Monday, December 09, 2013
The craft of rewriting-Analysis-Epilogue
By OFW chief editor:
Published: May 11, 2013
An epilogue is the section following the final chapter that tells the reader what happened after the main story is over. Often epilogues are used to wrap up questions about the story that haven’t been answered in the main story arc. This can be a powerful tool, but often it isn’t needed. Part of analyzing our epilogue is making that determination.
Can this information be included in the story?
If we’ve used the epilogue to tie up plot strings that we were too lazy to complete in the main story, the reader will realize this. Examine the epilogue. If we can finish the book using another chapter instead, then that is what we should do. The epilogue is an afterword, meant to show the characters beyond the story’s timeline.
Is it full of explanations or revelations that set up a second book?
These tricks will not pull readers into the next novel. Most times, an epilogue that does this has the opposite effect. If the epilogue introduces another sort of cliffhanger, or a preview of another story that is intended to hook the reader in all over again, we should delete it. The reader will be more open to the next book if she’s not shoved toward it with the current one.
Is the ending clear without the epilogue?
If the ending is clear without it, we have to decide whether or not the epilogue can be eliminated. Many writers enjoy using an epilogue to give the reader a glimpse of “after happily ever after” but if it’s not necessary, we should consider the possibility that it may serve to irritate the reader, rather than amuse her.
Renee Miller & Carlos Cortes
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