A collection of musings, articles and news about romance fiction.

To Epilogue or Not To Epilogue – THAT is the question!

A few Romance Writers’ of Australia conferences back, I had the great pleasure of hearing the fabulous Jenny Crusie speak. I’m a huge JC fan and buy a new book of hers the minute they come out, but one thing that really struck me when she spoke was her complete and utter disrespect (LOL) for epilogues.

She hates them. Doesn’t think they are necessary in romance novels if you’ve done a good job during the actual story of convincing the readers that the hero and heroine are meant to be together.

But I have a confession to make… I LOVE THEM!

I was one of the sad romantic fans who loved that J.K.Rowling wrote an epilogue in the final Harry Potter book. I loved that she rounded off the happy ending, especially because it was the romance thread of the series.

In ONE PERFECT NIGHT (Carina Press), I wrote an epilogue. It shows the hero and heroine one year (exactly) into their relationship – how things have changed and how their love has been consolidated. A friend of mine recently read the book and she said she was SO glad that I’d written an epilogue because she’s sick of reading romances that end abruptly at the resolution.

In my upcoming June release JILTED (Mira, Australia), there isn’t an epilogue. I wrote one but after a CP said it wasn’t necessary, I cut it. In this book, I think she was right.

In the novel I’ve just subbed to Carina Press (working title: HOLLYWOOD HEARTBREAK), there isn’t an epilogue either, but I’m wondering if maybe there should be.

So I guess what I’m saying is I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules when it comes to writing and reading epilogues. Like many things in life, it really comes down to the individual (in this case book). Some books work well with epilogues and some don’t.

I’d like to leave you with an extract from the epilogue of ONE PERFECT NIGHT. Also, I’d love to hear in the comments section about your thoughts on epilogues. Do you love them, hate them or have never really given it any thought? Is there any epilogue you’ve read lately that really stood out in its brilliance?

Thanks so much for having me Shannon and also your readers for reading my rambles

EXTRACT ONE PERFECT NIGHT

“Don’t look now but that damn-sexy husband of yours just walked in with your cute-as-pie daughter.” Peppa laughed at Izzy and took the glass of champagne she held out toward her. She indulged in one sip but, as she was still nursing Angelina, she exchanged the rest for a glass of orange juice. “I’ll let you in on a little secret,” she said, leaning closer to Izzy as she surveyed the crowd around them enjoying the annual office Christmas party. Izzy raised her eyebrows in excited anticipation. “He’s damn fine at changing nappies too.” “Ooh.” Izzy pressed the back of her hand against her brow, pretending to swoon. “I just love a man who doesn’t shy away from domestic duties. Perhaps if I found someone with such talents, even I could contemplate the whole white-picket-fence deal.” Peppa was about to proclaim her approval at Izzy’s words—if her happiness levels this past year were anything to go by, she strongly believed everyone should be blissfully married—but Cameron returned with their little miracle and she lost her train of thought.

Book Blurb of ONE PERFECT NIGHT:

Peppa Grant’s fellow employees may call their new CEO Mr. McSexy, but she’s also heard that he’s aloof and distant. Cameron McCormac certainly seems cold toward Christmas when she meets him at the company’s annual party…but he’s also the sexiest man Peppa has ever seen. And when he offers to forgive the damage she accidentally caused to his expensive car in exchange for accompanying him to his family’s holiday get-together, she agrees.

Cameron needs a date to the family party to get his matchmaking relatives off his back. Their chemistry is instant and undeniable, leading to an incredible one-night stand. But Peppa wants love and family, while Cameron’s only interested in temporary pleasure. When their relationship takes an unexpectedly serious turn, will he run the other way—or will he give love a second chance?

Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rachael-Johns/260103224001776

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/#!/RachaelJohns @RachaelJohns

Blog:  http://www.rachaeljohns.blogspot.com/

Website: www.rachaeljohns.com

To buy links: Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005Z1CF2A/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_alp_sCZRob15EH9MT

and Carina Press – http://ebooks.carinapress.com/262D0727-23A2-4E9D-B75E-249FF29C76DF/10/134/en/ContentDetails.htm?ID=5BB8BC4C-4898-4073-8306-FECF92B5DC5B

Rachel Johns’ book, One Perfect Night, has just been made a Finalist in the Favourite Contemporary Romance for 2011 in the Australian Romance Readers Awards.

Congratulations, Rachel, and good luck!

