The Epilogue Debate

So over on Romancing The Blog today, Jennie Sizemore wrote about epilogues–in the context, of course, of the latest Harry Potter.  No spoilers, here (I’m not that mean), but Deathly Hallows does have an epilogue, and while it’s somewhat cheesy, I loved it.  Of course, I also wanted MORE.  But then I will always want more.  Rowling created a world and characters I care about, so it’s a natural inclination to want to know what happens to them.  Sizemore comments “I always know that I’ve come across a really exceptional book when I read the last page and immediately start daydreaming additional scenes.”  I think this is what I really love about epilogues.  I like to see where the characters I’ve grown to love wound up.  I suppose there’s room for a “bad” epilogue when the characters end up somewhere I didn’t expect or want.  But in romance, with the requisite happily ever after, that’s not usually the case.  Of course, some people would argue that because of the HEA, epilogues are unnecessary.  A good friend of mine hates epilogues, the sole purpose of which is to show the hero and heroine pregnant or with a kid.  I’m on the fence on that, but normally, if it’s a good book, I’ll take whatever extra moments I can get with the characters.

That having been said, I have never written an epilogue for my books.  This is probably because the characters are mine.  And I know them on a much more intimate level than the reader ever does.  In the course of writing a book, I come to know them as whole people.  I know what childhood accident led to that scar on his chin or where her birthmark is.  Same as I would (or will, rather) for my own kids (when I have them).  So I know what goes on after the happily ever after in my books in far greater detail than a reader will.  I suppose at that point, I don’t feel it necessary to write one for my own satisfaction.

But what do you readers think?  Yay or Nay for epilogues?

3 thoughts on “The Epilogue Debate

  1. I guess I’m the one who hates an epilogue for the sake of the children. Occasionally I sort of like them, but I have to be really in love with the story and the characters and really not want to leave them. I wish that were the case for more of the books I spend time in.

    Most epilogues are sooooo cheesy, and sometimes they take me from being really into two characters who sparked off each other for a few hundred pages to seeing these characters in some moment that is constructed to be perfect, but in which that spark is missing. And my enjoyment of the book is somewhat diminished.

    I enjoy epilogues that tie up a thread, particularly one I’d forgotten was dangling. And I like those in series which open up another can of worms and show you what you have to look forward to. Debra Webb’s “Colby Agency” series for Harlequin Intrigue was great with that.

  2. Sometimes I like epilogues, but most of the time, if there is a need for one – either to give closure (The Dark Tower), time jumps (The Time Traveler’s Wife), revelations about villains (The Stand)etc. But mostly, they are not used for this in the few books I can think of that have an epilogue.

    If the epilogue is used to give further information about the plot or to tie up the MAJOR plotlines, I just wonder why the author didn’t include another scene.

    So there you go – in a nutshell – I like epilogues if they are useful and could not be included as just the last scene. 🙂 Prologues on the other hand…ew. For various and obvious reasons. Great post, btw! I always like reading one or two that make me consider something like this! Hope the word count comes along well!

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