Blogger Template by Blogcrowds.

Recently I was on a blog hop where the topic of "plot change-ups" came up. The point was to take a book that you didn't particularly like and re-vision the plot. Interestingly, the topic of epilogues popped up a lot. As it turns out, many readers took issue not with the main plot but with how the characters' lives progressed in the epilogue. Thinking about this, I too realized that a lot of my mixed feelings about a book have come from the "life revelations" experienced by characters in the epilogue.

I don't know exactly what it is about an epilogue that can sway some readers' feelings in so few pages, but I think it has to do with a case of Too Much Information.

Here's where I think epilogues throw people like me off. Reading involves a full immersion of yourself as a character(s). Even if an author lays out the exact description of every character and scene, readers still find yourself  injecting personal thoughts and ideas into a story. For instance, there may be a MC described as a tall blonde and I may instead envision her as a brunette. This is because that is what I am and I like to inject my traits into the story. Just because something was wrote one way doesn't mean that I see it that way.

Reading is world building. For as much as the author describes everything going on, there is still an individual freedom for the reader to digress from what was written and build their own world. That's what draws a reader in and excites them. Because of this, we become so emotionally invested into a book/character that we feel a part of it. Like what we're thinking is coming to life - because we're interpreting motives and ideas in our own way.

So here you are. A couple hundred of pages into a book. Hours of reading time. Days of character immersion and world building. And you've reached the end. That sad last page of the last chapter with a squiggly symbol after the last paragraph. You take a deep breath and let out a heavy sigh. One filled with the sadness of ending another book, but the happiness of living vicariously through another life much more exciting than yours. But it's okay that the book is finished. Because you have hopes and dreams for these characters. That the lovers stay together forever and explore the world. That the brother comes back from war. That the two people that wrecked each others' lives never cross paths again...

But no...what's this? No...NO! It can't be! There are still three more pages! What is this sorcery?!


And guess what?

The the lovers end up with 2.4 kids, a white picket fence, colonial style home, a Labrador puppy, and office jobs.

But what? NO! That's not what was supposed to happen! They were never supposed to settle and have kids because they were supposed to travel the world together - just like they always wanted! And they would have never given up the Manhattan high-rise with a view of central park for a patch of green! And absolutely NO WAY would they have an office job! They're supposed to be traveling the world dammit! AND WHAT? They killed off his kind, brave, broken-hearted brother?! WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT?!

And just like that your fictitious world has been crushed. The characters that you thought you knew so well just stabbed you in the back. You feel betrayed. Because you know that they would not have chosen this life. They were forced by an evil hand! And now they're living in misery. Your poor beloved characters are slowly dying. The life leaving their eyes. And all you can do is sit back and watch...stunned...with no place to turn to for help...because all of their bright and shiny future doors have been closed.

It's the fault of an evil-doer who goes by the name of 'Epilogue'.


And that is why epilogues are ruining MY characters' lives.


  1. nadiareads1 said...
    You're right! I hate epilogues! Plus it's really sad to see my characters all grown up and 10 years after or something! I prefer picturing them the way I know them from the whole book!
    L. A. Kelley said...
    I'm of two minds about epilogues. I'm not bothered by ones taking place immediately after a story ends to wrap up a few stray plot points. In effect, they act as the last chapter, but being so short the author wrote an epilogue instead. If done well, they can also be effective as a teaser to a second book in a series. I agree the ones that occur years later rarely work, and are annoying, unnecessary add-ons. The story is over. If the characters had further adventures then write another book, if not let them RIP. I don't need to know their lives turned out as mundane as mine. (Hell, I don't want to know. I read for escapism.)
    alibaliwalker said...
    For me, my epilogues set the scene for a sequel. They are a teaser. They should pique your interest. Make you want to read more. The worst epilogue I ever read was at the end of the final Harry Potter book, when they were all grown up and sending their own kids off to Hogwarts...sugary sickly sweet and perfect happy ever after! Spoiled everything for me...and the movie was no better!
    Reviewers from The Book Cove said...
    I agree with the epilogues being useful in some cases. Mostly for setting up the next book. But yes, Harry Potter...UGH! There was no need for it and it left me uncomfortably restless...
    L. A. Kelley said...
    The only bad thing that happens to the Malfoys is that they end up unattractive and bald. Seriously? After murdering all those people, that's the only punishment? Their spawn even end up back at Hogwarts. Yeah, right. In my ending they'd end up in Hogwart's all right--at the bottom of the lake.
    A. Payne N.D. Taylor said...
    Agreed. When we wrote our epilogue we designed it to wrap up the loose ends. I don't need to skip years ahead to the future and I wanted a slight teaser for the next novel.
    Reviewers from The Book Cove said...
    The way they made the aged characters look was hilarious. Talk about 40 going on 80! And yes, the villians always end up ugly and bald. Such punishment!
    Cathryn Cade said...
    Great post and thanks for the hilarious illustrations. I felt your pain ...
    Tammy Palmer said...
    I read 'epilogue' and thought Harry Potter too. It was terrible, and unnecessary, especially in the movie. This is one place where the script should definitely not have followed the book. They were kids with their whole loves ahead of them and lots of romantic possibilities!

Post a Comment

Newer Post Older Post Home

© The Book Cove, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to The Book Cove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Book Cove is a private entity independent of the promotions, events, features, authors, programs and so forth that are featured on The Book Cove website or in newsletters. The Book Cove does not guarantee quality or content of those works and events featured. The Book Cove does not assure legality of the works and events featured.

Creative Commons License
Book Cove Reviews by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.