(Or Why I Just Can’t Help Myself)
Back in fall, I attended a writing retreat with some incredible presenters, and during one of the classes on GMC (goal, motivation, and conflict) I realized that I wasn’t making my characters’ lives nearly hard enough. Adding a larger external threat to my current work in progress is relatively easy, and I can say from looking at the updated outline and the subsequent completed project that the book is far better for this much darker black moment.
I almost feel bad.
But I know in the end that my characters will have their time, have their happily ever after, and so piling one terrible thing on top of another, taking away their choices and their options, pulling them as far apart from each other as the rubber band will allow, is simply a way to get them to appreciate that happy ending more.
There are several reasons I love writing epilogues. Here are just a few.
I Can Torture My Characters More
When I know that life is going to be as easy and wonderful and hopeful as possible, it means I can push things further and make the climatic elements of the book larger and more intense. We all know how romance novels end and it’s my job to make my readers believe that happy ending won’t happen, which comes from darkening the dark moments. It’s easy to go low low when I know that a high high is coming around the bend.
I Get to Hang Out With My Characters
For me, epilogues are a little like the best filler episodes on dramatic television shows. I know how these characters act under pressure, I know their desires and their hindrances. But now that everyone is doing alright, we’ve caught the bad guy, admitted our love, survived the hurricane, we can just hang out and have fun–secondary characters included!
It’s a Nice Cool Down
Do you ever read a book without an epilogue and it just sort of…ends in the scene? Like, yay, love you too, end. That’s like finishing a five-mile run by just sitting down on the track. I want to take my cool-down lap, get my breathing back to normal and enjoy this workout now that it’s over.
I Trust They Stay Happy
I know it’s the cardinal rule of romance that everything has to end happy. That’s the entire point. But we’ve already seen these characters go through so much, especially when we really thought they weren’t going to make it as a couple. I want to have the pretty pink bow on top saying ‘yes, they survived the main plot, but also here’s proof they’re in it for the long haul’. Is that always a home and baby? Definitely not. But I want to see how happy they continue to be after the story is over.
I Like to Read Them
Epilogues are my dessert. The book is meat and potatoes–and lots of veggies. We’ve watched out favorite characters suffer and struggler for several hundred pages. Now I just want to sit back with my tub of ice cream and enjoy a little sticky-sweet love without anything going wrong.
Do you like epilogues in your stories? Here are just a few reasons I write them into all of mine, but share your thoughts about epilogues below!