Just finished drafting the penultimate chapter of my novel. Now twenty-two down, and 88,000 words written. Only one chapter left!
Or so I thought. And then it occurred to me: ‘Hang on, this isn’t a chapter. It’s an epilogue.’
Then the second thing occurred to me: ‘But people hate epilogues. Don’t they?’
The reason why I think it should be an epilogue is pretty simple. The main arc of the novel is now complete at the end of the twenty-second chapter. What I’m planning for the last is wrapping up a couple of plot threads, and setting up some ongoing plots/problems for the protagonists to deal with which I never plan to resolve (i.e. I’m not planning a sequel). I just wanted to show how, for all of their efforts and success, the hard work of living with the world they’ve created has just begun.
There’s a secondary reason, that the main arc occurs over the course of thirty days or so, and the events in the epilogue would occur as long a time afterwards, so there’s a fair amount of temporal distance there too.
I don’t think it’s really a big deal which way I go – chapter or epilogue. At the end of the day, an editor’s going to tell me which is better and (hopefully!) a publisher would likely decide for me regardless. But I’ll call it an epilogue for now.
Mainly because I like the word, though. Eh-pee-log. Satisfying.