Do You Epilogue?

Romance readers, do you like epilogues? Writers, do you like to write them? How do you choose when to write an epilogue?

I have never written an epilogue, however, I just drafted one for the upcoming reissue of BORROWING ALEX, and I think it will wrap up the story nicely. I also added a new scene to the last chapter. I’m not padding for word count. With digital publishing, there’s no reason to (not that I would regardless). The lovely thing about ebooks is that an author can write her story the length it needs to be, or wants to be, I guess. This is especially freeing if you’re, as I am, updating and editing/revising a book that was originally targeted to the category romance market.

While BORROWING ALEX was originally written for a long-defunct Harlequin romantic comedy line, the line shut down just as I was finishing the book. Another category romance romantic comedy line sprung up in its place, but the new line wanted less zany and quirky and more “heartwarming,” as the editor who rejected my manuscript explained. BORROWING ALEX simply did not fit what this major publisher was looking for anymore.

By this time, I had discovered my former ebook and print-on-demand trade paperback publisher, Amber Quill Press. The second edition of HEAD OVER HEELS (which was initially published by a publisher who wasn’t fond of paying authors due royalties), as well as the first edition of BORROWING ALEX, were published by AQP and I had a great editing experience there. However, I (as well as many other ebook authors) was a bit ahead of my time. Kindles and Nooks and iPads didn’t exist and the mass market paperback was still king. That’s my way of saying that the first edition of BORROWING ALEX “enjoyed” a very small audience. I’m looking forward to reaching a larger audience by self-publishing digital and trade paperback editions through my own Blue Orchard Books.

Ebooks have changed the ways readers read, and, to some extent, they have changed how writers write. We are more in tune with readers than ever before. We no longer have to rely on publishing houses to forward letters and emails. Readers can get in touch with us directly. That’s not to say that whatever a reader says goes. Authors are still the creators of our books. However, as the market changes and readers who might not have read a lot of category romance back when that was the only game in town (for a book of about 50,000 words) discover new-to-them authors, I find it interesting to hear what they have to say, in the form of reviews and social media. Often I’ll follow a link from Twitter or Facebook to a reader’s blog and a light bulb will go on.

Recently, I read the term “Insta-Love” on a blog to describe how rapidly romance heroes and heroines fall in love. Readers who might have never read print category romances at all find Insta-Love a little unbelievable. Neither do they necessarily believe that a book needs every single thread tied up neatly in the last scene. However, for those of us schooled in category romance by the biggest category publisher around, well, wrapping up threads was a very strong guideline. And stopping the story as soon as possible after the hero and heroine committed to each other was another. As was getting in a marriage proposal before the book ended. After all, romances are supposed to end on a positive note, and, in category romance, the marriage proposal is the ideal.

That began to change as the readership evolved even within category romance. However, as I said, I initially wrote and published BORROWING ALEX while these tropes were strongly encouraged. Now, going over the book for reissue, even though no one complained (to me, anyway, or in the form of reviews) that my characters were guilty of getting engaged too quickly, I can see that, all right, maybe, in some books, they can slow things down a bit.

And that’s what I’m doing with BORROWING ALEX. The story takes place in the span of five days, and, yes, the H/h do experience Insta-Love. But does that mean they need to experience Insta-Engagement?

I’m not saying where the engagement now occurs in BORROWING ALEX, although some of you might guess (and, no, I couldn’t bring myself to eliminate the engagement entirely and make Alex a Mr. Right Now, because that’s just not who he is). But once the light bulb blinked, “Hey, Cindy, you are allowed to write additional scenes if they forward the story,” and, “Hey, Dimbulb, guess what? An ebook can be longer than 45,000 words computer count and the editor won’t strangle you,” well, it’s opened up a whole new world for me as a writer. To continue to learn and grow and develop as a writer… That’s a good thing and something each of us should continually strive for.

P.S. If you want to “read” the original edition of BORROWING ALEX, it is and will continue to be available as an audio book.

P.P.S. If you want to be among the first to know when the second edition of BORROWING ALEX releases from Blue Orchard Books, sign up for my Newsletter.

6 Responses to “Do You Epilogue?”

  1. Roxann Delaney Says:

    I couldn’t resist. ;)
    Do I like to write epilogues? Sometimes. It depends on the story. Is the HEA–engagement or commitment–always the best ending? Sometimes it works, but there are times that I think readers want more. For instance, a recent review addressed this very thing. “Don’t want to give too much away, but the happy ever after is excellent, and there is an epilogue, which always helps me feel finished. Not left hanging…” So said one reader. The thing is, I didn’t plan to have an epilogue. It simply happened. Which doesn’t mean I never plan it. I have. Also, it can be a great way to introduce the next book, if it’s a series. (Oh, yes, we do have our little tricks, don’t we?)

    Cindy, if you feel an epilogue will enhance the story, I have no doubt it will. Go for it! I’ll be watching for the book… :)

    Can I steal your topic for my own blog? LOL

  2. Angela K Roe Says:

    I don’t typically but I’m considering a rerelease for This Montana Man and based on reader feedback, I might do an epilogue for that one.

  3. Cindy Says:

    Hi, Roxann! Yes, I can’t imagine planning an epilogue, mainly because I’m a pantser. The necessity would have to arise out of the characters and their story. Bu after drafting this epilogue, I can really see how it makes this particular story come full circle. It doesn’t drag out the HEA. It enhances it. At least right now I think so. ;) We’ll see how I feel as I flesh it out.

    Strangely, the last line of the epilogue came to me first. I think that was the driving force behind my decision. The line sums up the heroine and her journey.

    Oh, and by all means, let me know when you’ve blogged about epilogues!

  4. Cindy Says:

    Angela, that’s the great thing about digital publishing. We can learn what our readers want and need and then discover if it meshes with our own author’s vision. A reissue for a specific book is the perfect time to do that.

  5. Sharon Horton Says:

    Yep, love epilogues. Love reading them. Love writing them – especially if they’re epilogues to Romances. Sometimes, I’d get so depressed because the story ended when the h/H finally got together. I wanted to know a little about their HEA.

    When I read an epilogue, I get to find out about that HEA. And when I write an epilogue, I get to tell the reader about the HEA.

    So glad you’re happy writing them, Cindy. :)

  6. Cindy Says:

    Thanks, Sharon. It’s fun to try something new.