I've never written an epilogue before. I've never even considered one, actually, until very recently. When the third book idea for my series hit me, I thought an epilogue could be a nice way to wrap things up once the story is over. But I worry that it could also be too over the top. So when should you include an epilogue? Do we ever really need them?
There are several reasons to include an epilogue. It can provide some added closure. We can find out what has happened to the characters several years or just a few weeks after the story's conclusion. It can be an interesting glimpse into the future to see if things have worked out and how the main story has affected the characters as they continue on with their lives.
An epilogue is a tricky thing to figure it out, because if you think about it, no story really needs an epilogue. That's how it should work. Your story should be complete without the epilogue, and adding one on should just be an added bonus for the reader. But the book itself should be able to stand alone without it. So while you definitely don't need one, it could still be fun to include one.
There are a few reasons why I'm thinking about an epilogue for the third book. First of all, it's the last book in the series. I wouldn't include an epilogue in the first two books (although setting up a sequel can be another reason to have an epilogue), but since I don't plan on continuing with these characters, it seems like a nice way to wrap things up.
It also has a lot to do with the plot of the book. While everything is wrapped up and decisions are made by the end of the last chapter, I feel like there are still some questions that may be asked. The story mainly revolves around a love triangle. The readers would probably want to know if the MC stayed with the person he chose. Another huge part of the story is that my characters are sort of making their last shot at being successful with their band, and by the end of the book they've signed a record deal and things are just starting to get going. So that leaves more questions--did it all work out? Are they famous rock stars now? You can certainly provide closure within a story but there could always be questions that your readers may ask about the characters' futures.
My only hesitation with writing an epilogue is that I think it may be too much of a happy ending. It kind of just screams, "Look at how successful everyone is!!!" I worry that it may be too sappy and while just being generally irritating, doesn't fit very well with the mood of the books themselves. Then again, my narrator isn't all that emotional of a person so he may be able to handle all the happiness without shoving it in the reader's face. I'm still on the fence about it. I'll probably write and rewrite it a million times until I think it's right.
While not every story needs an epilogue, it can be a fun way to wrap things up. A story should be able to stand on its own without it, but an epilogue should still provide information that is interesting and believable, and fits the mood of the story.
Have you ever included an epilogue in your book?