Sunday, October 2, 2016

Is it really over?

How do you know when
 “The End” is really “The End”? 
 Probably most authors would say, “When the story’s finished!” 
Well, maybe, and again, maybe not.
Personally, I have a hard time with a strong finish. Oh, it’s happily ever after and all that. Readers like HEAs better than having their favorite characters killed off. But real life--and I do try to write real characters living real lives--don’t necessarily live HEA. Life happens.
So, I’m addicted to epilogues. I write them. Or, if there’s no epilogue in the book I’m reading, I create one if I’ve bonded with the characters.
The obsession with dotting the last ‘I’ and crossing the final ‘t’ crept into my soul when I was fourteen and went to see the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific…and promptly fell in love with the dreamy French planter Emile DeBecque and perky Nurse Nellie Forbush. The camera pulls back on the two holding hands under the table on the veranda (after Emile has miraculously returned from a dangerous mission for the U.S. Navy) while his children eat their soup. Oh, be still, my beating heart! There had to be more than the music swell and the segue to the sparkling blue water of the South Pacific! I spent many years composing the events of Emile’s and Nellie’s lives together. Alas, it’s all in the trash now, but it was quite satisfying for my adolescent romantic fantasies.
I’ve read (and ignored) advice by successful authors about not writing an epilogue. In the final book of the Penelope Pembroke Cozy Mystery Series, Sam’s Last Stand, I added a full-blown chapter which detailed the future lives of all the main and supporting characters.
Later, in the final book of the Dreamland Series, Ghostly Gambit in Dreamland, I did the same.

And the obsession with dotting that last ‘i’ and final ‘t’ lives on in the not-yet-scheduled-for-release Ruthann’s War (The Wild Rose Press). I wrote an optional epilogue, which the editor decided to keep.
Here are five articles dealing with novel endings. Cruise through them for that “Aha” moment as you pen your own novel!

But don't let this be "The End" for you, 
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