Epilogues — Ending in Style

My writers’ group met this morning at Starbucks, a business I enter about once a year.  So if my post seems a little frantic, two Skinny Lattes  are the reason.  No more coffee for at least a couple of months; this caffeine buzz will take me at least that far!

We spent much of our morning discussing different styles of epilogues, and which methods are most appropriate for which kinds of stories.  I have a friend in that bunch who has nearly finished her novel, and she read the epilogue to us.  She writes very well.  I thought that particular piece would fit more interestingly as her prologue.  Thus began our discussion, and I was outnumbered 4 to 1. I knew I could post my questions and instincts about this piece of novel-writing, in an effort to clarify and hone my thinking.

One of our writers made a comment about a prologue being a simple, easy-to-understand starter for the book.  I have yet to read my friend’s current prologue, but I do know that she received accolades from her writing instructor, for those first couple of pages..  But in her epilogue, she describes what her contemporary characters are doing to honor their ancestors.  I felt that, with a little basic cutting, she could start and end with that ceremony.

(I have just learned that the story is not so much about the connections between the past and the present, but by the similarities of events which took place over a span of centuries.  I could still imagine dividing that epilogue and making part of it the prologue.  But as I said, this is not my novel, and I am still not quite ready to start.  I did suggest that she try that strategy in her second novel — I’m waiting to hear back on that.)

I thoroughly enjoy hearing chapters from this writer’s manuscript, but probably an editor would tell me I’m wrong about this one subject.  I am curious about your feelings on the subject.  Please feel free to offer a disagreement with my reasoning.  This question requires a lot of ideas, melded together, for an answer.  I welcome yours.

My dear friend P., I hope you read this and see that I have offered the olive branch.  Best of luck finishing up the novel. and I hope your whole moving experience is easy and as peaceful as it can be.

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