Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Dreaded "E" Word

I hope that got you speculating about what the dreaded "E" word could be? Erotic? No. Since I’m finishing up my WIP (an acronym that sounds like ‘whip’ and often feels like one), my dreaded "E" word for the day is "Epilogue".

For the readers out there, what do you think of the epilogue? Are they evidence that the author didn’t know when to shut up? A sign the author couldn’t think of the perfect ending so she threw two slightly inferior versions at you in the hope that volume would win the day? Do you groan when you see them, or do you relish that chance to jump into the future and take a look at what’s happened, how things have worked out, and get a taste of the "after" in happily ever after?

As I writer, I’m addicted to the epilogue. And since my hero and heroine have been, well, ****ing like bunnies for 300 and some pages up to this point, there’s usually a baby in my epilogue. But I wondered—why do I enjoy writing the epilogue and visiting my characters as their family begins to grow? Since the conflicts of the story have been resolved, what is driving me to show how the relationship has worked out?

I think I love epilogues because I have the chance to show the friendship that has evolved between my characters, and to show that the passion hasn’t faded. Epilogues make me smile because they prove to me that I wasn’t wrong to feel hope at the end of the story.

And while I don’t usually have a love scene in the epilogue, I do like to make it clear that my hero (or heroes) and heroine are having frequent delicious sex. And since time has passed and they have gotten to know each other better, the sex has just gotten better.

One of my favorite epilogues is Julia Quinn’s in On the Way to the Wedding. Her chronicle of a man’s and a woman’s reactions to childbirth—multiplied eight times (resulting in nine children) is heart-warming and hilarious.

So the question here is—do you like or hate epilogues? Do you write them, read them, or skip them? And if you are an ‘epilogue addict’, how far into the future do you like to see?
Also congratulations to all the Crumpet Strumpets who have been wrapping up manuscripts in the last while. There’s nothing more thrilling than writing "The End". Well, possibly a few things, but it’s still a wonderful, exhausting, and exhilarating achievement.

P.S. my picture today doesn't have anything to do with epilogues, though there is an epilogue in that story. But he's my cover and I love him. :-)


Kalen Hughes said...

I love them as a reader and a writer. The best ones let you see some little unresolved, loose-end get tied up. But even the ones that are just a view into the "land of happy babies" are usually pretty good. I'm even ok with the ones that set up a little something for the next book (although then I'm irked that I have to wait!).

stephanieb said...

I love them!! I'm always a fan of adding more to a book!!LOL!!..I never want them to even that little insight into what the characters are doing now works for me!!

Maggie Robinson said...

I love epilogues, and prologues, too. I don't care if people grumble about them.

Celia May Hart said...

I must be the odd one out, because I can't stand "land of happy babies" epilogues. I don't need reassurance that they'll stay in the land of happy ever after.

I think part of the reason why is that what we basically write is romantic fantasies (not to say such bliss isn't achievable for you or I, but the likelihood of our spouse being the ideal of their sex is pretty unlikely) ...

... and babies just don't fit into the fantasy for me. The fantasy is the hunt and capture, the joining of the souls, all the rest is just ... well perhaps interesting for the characters, but me, not so much.

Am I weird?

Pam Rosenthal said...

I like them for the same reason you do, Sharon. But the one of mine that I really like is the one in The Bookseller's Daughter -- great sex and happy babies but also a sort of compromise relationship between Joseph and Marie-Laure. She can't really understand why he finds diplomacy (grown men acting like babies, she says) so fascination, and he discretely yawns behind one of his long, beautiful hands when she starts talking about her bookselling business, and bindings and typefaces, and the things 18th century booksellers probably talk about. I think this was remarkably grownup of me, and I hope I can remember to go to that grownup self again for inspiration sometime.

Anonymous said...

I agree with stephanieb -- I love epilogues and the sneak peek into the future!!

Kathryn S said...

Epilogues are great -- provided they wrap up the story. I only use them if I think there needs to be closure on some issue that I couldn't work into the book. However, as a reader I love that little glimpse of the future, and knowing that everything is okay.