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What is An Epilogue in a Book?

writing-6The epilogue of a book is a way to conclude it. It’s a specific piece of writing that is designed to bring closure to the narrative in some way. In most circumstances, it will be presented from the perspective that has been already offered. It can be a useful tool to use to wrap things up in an effective and logical way, but only if you include the epilogue in a correct manner.

So what is the right way to include an epilogue in a book? Here are the ways that you can use an epilogue effectively for your reader’s enjoyment.

#1. Wrap up the story after a violent or traumatic climax.

When the ending of a story is either abrupt, disturbing, or very surprising, the reader may find it difficult to accept what has happened. They’ve become so invested in the narrative that should a character die or the fate of a major character is left uncertain, this sort of conclusion will not be satisfying. The epilogue allows you to answer the questions that are raised from a climax that can be jolting.

#2. Show the results of decisions that are made.

Whenever we make a choice, there is a consequence that occurs. Some consequences are positive. If you’re hungry and decide to eat something, then the consequence is that you feel satisfied. If you decide to eat too much, the consequence might be negative. You could experience heartburn and digestive issues that make it tough to sleep that night.

The same should be true for your characters. Story events have positive and negative consequences. You can explore these consequences in the epilogue as a way to offer the reader a final conclusion to what has happened. The reader isn’t forced to imagine what the consequences might be.

#3. Offer more information to the reader that hasn’t been covered.

There are some pieces of information that are crucial to certain characters in your narrative that might not be critical to the final climax. The epilogue is a place where this information can be offered to the reader. Think of it as a way to explore the fate of certain characters that may not have been explored otherwise.

#4. Show what the future will look like.

Life doesn’t just stop when we experience a climatic event. If you get fired from a job, the sun is still going to rise tomorrow, right? The epilogue can be a way for the reader to see that the lives of your characters are continuing to move forward. This option is best used when there are sequels planned, but it can also be useful for characters that have experienced traumatic events.

The goal for this type of epilogue is to show a reader that the character is going to be fine at some point in time. It’s important to tell a story of recovery, even if it is only briefly covered in an epilogue. Everyone likes a story to come to an end with some sort of a positive.

#5. It can add realism to the primary plot.

The epilogue in a book can also be used to add more details to specific events that occurred in the story. It’s an option to go back and explain a complex portion of the plot or the reasons behind a certain event that occurs to one of your primary characters. This allows the reader an opportunity to understand your logic in writing the story as you did so there aren’t unanswered questions lingering in the air.

#6. It’s a way to provide resolution to various subplots.

Some stories are highly complex and involve multiple characters, families, and events. [ctt template=”6″ link=”c3DP7″ via=”yes” ]Finding a resolution for every character within the primary story might seem unreasonable. @networlding[/ctt]Using the epilogue is a way to “add an addendum” that covers the outcome or fate that each character in the story receives. It’s a brief summary of what each character went on to do with the rest of their lives.

This type of epilogue is seen in movies more often than it is in books, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be used for large, sweeping stories that may generate varying bonds to the reader. This way every reader finds some satisfaction of a conclusion.

The epilogue in a book is an optional component, but one that may offer essential information.

Not every story needs an epilogue, so do not feel compelled to add one. If you do add one, do it in the right way to make sure your readers come away with a satisfactory experience.

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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