Epilogues can be just as tricky as prologues can be. Why? Because you may not always need one.
Epilogues are used as an afterthought. They’re used to show the readers what happened to the characters after the big showdown and everything is resolved.
So, do you need one?
Do you have something new to say?
If there isn’t anything left to the story, but there’s some room for a little aftermath, you can get away with an epilogue. Sometimes it’s nice to show off what happens to the characters after the main event of the story. Of course, it can also work so that readers infer what happens after themselves, but if it’s important and you feel it’s a canon thing that needs to be said, go for it.
For example, show the “happily ever after” of your characters or explain what happened to the world.
Set up the sequel.
If your novel has the potential to have books come after it and you plan on doing more, feel free to set up a cliff-hanger or set up a small plot point so that your readers can tell that a sequel will be coming.
Should there be a twist?
Yes and no. If there is going to be a sequel, you can get away with throwing in a small twist to get your characters thinking.
However, you need to stay true to everything that happened in the novel before. Don’t change any characters or major events that happened. That will only frustrate your readers.
Do you need an epilogue if you have a prologue?
No. While they sound like they go hand in hand, they do serve different purposes as similar as they are. Still, whatever you needed to tell in the prologue has nothing to do with the epilogue because time has passed and your characters have grown and changed. The before should be vastly different from the after so you’ll have to decide whether you need an epilogue or not no matter if you have a prologue or not.
I do think epilogues are great. I always enjoy reading the aftermath of the characters and events that took place. Still, they only work if there is something new to say or add to the feelings the readers already felt.
Then again, some things are best left unsaid.
Do you typically add epilogues to your stories? Do you like them or not? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!