The Easiness of Epilogues

There is a very famous epilogue that I absolutely loathe. Reading that epilogue for the first time made me very upset—it completely ruined a long-running series. It was certainly not the ending I was looking for and, as a reader, I would have been much more satisfied if the book had ended at the end of the last chapter.

Epilogues are typically used for two reasons: to wrap up loose ends or share future information with the reader.

I personally don’t think an epilogue should ever wrap up loose ends. The epilogue is separate from the chapters for a reason. A reader shouldn’t have to read the epilogue to understand the ending of the book. Using epilogues in this way is a really easy way out of settling the conflicts in your book. Writing a manuscript is tricky—especially making sure every plot line, big and small, is resolved.

Sometimes an epilogue is necessary to give readers a quick glimpse of the future. If a book or series is coming to a close, an epilogue can reaffirm a happy (or a sad) ending or even briefly show how the events of the book impacted the characters long-term. Other times, epilogues show the future for absolutely no reason. If the events in your epilogue are completely unrelated to the narrative arc of your story, then it’s most likely unnecessary.

Just like with prologues, many agents and editors advise against writing an epilogue for your manuscript. If you really feel like an epilogue is the best decision for your book, please do make sure you’re not including one because it’s the easiest option for you as the writer. Make sure your book is completely finished, that every string of plot has been tied in a knot, and then consider writing an epilogue that doesn’t repeat any information and will have some sort of emotional impact on the reader.