As I come to the end of another book, I've been thinking about epilogues. They aren't always necessary, and can even sometimes be a bit annoying, but as I looked back at my books, I realized that I do them more often than not. I'd rather have the reader get that final taste of the characters being happy than to end on a whopping dramatic note and then nothing else further. Tastes for epilogues definitely vary, however, and there are probably a couple I could have done without. Examining the epilogues I have, I'm going to try to remember why I did them. (These aren't spoilers, because I think we all know that every couple of every book will end up together, no matter how hopeless it seems during the course of the story. These are romances, after all!)
Book 1: SPANISH MAGNATE, RED-HOT REVENGE – Epilogue. It wasn't necessary, but since it was my first book I think I thought I needed it. It doesn't add anything to the story.
Book 2: CAVELLI'S LOST HEIR – Epilogue. This one had a purpose, which was the show the heroine settling into her new life and being happy. There was also a thread about her mother that I tied up here.
Book 3: THE PRINCE'S ROYAL CONCUBINE – Epilogue. Once more, this one had a purpose. Since Cristiano and Antonella were on opposite sides of conflicting nations, and their relationship affected their countries, I wanted to show them a couple of years later and show how relations between the nations had changed.
Book 4 (a novella) – KEPT FOR THE SHEIKH'S PLEASURE – Epilogue. It's a year later and I needed to show how Genie was doing in her new life. Not only that, but Zafir had some things to get used to about her job, so that's in there too.
Book 5: THE DEVIL'S HEART – Epilogue. It was necessary to tie up a thread from the book. Also, I believe it takes place two years later.
Book 6: BEHIND THE PALACE WALLS – No epilogue. The story was complete without it, though I did move ahead in story time by about a year in the last scene, so I technically had an epilogue-type wrap up without the epilogue.
Book 7: THE MAN WITH THE MONEY – Epilogue. There were a couple of threads from the story that needed tying up. No time jump. It takes place right after the last chapter.
Book 8: STRANGERS IN THE DESERT – Epilogue. It's needed in this book to answer a major question that the story raises.
Book 9: CAPTIVE BUT FORBIDDEN – No epilogue. It's all tied up without it, though I do give a quick summary of the next couple of years in the last paragraph.
Book 10: MARRIAGE BEHIND THE FACADE – No epilogue. The story is all tied up without it and there's nothing left to resolve or explain.
There are other books which I've written that haven't come out yet, but I'm not going to talk about those. Clearly, I have a predisposition to write epilogues. I think I just like knowing that the characters are going to be all right, and I figure my readers like to know that too. If the relationship has been particularly rocky or in question throughout the book, I think an epilogue showing how the characters have adjusted is appropriate.
Not everyone agrees with me. Some writers like to end on that high dramatic note and then that's it. Some readers don't seem to mind at all. But I do. As a reader, I really want to know it's all going to be okay. I want to see them together and happy, and know it's going to work. Just because this is a romance with a happy ending doesn't mean I believe the happy ending will last if I'm not comfortable with how the characters are as a couple throughout the story.
Once more, that's a personal preference. So now I want to know what you prefer. Epilogue or no epilogue? Do you have any favorites in books you've read? Any that were totally superfluous (like my first book)? Any you hated?
Hi Lynn! I have to say that I’m an epilogue girl. I love that little extra piece of the story when you see your H and h be happy with a family (or even just together). I do a lot of them and I’ll admit they’re shamelessly self indulgent most of the time, but I don’t care! There’s enough uncertainty in life, it’s nice to show a bit of certainty in a story…
Often when I’m writing a story I’ll already have the epilogue in mind and it helps to keep me going, to know where they need to end up!
@Abby Green: Yay, another epilogue girl! I so like knowing how things turn out and getting that last happy glimpse of the couple. *sigh* 🙂
I don’t always need an epilogue, but I really like them. I think the books that warrant them the most are those where the hero and heroine’s romance has occurred over a very short period of time. For those, I want an epilogue that takes place far enough in the future to assure me that it was really love and not in-the-heat-of-the-moment lust.
@Kate: Hi, Kate! Thanks for your thoughts! I think you are so right about that. And my books do so often occur over a condensed period, which much be why I always want to write those epilogues. 🙂
personally I love epilogues so I support you there. I always add my own in my head if the story doesn’t have one. 😉 Romance stories, I believe, they are about happy endings therefore an epilogue is like an emphasis of that.
Keep going, you’re doing a great job.
