I’m popping on today to write a post that I hope you will take seriously … but no, it is not meant to be taken seriously. After all, at the end of the day, you may write what you want …
But allow me to ramble about a personal-taste-thing as if it’s a law. Which indeed, it should be. Because again, epilogues (or at least some kind of continuation) should be MANDATORY for romance novels (and a few other genres, arguably, but meh).
*I say again entirely jokingly*
But before we get any further, well, let me define terms.
What is an Epilogue?
An epilogue is a chapter of a novel that does not concern the main plot of the story but instead exists to wrap up some portion of the plot, provide more context for what “happily-ever-after” looks like, or simply show the reader that all is well … even after a little time has past. They generally take place some time after the final chapter, but this is not always the case.
What Novels Should Include Epilogues?
In my august opinion, most novels should include an epilogue where someone has had a baby. However, that is a highly subjective fact. The novels that really seem to benefit from an epilogue include:
- Romances, particularly romances that are not a part of a series. Why? Because I argue that we really need to see that happily-ever-after. Even if it’s just a snippet!
ALL other novels in ALL other genres.Specifically, though, novels that need to show that happily-ever-after because people are wondering how Katniss and Peeta did after the games, etc.
Now, I’ll go on to address the title of this article.
Why Babies, Though?
Because babies are the ultimate happily-ever-after.
Okay, I know they’re not for EVERYONE. In fact, in some situations, it may not even be what the characters want or need to tie up their story arc. It makes sense in some cases – but in others, it makes more sense to show the satisfaction of another aspect of their arc.
The business they started remains successful after the trying first year or whatever the case may be. What started continued. The happily-ever-after was truly ever-after.
If I were to give honest tips (and despite the overall farcical tone of this article), I would say that the epilogue often exists as a way to show that, even after time passed, the truths that were shared in the book remain true and to offer satisfaction to both the characters and the reader.
But if you’re writing romance – the story of two characters falling in love and getting married – and like me, you write Christian romance … you’ll see what I’m getting at here. Though this is not universally true – and though you are more than welcome to choose NOT to have your characters have children – after all, not everyone is led to have children or CAN have children … I’m just saying, I really like it.
A Side-Ramble About Children in Romances
One of the reasons I mention babies is because apparently there’s a trend amongst secular readers of NOT liking the soft epilogues with babies. Traditional values do, after all, typically include a nuclear family, and that’s a great evil in today’s age – we simply MUST stop reproducing!
(And also, this has to do with people hating the “secret baby” trend, which to be fair, can be done very badly.)
Never mind that the world’s population needs children to sustain itself. Never mind that there’s no truth to overpopulation. Never mind that, from a Christian perspective, none of that matters beside God’s commands to – when we can – multiply. Humans have decided that all humans are evil, and therefore, to further our own interests in any way is impossible.
So I like to write characters who want or desire children – a lot of children, even – and who then go on to have them. And since I write historical fiction, it makes sense to portray a lot of my characters having children because that was historically more accepted (plus, now fertility rates are declining, but even now, only about 1 in 8 couples have difficulty conceiving).
It’s also some wish fulfillment on my part, as I desire children more than anything, but let’s just pretend I’m a smart author whose own desires don’t influence my decisions.
And again, for the sake of not causing any harm to those who are dealing with infertility or simply are not led to have children (or are single), no, having children is not the Single Great Purpose of humanity, and further, if you don’t have children, you’re not actively disobeying God (unless you are, but that’s a personal thing, not something I dare to comment on).
But … why not have your characters want children?
How I’ve Utilized Epilogues
Okay, after all that rambling, I’ll admit it: I have seldom used an epilogue to show “and they had babies!!!”
*cough cough* hypocrite *cough cough*
In fact, in my published works, I have only done this in one book (though that will change as I keep writing).
However, that is largely because I write full-length novels instead of epilogues. Beyond Her Calling doesn’t have an epilogue at all because the story continues in After Our Castle. The Dressmaker’s Secret and At Her Fingertips both have epilogues that change the way the reader views relationships in the story. A Prayer Unanswered isn’t exactly over yet – book 7 will continue the story.
Oddly enough, Time of Grief (book 7) will probably be my book that has an epilogue that … well, we won’t get into it now. 😉
Actually, come to think of it, of all of the published novels in The Chronicles of Alice & Ivy, Ivy Introspective is the one which has essentially what I’m describing here; it exists to give the reader a flash-forward into the “happily-for-now,” if you will.
But if I’m writing slightly more typical romance novels – Like a Ship on the Sea being one example – I opt for a sweet little epilogue. In fact, I even wrote one for Courage to Stay (though it’s mostly available as a giveaway prize for now) because I just couldn’t help myself!
As I work on my draft of Like the Air After Rain, I am considering adding an epilogue set a few years later … and I keep thinking that first I have to hash out the dynamics in the actual novel. That said, I am seriously considering writing the epilogue first! Why? Because that will give me a road map to follow!
Epilogues are GREAT!
And epilogues with babies are even GREATER!
… but maybe they’re not for everyone? SHUT UP WE’LL BE HAVING NONE OF THAT HERE.
I guess the main point I’m trying to make is that, as Christian romance writers, what’s stopping us from adding a soft epilogue with babies? What’s stopping us from writing books with alllllll the babies? I am most confused.
Speaking of which …
My next anthology, Fingerprints in Frost, will feature CHILDREN. Why? Because I can do whatever I want. It’s my anthology. And I like books with children in them.
You can find a little more about that here.
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