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16 responses

  1. I like epilogues in certain books, when there’s something else the Reader really would like to know about, but it doesn’t directly follow the action. I loved the epilog in One Perfect Night! I use them from time to time in my various WIP…

    January 17, 2012 at 7:36 am

  2. Epilogues are interesting creatures. I wrote one for the first 47 Echo book, but completely rewrote it before publication. For the sequel, I wrote one, then ended up cutting it completely. You can kind of feel when an Epilogue works with a story, I think. Blanket statements like “you should never have them” are a bit dangerous. I think they work best in genre stories, though.

    January 17, 2012 at 8:03 am

    • Shawn – I so think you are right. You can FEEL when an epilogue works and when it’s unnecessary and I agree with your re blanket statements!

      January 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm

  3. I’ve written quite a few epilogues. I blame Stephen King. I love how he kicks you with a shocking twist just when you think everything is fantastic and happy. Of course, in romance, epilogues mean just that little extra kick of warm-fuzziness for the hero and heroine’s HEA…and maybe one last kiss and cuddle for the reader to experience with them 🙂

    However, if the epilogue doesn’t contribute anything to the plot or character development, even at such a late stage in the book, maybe it should have stayed in the author’s head. Unless it sets up for a sequel.

    Argh, the more I think about epilogues the more confused I get! 🙂

    January 17, 2012 at 10:38 am

  4. I dislike epilogues so much, I even put it in my author bio! Actually, in truth, I don’t draw a hard-and-fast line. The Harry Potter one worked, I thought. But sometimes they’re just nauseating codas of perfect schmoopy happiness with seven babies and let-me-tell-you-all-their-names, and they make me gag. I guess I enjoy a little strife with my romance! Give me an epilogue where the hero and heroine are having a half-serious argument and still seem solid and in love, and I’ll reconsider. 🙂

    January 17, 2012 at 11:09 am

    • Ooh is it in your author bio? Have I read that!? I’m glad you liked the Harry Potter one though because lots of people didn’t. And I LOVE your idea of an epilogue where the hero and heroine are having an argument. GOLD! 🙂

      January 17, 2012 at 12:02 pm

  5. Interesting post 🙂 I like epilogues especially where I’ve really enjoyed the book and want to keep reading.

    I think epilogues work best with category romances especially where they answer something in the book that can’t be addressed when the hero and heroine have their HEA. For example, the heroine can’t have children. A short epilogue at the end of the book a year or so later with what happens is really nice.

    So unlike Jennifer Cruise (who I admire very much) – I say, bring ’em on 😀

    January 17, 2012 at 11:55 am

    • Joanne – I think you hit the nail on the mark. I love an epilogue when I didn’t want the book to end. It’s like a little treat at the end 🙂

      January 17, 2012 at 12:02 pm

  6. There are never any hard and fast rules in this biz. Sometimes an epilogue works, sometimes it doesn’t. It all depends on the book.

    But with books containing characters I don’t want to let go of, I’ll happily admit to loving them. It’s kinda like a teary but satisfying kiss goodbye. Ahhhhh.

    Yeah, yeah, so I’m a big sap. I’m a romance writer. It’s allowed!

    January 18, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    • LOL – but you are not so sappy that you can’t see the bigger picture! YOU were the one that made me get rid of the epilogue in Jilted 🙂

      January 18, 2012 at 11:15 pm

  7. Natalie Moress

    Great blog. I finished my first category romance in December, and have been tossing up about an epilogue. Joanne’s comment was spot on. I want one to resolve something that isn’t resolved in the HEA moment, but is still important to the couple’s future. So I will write one. Thanks!

    January 18, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    • Natalie – HUGE congrats on finishing your first book. And I’m glad this blog and the comments helped you decide what to do about an epilogue 🙂

      January 18, 2012 at 11:16 pm

  8. Hi Rach! I think epilogues, like their evil twin prologues, can add extra depth to a story if it’s needed. It’s that final closure, that last sigh of ‘Oh, they do get their happy ending after all.” My second book has a epilogue, simply because it felt ‘right’ for them to zoom a few months into the future. And I’m with you about Harry Potter – I loved that we saw them 19 yrs later, all grown up and happy. If it’s right, it will work – if not, your editor, agent or a good cp will tell you so. Great post.

    January 18, 2012 at 9:48 pm

  9. How true Helen – when it fits it fits!! Am SOOOOOOOOO happy you liked the HP epilogue too 🙂 I knew you were my type of person!!!

    January 18, 2012 at 11:17 pm

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