@Henza: Hi, Henza! I love that you add them if they aren’t there. 🙂 I’ll stop feeling so torn about adding them to my books. I think readers really like them, and you are all proving that! Thank you so much for your lovely words. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoy my stories.
I vote for epilogues! I love them! The ending of a story is exciting but the epilogue gives us more! Some stories are too good to end. I root for a heroine, cry with her, laugh and swoon with her and then the guy comes around and promises to love and to live happlily ever after. But does he? Not that I have trust issues. I usually love him to and always think, poor baby. Then the ending comes along and boom it’s over. I want to know that the tears and heartache were worth it. I want to see both of them happy. The Prince’s Royal Concubine is one of my favorite re-reads and my favorite Harris book. That epilogue had me in tears. Antonella is one of my favorite princesses. Cavelli’s Lost Heir was a huge epilogue to me. I loved Royal Concubine so much that I discovered this website! and found that there was another book- Cavelli’s Lost Heir. I was in heaven! I don’t need an epilogue everytime but when I see that there is one I get excited! Closure! More! Yay! They are a treat!
@Mary E: Hi, Mary! Thank you so much! Woot, you make me feel awesome! I’m so glad you love Antonella and Cristiano so much. They really did need an epilogue! Glad you enjoyed Cavelli’s Lost Heir as well! I just can’t tell you how happy I am that you’ve connected so strongly with my characters. Thank you. 🙂
I really like epilogues – esp where I loved the book and at the end, I’m not ready to let go/ finish. The epilogue gives me a couple of extra pages to hang onto the H&H 😀
In saying that I do prefer epilogues that have a purpose eg: tie up a loose thread, where the couple have a child & the heroine was infertile etc……
@Joanne Dannon: Hi, Joanne! Another vote for epilogues – awesome! I do prefer they tie up a thread myself, but I have been guilty of writing them just because. See first book.
I think I particularly like epilogues for Presents books because the couples almost always tend to fall in love very quickly and often after starting from a point of animosity. I know it’s possible to be sure very quickly (my parents were engaged 19 days after they met, married less than a year later and are still going strong after 34 years), but I find that the epilogue sometimes makes me believe in the strength of the relationship more than just overcoming the crisis and popping the question.
@Tara: Tara, so true! Presents are so intense, and so fast paced, that an epilogue is a very good place to see that this wasn’t just hormones and lust.
I love that so many of you have voted for epilogues. Restores my faith that I’m doing the right thing when I write them!
Hi Lynn, I am a fan of epilogues… only because usually i dont want a story to end and it’s almost like when you get to the last page of the last chapter, you hope there’s just-one-more; you turn the page and there’s the epilogue and it’s like YAY, a tiny bit more 😀
@TashNz: Hi, Tash! Yes, I agree with you! It’s like the cherry on top of the sundae. 🙂
Lynn, I have a suggestion. Why not post epilogues,character tidbits, deleted chapters, etc on your website? Especially if you feel iffy about something. Or if you bombarded with fan mail on your books. Again, I discovered this website because I love Royal Concubine so much. Of course a related book is the jackpot!
I agree that some stories need a epilogue to tie up lose ends. But even going into the future during the last chapter is awesome!
@Mary E: Hi, Mary! I do need to update my Behind the Book segments on my book pages! I love adding those little tidbits of things that inspired me to write a book. I often go searching for things like that when I’ve read and enjoyed someone else’s book.
I might comb through my deleted files and see if I have anything worth using for deleted scenes. But my deletion files are chaotic messes! Still, could be fun. 🙂 Thanks for commenting!
I love epiloges just that little bit extra information that takes you kind of behind the dramatic scene moment and tells you that is has indeed all worked out OK !
So I am definitely a epologe girl ! 😆 😀
😎 I am a prologue/epilogue kind of person and it shows in my stuff too. I like to see if the girl really does enjoy her life after a few years and is she settled into that life.
When I was in my early 20s I wouldn’t read epilogues and prologues because they weren’t part of the story. I changed my mind in the last few years.
Hope you are doing well Lynn… it is cold here.
What a wonderful topic! I love epilogues! If a book is really good, and you can’t get enough of it, it’s like icing on the cake. Epilogues sweeten up the story for the reader, giving them that extra boost of an HEA.
Keep writing them, Lynn! 😉
Romances often take place over a short, often very intense, period of time, Some developnents, like babies for example, take a bit longer to come around. So epilogues are a good way to tie up the loose ends in a story. They can also help show the reader that this relationship really is a keeper.