I ran across this article a while back: 6 Clever Ways to Achieve the Perfect Ending to Your Story by Dean Elphick. I’ll list the ways he suggests, but follow the link for the whole picture.
I guess an epilogue could fit with #1 (resolved), and I’ll admit it--I like all my i’s dotted and my t’s crossed and all the pieces of the puzzle in place. So, I often write an epilogue if the final chapter doesn’t tie up all the details.
A resolved ending is an integral part of a mystery or crime drama. We need to know who-dun-it. We want to see justice done. We want to assure ourselves that the ghost in the attic either isn’t there after all or has been pacified in some way. Knowing what happens makes us feel safer.
But frankly, happily-ever-after doesn’t satisfy me. It’s an assumption, and real life is never that simple. People do live happy lives, but part of that happiness stems from overcoming/surviving the negatives they encounter along the way. For example, death isn’t something we consider as part of happily-ever-after, but it is most certainly a part of life.
Unresolved endings don’t cut it for me either. Case in point: Margaret Mitchell left Scarlet and Rhett in limbo at the end of Gone with the Wind, and at least two other people have written sequels to satisfy the itch to know what became of those two wastrels. I didn’t really care, but some folks did.
An implied ending often leaves one in limbo. In a series, we can live with it and go on to the next book. But we fully expect things to resolve themselves by the last page of the last book. I wound things up well in the Penelope Pembroke Cozy Mystery Series, but I also added an epilogue at the end of book 6. Ditto the Dreamland Series. While it was only 3 books, I assumed readers would have become invested in Trixie and Mitch and the other inhabitants of Dreamland, Arkansas, and want to know what happened to them.
We’ve all read books which ended in a twist. Sometimes it catches our imagination; other times it’s downright frustrating! A book with a tie-back is always satisfying, because by the end we understand the whys and wherefores of the characters.
But at the end of the day, the epilogue is indeed the crystal ball, the seeing into the future sort of ending. Often, “inquiring minds want to know”. I certainly do.
But whatever you prefer to read or write, take time to follow the link to the full article, 6 Clever Ways to Achieve the Perfect Ending to Your Story.
To learn more about Penelope and Dreamland, follow the links or visit my website. And, I need reviews for Dreamland, so if you’d like to give book 1 (Lethal Legacy in Dreamland) a try, I’ll send it to you via Amazon! Now isn’t that an offer you can’t resist?