are they most effective? Give me your best advice and thoughts regarding epilogues.