So you’ve read a few interesting epilogues and they’ve sparked your interest? You saw the 19 years later bit from Harry Potter and thought ‘wow that’s awesome’? But you’re at a loss for what to write or even how to write it? Well you’re in luck, dear writer, as with this quick guide you’ll be on your way to crafting epilogue after epilogue, possibly even better than the one from The Hunger Games (yeah seriously).
Step 1. Frantically Look Up How To Write An Epilogue
A good place to start thinking, if writing an epilogue is troubling you, would be with the actual classification of an epilogue itself. Lucky for you, aspiring writer, epilogues are relatively unbound by rules, much unlike many other devices commonly found and used throughout literature. Where devices such as metaphor, pathetic fallacy, and foreshadowing all follow rules or adopted guidelines, the construction of an epilogue typically lies at the discretion of the writer so, good news! First and foremost, this should be remembered above all else. You can look at examples from other works and respond in kind if you’re still struggling after this guide.
Step 2. Look Up What An Epilogue Is
While there are no particular guidelines regarding epilogues, it’s probably still worth your time to familiarize yourself with a few common practices, should you need some comfort when you try yourself. Greek theatre (and theatre today) favours epilogue usage as a ‘means to an end’, quite literally allowing the characters to break the fourth wall, address the audience, and tie up loose in. This practice does change with the varying styles of play, tragedy and comedy being two prominent examples. An epilogue in a greek tragedy would typically allow another character to allude to the fate of a protagonist whereas in a comedic performance it may be used to create a sense of ‘happy ever after’.
Step 3. Figure Out What an Epilogue Isn’t
Two things to remember that should ease your mind.
1) A prologue does not require an epilogue and vice versa. Your work, your choice.
2) An epilogue is not an afterword. While there is some speculation as to the difference between the two, a commonly accepted idea is that an epilogue will form part of your story and provide additional character or plot information. An afterword is quite literally what is says it is: A note from the author or guest, typically on the piece itself, the plot, motives or intentions. The two can be used together.
Step 4. Decide If You Really Need One
As with any literary device, it’s important to use it for a functional purpose, not just because it sounds complicated and you think it will make your work look cool. Epilogues are prominent particularly throughout works of horror and suspense. Horror authors tend to favour an epilogue more than others as it allows them to firstly conclude their work within the main text, thus alluding to the notion of safety, while subsequently being able to include a slight twist or mention an impending threat in the sequel novel. This is one of the more creative approaches as it not only drives the storyline beyond the main text, but also encourages readers to read on even after the book has ended.
So that’s it, how to write an Epilogue four steps:
1. Frantically Look Up How To Write An Epilogue
2. Look Up What An Epilogue Is
3. Figure Out What an Epilogue Isn’t
4. Decide If You Really Need One
Always keep in mind that although rules apply throughout the fantastical world of literature, you can and should always feel at ease with whatever you’re doing, it’s your work after all!