Epilogues – Do Readers Want One? By Stacy Hoff

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I am trying to wrap up my newest manuscript. But I wonder about how I’ll finally write “the end.” To me, a story isn’t finished when the “happily ever after” finally happens. I always find myself needing to craft an epilogue.


I know epilogues aren’t too common. Especially in romance. 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. (Unless they play secondary characters in a sequel—a technique I’ve used myself in my “Desire” series.)

For me, letting go of the hero and heroine abruptly is painful for me. Not only as a reader but as a writer. I have picked up many a romance novel only to have the story concluded immediately after the declaration of love. The next page will be an ad for more books, and then the author’s bio page.

Wait, what? You mean I never get to see the characters actually enjoy their happiness together? To find them in a place of rest, so I can feel at rest, too? Seeing people happy is cathartic for me, even if those people aren’t even real. Having invested a couple of hours with them, I still want to know that they truly will be all right.

Even the ancient Greeks understood the need for audience catharsis. Oedipus Rex may be a bit of a downer but at least I get to know where the king emotionally stands for the rest of his life.

When I initially started writing, I didn’t start out with the idea I’d complete a novel and get published. I wrote because it was a need I felt to create people and put them in a better place then where they started. Doing so was uplifting for not only them, but me. I write epilogues because I get to breathe a sigh of relief when I know that everything for them really will be okay.

Epilogues. I need to write them. I want to read them.

What’s your opinion on epilogues?



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AMAZON LINK FOR HOT SEDUCTION (box set with Stacy Hoff):

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AMAZON LINK FOR SEASON OF LOVE (Box set with Stacy Hoff):

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23 Responses to Epilogues – Do Readers Want One? By Stacy Hoff

  1. I enjoy epilogues. It’s fun to see the characters in a happy moment further on. I say, write the story that needs to be written and don’t worry about formulas.

  2. thisisjean says:

    Prologue — Epilogue; I use these often. It allows for a tie-in between the past and future, bringing the story “full circle.” I want to feel the happy-ever-after too! JM

    • stacyhoff says:

      I’ve never used a prologue, MJ, but glad to know these work for you. I wonder if they can work for me, too. Something for me to think about!

  3. I most certainly read epilogues. In most cases, it gives the reader closure. Let’s them see what happened in the months after the ending. I think they are an important part of some stories. That being said, some of my novels have epilogues, some don’t.

    • stacyhoff says:

      I think they’re important too, Claire Gem! I’m glad to know others feel the same way.

  4. I also enjoy reading epilogues. In my own work, I use them to tie up all the loose ends.

  5. Barbara Monajem says:

    As a reader, I don’t need epilogues. I assume everything will go well after the happy ending. If there’s an epilogue, I read it — sometimes with pleasure, but sometimes with a feeling that I would have been happier without it. However, my editor says readers like them, so I write them when she asks me to. 😉

    • stacyhoff says:

      I didn’t know any editor was into to them, Barbara! Good to know.

      I agree with you that if the epilogue doesn’t put the characters in a better place, why bother?

  6. kristanhiggins says:

    Never heard those rules before, Stacy, but I love epilogues. Most of my books have them. They can be tricky to nail, but they’re so gratifying!

    • stacyhoff says:

      No one would dare to give any rules to my favorite author, the great Kristan Higgins!!! #envy

  7. gailingis says:

    When my soulmate editor reached the end of my book, she said to take the last five or so pages and create an epilogue. Great advice because then the ending with the lovers finding each other had so much more meaning. I love epilogues, they tie up the story and it seems easier to finally let go of the book.

  8. Bethany Averie says:

    I like epilogues in general. For me, the “I love you” is only the end because people say it is, but I’m always interested in what happens AFTER “happily-I-love-you-ever-after”. I think many readers are–at least, from what I’ve seen.

  9. I like them because we all know that I love you doesn’t always mean a happy ending.

  10. I believe in epilogues. I want to know what happens to the characters. Saying I love you isn’t enough. In my next book, there is no epilogue as it’s the last of a series. However, I decided to bring two of the characters back in my new series.
    I’ll drink to the epilogues.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Tema Merback
    Writing as Belle Ami

  11. I want them as a reader and a writer. When they aren’t there, it’s jarring. But that’s me. Lol.

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