Thursday, October 06, 2005

Epilogues and Endings

Those of you who checked out yesterday's link know that the prize in my website competition is a Down Under edition of Craving Beauty, which comes with a special bonus feature at the end - a letter from the heroine. The letter acts as an epilogue, which the original book didn't have.

Several people who have so far entered the competition have commented on their love for epilogues, a love I fully understand. I adore writing epilogues, especially when there is something ‘unresolved’ in the book that needs to be tied up. If the heroine is about to have a baby, I need to see her and the baby healthy and well after the birth. Or if there’s been a major operation, I want to see the character a ways down the track, doing fine.

If I read a book and it doesn’t have an epilogue, I sometimes create one in my own head. For me, the characters become real people, whose lives continue on even after the pages of the book are closed. The epilogue is a glimpse into that life, a look through the window and I can’t resist peeking in. If you ask me about any of the characters I’ve ever written about, I could probably tell you the names of their children, what career they’re currently pursuing and whether they’ve had a fight lately. Yes, I know it makes me sound slightly nuts but I’m okay with that.

However, I know some people don’t read epilogues. They feel that it’s an extra that dilutes the powerful ending of a book and takes away from the tension. They don’t want to think about these dramatic, passionate characters living an ‘ordinary’ life. For them, the book ends when the climax is reached and the last chapter finishes. Nothing more is necessary.

What side of the line do you fall on? Do you want that glimpse into the future, that peek behind the curtain, or are you happy to leave the characters happy, their future undefined by anything but your imagination?

12 comments :

katie g. said...

I LOVE epilogues. I am always disappointed in books without epilogues.

Barbara said...

I'm agree with you Nalini if the book does not have an epilogue I create one on my own.

Nalini Singh said...

Me too, katie!

Barbara - I actually usually write myself an epilogue for my Desires, even if it doesn't end up in the book :)And I just realised that of all my books written so far, only one doesn't have an epilogue (once you count the CB extra). Even the book coming out next March has one!

Barbara said...

Great. I can't wait for the new book coming up in March.

Peyton said...

The epilogue is what wraps up the story. I am disappointed when there is not one. I must mention that if the author is going to have "sequel" the epilogue should let us know the outcome without revealing too much.

Nalini Singh said...

Barbara - thanks. You're great for my ego :)

That's a definite balancing act, Peyton. I have to admit, I don't like books that aren't obviously part of a series, having an epilogue that teases you about the next book. Makes me crazy!

Laura said...

I love writing epi's too! I haven't done it for all my stories, but I like to see where the hero and heroine will be in the near future. Of course, my CP loves to offer ideas. She calls this choose your own adventure, which cracks me up.

Nalini Singh said...

Lol, Laura. When I sold my first book, all my friends were offering to be characters in the next one - one even agreed to be a camel so long as I put his name in! *g*

bina said...

i tend 2 read back 2 front; so the epilogue is very important 2 me. if a book don't have a epilogue, i make it up in my head.

Nalini Singh said...

Bina, that's such an interesting way to do things. Do you read the whole book that way or do you flick to the back to see how things turn out, then return to the front?

bina said...

hey! i was just flicking back 2 blogs i answered and am waiting an answer 4.

in answer 2 your answer; i actually read the books all three ways - but not all at once.

reason is simple time constraint. oh 4got, some books i just can't wait to c how it ends!

Nalini Singh said...

Books that you can't wait to finish - those are the greatest. Even if it means a burnt dinner in my case! (That happened recently).