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?