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:~: Friday, February 09, 2007 :~:

After the HEA

I hope you've enjoyed our first theme week here at RWKF as much as I have! It's been really fun to see everyone's views on the Happily Ever After.

So how do you feel about the "after" the HEA?

There are a few basic ways authors can clue the reader into the characters' lives after they have their ending:

1) Using a former h/H as secondary characters in another book
2) Writing a series where the h/H's story continues
3) Employing an epilogue

As a writer, I've done #1. I've toyed with #2. And I've used #3 a time or two, usually when I needed to fast-forward into the future (Truth and Consequences, coming this summer) or wrap up a hanging loose end (A Formal Feeling, coming 2008).

I've heard, though, that many readers aren't crazy about the use of epilogues. I've never really understood that, because like any tool in a writer's toolbox, the epilogue can be stunningly effective if used well.

What about you? Yay or nay on epilogues? And do you like seeing a h/H reappear in other books? Do you need to see "after" the HEA?



Blogger Edie said...

Epilogues are fine with me, but in so many the h/h have children, with everyone smiling and happy around them. This is supposed to "show" the reader the HEA. It's become a cliche.

7:18 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

I think it depends. In the fast-paced, 2-3 day romantic suspense novels, sometimes that HEA is pretty unrealistic. I mean, how can you know this is the person for all time when you've only known him/her for three days? In those cases, sometimes I think an epilogue is important to show that the H/h are really going to make it for the long haul. In slower paced books that span a longer time frame, I don't generally like epilogues.

I have a good friend who writes for Intrigue, and she uses a lot of epilogues because her books are so short, she feels her characters need that break between the climactic ending and the HEA to make it real. In her case, I understand why she uses them, and generally I think they work.

There are exceptions, of course. I like the way Cindy Gerard uses the same epilogue in her Bodyguard series - the family the series is centered around is always playing croquet in the epilogue. Doesn't sound very intriguing, but it's always the set up for the next book - you get a glimpse of the sibling who will be the hero/heroine in the next one and how the siblings all interact.

Great post, Lin. I'm glad you brought up epilogues. I was going to blog about that last Monday, but didn't, so I'm glad someone else covered it.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Epilogues...great thought, Lin.

I love reading epilogues, but rarely write them. So far, my stories have been tied up neatly at the end with enough info to allow the reader's imagination to fill in the blanks. (At least I think so.)

10:01 PM  
Blogger Carol B. said...

Yay or nay on epilogues?
That's a big YAY for me. :-)

And do you like seeing a h/H reappear in other books?
Oh, yeah. They've moved past the falling-in-love stage and are actually living that HEA.

Do you need to see "after" the HEA?
Need to? Not usually. In some cases, the couple went through so much, it's nice to see them really relaxed and enjoying life together.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Epilogues work for me too, if the author manages to do something different than the standard cliche that Edie mentioned.

I like seeing the h/h together, still in love, still committed--but I'd rather the epilogue touched on something else other than their overwhelming happiness. Like the morning after their first fight. (grin

YOu know, after make up sex. heeheeheehee

I used an epilouge in my last book. But that was meant to do several things. One was to show the hero and heroine were together and actually talking. (when the book ended, the hero still hadn't told the heroine about his two murdered children) So I set the book in a graveyard, with them visiting the graves of his two kids. The other thing it was meant to show was that the hero had healed enough to accepted their loss without it destroying him.

Plus-- there were a ton of loose ends I had to tie up.

So for me that epilogue didn't quadrupole service.

9:33 AM  
Blogger Elisa said...

Great post, Linda. When I'm reading, I love series books. I love to revisit with characters in later books. It isn't so much to see how the H/h are doing after their happy ending, but more to find out what's going to happen with secondary characters or plotlines.

In my writing, I've done the series thing twice, and have a set of books with connecting characters, though I wouldn't exactly call it a series. Since I don't plot or keep many notes as I write, I find it difficult to do the series thing, since it's tough to keep the details and character descriptions consistent.

Epilogues...I don't really notice them all that much when I'm reading. if they're there, I'm fine with it. If they're not, I'm fine with that too, as long as the author has tied up the loose ends at the end of the last chapter.

As far as my writing goes, I would say half my books have epilogues. I've never really thought about it. Some of the stories just seemed like they needed a little more closure.

10:19 AM  

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