The Epilogue – Yay or Nay?
By: Aryanne Ferguson
As a reader, I’ve always have mixed feelings about the epilogue. Why was it necessary? Why didn’t the author just end where he/she meant to end? Why end the story, then say, “Wait! Just kidding! Here’s where I really meant to end.” I used to look at the epilogue like the ‘p.s.’ Back when people wrote letters, the p.s. was necessary. Now people write emails and the p.s. has seen a decline. Personally, I only use it if I’m feeling cheeky.
I eventually came to tolerate epilogues—if they have a purpose. First example, the classic Stephen King novel, “Christine” (1983). I’ve read it 3+ times, and it still creeps me out (I love when novels stand the test of time). No spoilers, but the end of Christine is positive; close the book then and all is right with the world. But turn a couple blank pages and read the decidedly negative, panic-inducing epilogue. Well done, Stephen King. Your novel never aimed to cause good feelings and you succeeded as an author. I applaud your epilogue. When I reread ‘Christine,’ I choose whether or not to reread the epilogue based on if I can stand feeling like a demonically possessed car is going to hunt me down and then run over me, probably over and over.
Second example, the 7th Harry Potter novel (2006). I’ve read this novel 5+ times out of pure love. But the epilogue is pure fluff. At the end of the novel I knew Voldemort was dead (Reader, you must know that at least). The only work the epilogue did was a time jump, and at the end of the epilogue, Voldemort was still dead. The epilogue halfheartedly gave me more of the same warm fluffy feelings from the end of the novel. When I reread this book, I rarely read the epilogue again.
So, Reader, you decide. Yay or nay on epilogues in your own writing?
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