By now, on day thirty of the challenge, you should have finished the first draft of your book. You might be deciding now whether or not to add an epilogue to your non-fiction book or fiction novel.
An epilogue, or afterword, is a short piece of writing at the end of the book. It serves as a commentary on what was written before or it serves as a conclusion, where all the loose ends are tied up. Not every book has an epilogue, and not every book that does have an epilogue points out to the reader that it is an epilogue.
Epilogues, in non-fiction, are always closely related to the theme of the book, but may be either a way of summarizing the book or as an after-thought to the lessons or information in the book.
Epilogues, in fiction, can serve as way to give the reader a look at the main characters after the main story is finished, and sometimes a great deal of time has passed between the main story and the epilogue. And it can also be a way to look at what happens within the wider scope of the world the characters live in after the events in the main story have transpired.
A relatively new technique authors have started using in fiction is to write an epilogue in order to give the readers a reason to but the next book in the series. In this instance, the book is complete and the protagonist has achieved his or her happily ever after, but there is an epilogue which shows something else happens or is about to happen which will put the protagonist or the protagonist's happily-ever-after in peril again, thus creating a cliffhanger. Instead of having the cliffhanger as part of the overall story, which can alienate some readers, the story is completed with a positive resolution, and only by reading the epilogue does the reader find out that this is not the true end of the story, but, rather, the beginning of another story for the protagonist.
In most stories, an epilogue is unnecessary, so before you write one, make sure your story actually needs the epilogue.
Consider these points when deciding on whether or not add an epilogue to your story:
- Does your story need an epilogue?
- Does the epilogue add to the story in any valuable way?
- Does the epilogue make sense as it pertains to the larger story?
- What information do you want to impart through the use of your epilogue?
If you have made it this far, let me congratulate you on writing the first draft of your book! It takes a lot of effort and dedication to spend the time crafting a well-written book.