How To Determine If Your Novel Needs An Epilogue [NaNoWriMo 2017]

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?

Epilogues in novels

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!

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How To Write A Perfect Ending For Your Novel [NaNoWriMo]

Sometimes you know how you want to end your novel and you think to yourself, “How do I get from A to B?” But even if you have an ending in mind, it may not always work out that way.

Your characters have something else in mind. Your outline may change. You may decide to go a completely different direction as you write.

So, how exactly do you write your ending? Well, that’s something you have to decide as you get to it.

Ending a novel

Tie up all loose ends.

This is a must no matter what kind of ending you have. Whether you have a sequel coming up or you’re finishing a standalone book, you must answer all questions that book posed. Sometimes you can get away with leaving a few unanswered questions if it’s part of a more elaborate plot for a series, but you don’t want to leave your readers hanging.

Throw in a twist or cliffhanger.

Going along with the previous point, if you’re writing a series, a trilogy, or whatever, feel free to leave a subtle cliffhanger or throw in a twist at the end. You don’t have to reveal something huge, you can always save that for the next book and throw your readers right back into the action. But something small that will leave your readers feeling satisfied, yet eager to start the next book right away, should suffice.

Go back to the beginning.

I always find it cool when the author brings the story full circle. Something happens at the beginning, they go on a long, treacherous journey, and then they end up right where they started. Yet, they’ve changed. They’ve grown. They’re better (or worse) people than they were before.

 

The end… Or is it?

You can take this one of two ways – you can throw in a twist like what I mentioned above or you can leave an open ending. Be sure to answer all questions and cash in all those plot points, but you can leave your readers feeling satisfied yet imagining what would happen next. They can infer where the characters will go from there. That way the story will last for a long time.

It all depends on your plot and genre.

There are way more ways to end your novel, but it all depends on you, your story, and the genre. Still, some ways to end your novel that seem “wrong” can be “right” and some ways that are supposedly “right” can be “wrong.” It’s really up to your readers to decide.

But you can’t please everyone.

How do you typically wrap up your novels? Are they any other ways you can think of? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

How To Start That First Chapter The Right Way [NaNoWriMo]

What’s the hardest part about writing a novel? It’s different depending on who you are, how you write, and what you write.

Still, you may have all the ideas and you may even have a quick outline, but beginning a novel can be tricky. It is, after all, one of the most important parts of your novel.

There are plenty of readers out there who not only read the book’s blurb on the back, but they already read the first paragraph or so of the first chapter.

Why? Because they want to get a feel for the writing style. They want to see if they’ll be hooked into the story right away.

If they are, they’ll buy it. If they’re not… well, maybe the next reader who is enticed by the blurb will be into it.

How To Start The First Chapter

There are so many different ways to start a novel. There’s no certain way that will work for every novel. That would, of course, end up being boring and unoriginal.

Though while many books may start with a piece of dialogue or some ominous message, each one is different and unique because every book and idea is unique.

With that said, here are some ways you can start your first chapter.

Introduce A Voice

Begin with a piece of dialogue. I know there are some people out there who don’t agree with starting with dialogue, but I personally like it. It introduces a character (whether it’s clear who it is right away or not) and it also gives you a sense of what kind of character you’ll be following around.

You don’t even have to start with dialogue. If you’re writing in first-person, start with a thought from the main character. Or no matter what the point of view, start with some sort of point the character is noticing or thinking.

Get Right Into The Action

Throw your readers and your characters into the heart of the matter. Or, the heart of matter that may lead into the main plot. The action is always enticing, especially when it starts the book off. The readers don’t know what’s going on, but if done right, they’ll want to know. They’ll keep reading and reading and reading.

Start Slow, But Not Too Slow

Feel free to ease your readers into the story. You can start with a typical day in the life of your main character or have them do something they would normally do that ends up affecting the plot somehow.

Just be wary of opening with your character waking up. That one gets old pretty quickly.

Throw In A Little Background

You want to keep your readers guessing, yet you want to give them something to work with. I’m not telling you to info-dump because no one wants that. However, giving a little insight to your characters and the world around them isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The Prologue

We talked about this yesterday. Use at your own risk.

What are some ways you typically begin your novels? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!