MFRW Author 52-week blog challenge
This week's blog prompt asks whether epilogues are helpful or hurtful. Like many things, the honest answer is, "It depends."
I seldom use epilogues in my own stories. When I conclude that last chapter, the story has ended. Finis. Done. And ... cut! However, sometimes the end of the story begs for just a little more, especially when the characters insist upon it. At such times, I relent and write just a smidgen more to assure readers that what they think will happen does happen to the characters. The epilogue ties up all those remaining loose ends with a tidy bow. In romance, such epilogues often deal with the inevitable consequences of all that explicit intimacy: pregnancy and/or children and the joyous reception of such news.
Epilogues, like prologues, should not be necessary to the story: they are supplemental. Readers should not feel lost or left behind, respectively, if they don't read the prologue or epilogue. The epilogue should not be necessary to conclude the story; it's like an encore, the extension of the show to please the audience with a snippet more entertainment. If the epilogue is necessary to finish the story, then I prefer the author simply show it as a concluding chapter.
Many authors use epilogues to set up the next story in a series; therefore, the epilogue acts more like a prologue to the next book. I see and understand doing that; however, that's not what an epilogue is supposed to do--not if you're a purist.
Regardless, my feelings toward epilogues, in general, are ambivalent.
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