Several months ago, I came across a blog that asked this question: “Epilogues do we need them?”
In the blog, the author went on to say . . . “Romance novels have a very strict structure. Depending on the romance publisher, the prescribed format can be even stricter. The general rule is that once the hero and heroine say they love each other, their story is done. Nothing more need be said. Nothing more can be written about them.”
It was this statement that stopped me.
I’m sorry, but doesn’t this seem a little, what’s the words I’m looking for, like the publisher is dictating what all readers want and therefore is hindering the readers experience and the authors inner responsibility to her characters?
Case in point.
While this is not meant to as a bash against my publisher or editor, in my first novel I had a chapter at the end that the editor told me we should cut. I didn’t want to cut the chapter, but was told that the chapter was unnecessary and it would just annoy the readers because, as the blogger above said, “once the hero and heroine say they love each other, their story is done.”
Against my better judgement, I didn’t fight as hard as I should have for this chapter. Instead, I agreed to cut all but a snip-it of words from the novel. I didn’t like the change as I didn’t like how it read, but being new and not really knowing what I could or couldn’t fight for, I let it go. To me, though, the snip-it was awkward and out of place, and it just left this whole at the end of the book that I felt the chapter I did write filled.
So what happened with this snip-it? Just as I predicted, it was a mistake. It’s led to bad reviews and readers saying that it’s not only odd and out of place, but that they feel a part of the novel is missing.
Yeah, I know it is!!!!
And it’s the first thing that I’ll write back in as soon as I get my rights back and republish the novel as a second edition under Long Valley Press.
While I agree that publishers should be allowed their standards—especially mine—where should we as authors draw the line of following those standards to make our novels complete? Should the story stuffer in order to follow a rule? Or should it be allowed to break a rule? Of course, there are stories that should end at the declarations of love. But what about those authors and readers who wish for a little bit more?
I’m the type of reader who likes what I call a “let down” chapter.
What’s a let down chapter? It’s a chapter that is the calm after the storm of the climax. A chapter that gives me an insight into the characters lives after they’ve won whatever war they’ve been fighting through the whole book. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s the day after their victory or a week or a month or even a year, just something to let me know they are happy.
And that’ s why I write them in every one of my novels.
To me whether it’s a let down chapter or an epilogue, I love them. And I know a lot of other people who do. So darling followers, do you prefer epilogues or do you not care?