Is your epilogue necessary?

Everything that’s true for prologues goes for epilogues as well.

Epilogue, if used, is necessary and engaging.

It’s not enough that your epilogue be sweet and show how your characters live happily ever after. It has to wrap up the story in a way that, if it were omitted, the reader would feel some loose end was left hanging.

Generally speaking, most of your loose ends will be tied up either right before the climax or during it. Whatever’s left is tied up during the denouement. The only good reason for using an epilogue is if there’s a big gap in time between the denouement and the last story question that needs closure. Then it might be appropriate to have an epilogue to close up that one last matter. Continue reading

Don’t rush the ending of your novel

I’ve spent a lot longer on this matter of the satisfying ending than any other point on the Elements of Fiction Editing Checklist. That’s because it’s so critical. A bad ending can ruin an otherwise great book. But I’m nearly done with endings, and next time we’ll move on to Structure.

Don’t rush the ending

The pacing of a novel should increase as we approach the ending. Within reason.

But there’s a fine balance between speeding up the pace and rushing through to the end. Continue reading

Understand the difference between a twist and a trick

Your novel’s ending must be inevitable, but preferably not predictable. Yeah, that’s easier said than done.

This is hard to plan for as you’re writing. Editing is the place to make it happen. Because once you’ve written the ending, it’s much easier to go back and layer in the plants that need to be present to make the payoff believable. That’s what makes a twist ending satisfying.

Too many writers aim for a twist and wind up playing tricks on their readers instead. Continue reading