How I screwed up by not having an epilogue

I've been reading a few books where I have been a tad annoyed at epilogues which are often a bit of a waste of space - a nice way to fit an extra thousand words into a novel and nothing more, really. So when I was editing Falling for Jack, I decided I wouldn't do an epilogue. I hadn't done one for the previous book and as a reader I'd gone off them as being quite unnecessary so I figured I wouldn't inflict that torture on anyone who was doing me a favour by forking out their money for the book. Well. Big mistake. Big, big mistake. Once the reviews starting coming in for Falling for Jack, there was one thing that really made me sit up and start thinking. A lot of people (not just one or two) were commenting that the book felt unfinished. That they wanted to know what happened after. It's not giving anything away to say that the couple in the story, Jack and Robyn, do get together! But I had made the mistake of having a plot line that did leave some things open enough that at the end of the book you were left thinking "But..." What happens? How does it go? Does Robyn's business get off the ground? An interesting faux pax on my part since I don't like books or movies that are left up in the air or leave it open to your own interpretation. You want to know that it's all going to be okay. I think of the movie Lost in Translation where at the end there is massive depth of feeling between Charlotte and Bob (who are both married, yikes) and while they don't necessarily get together (it would never have worked!) it does have closure to it and its happy closure. I think they accept their time together for what it was, they will probably still love each other til they die, and will go on with their lives, but it isn't unhappy or left in the air. You don't know what he whispers to her at the end, but they both got this one last moment. Especially since it was looking like they weren't going to. Sigh. (Which may lead to another blog post some time on the reverse sex difference - 55 year old woman and 25 year old man. Do we like that? Hmmmm...) So with the Jack and Robyn story, there were a couple of elements that did need a decent ending. You wanted to know how Robyn's gig at the trade show went, since her fledgling fashion biz was a pretty important factor in her life. And there were a couple of secondary characters, Sage and Ethan, who kind of got together - but did it last? I could have had one of those scenes a year later where Robyn is glowingly pregnant and Jack is absolutely besotted over her and his unborn baby (or maybe not cos, I mean, you know they are going to get married and have lots of kids). But something to tie everything up nicely there. So, I certainly got a nice smack over the hand on that one and have begun to see epilogues in a different light and in fact have added one in Blue Creek Bachelor as a result. I'm wary of prologues and flashbacks, too, cos as writers we kind of want to put everything in there cos they're the fun bits to write but they can be just wasted words or end up hitting the reader over the head too much. But there has to be some discernment on them and with Jack and Robyn, my discerning was a little whack.
But just in case you have read the book, and if you haven't, there are no real spoilers here, this is what happens.... Robyn's designs are a hit at the trade show and the business takes off without Jack-the-millionaire's help, but then she is with child, so Sage takes over more of the business, along with Harriet, so Robyn can be more of a hands-on mum and just focus on designing. And yes, Sage and Ethan stay together, not without plenty of rocky moments (maybe I should write their story). As to whether they have children... that, I don't even want to think about!

Comments

I like epilogues. And prologues too. I have nothing against them, unless they're too long.
Joanne Hill said…
Kind of like exclamation marks.... nice in moderation....!!

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