Writing an epilogue

If you haven’t read my post on writing prologues you might want to pop over and give that a read – you can even read the original version of my prologue for The Fair Queen from my very first draft!

Epilogues, like prologues, are a hotly debated topic amongst writers. Some love them, some hate them. But they can add an additional layer to your work, when used correctly.

Let’s have a look at how to, and how not to, write an epilogue.

Writing epilogues Lyndsey's Book Blog

As I’m sure you’ve worked out by now, I’ve used a prologue and an epilogue in my current work-in-progress. If you read my post about writing your story’s ending, you might recognise the circular ending tradition. This is where your story ends in the same place as it begins, or the ending brings in elements that are reminiscent of your beginning.

I’ve used an epilogue to bring my story full circle in the sense that it is framed by a prologue and epilogue, each with a time jump (eighteen years earlier in the prologue, three months later in the epilogue). Elements from both the prologue and chapter one reappear in the epilogue to really tie it into the story.

I’ve always hoped to turn The Fair Queen into a series, with at least two, maybe three books. However, in my research into querying agents and publishers, I discovered that debut authors rarely get series offers, so it’s best to wrap your story up at the end in a way that will satisfy readers if there’s no sequel, but express to the agent/publisher that it could extend into a series.

With that in mind…


Dos and don’t of writing an epic epilogue:


  • use an epilogue to tie up loose ends that should have been tied off in your story’s climax and following scenes
  • tack on a lot of unnecessary information that your reader won’t care about, if it doesn’t add anything to the story, cut it
  • leave your readers with more questions than you answer, you should be concluding the story rather than setting up a sequel (a few hints are fine if a sequel is definitely forthcoming)


  • skip forward in time if appropriate, revealing the outcomes of events at the end of the story further into the future
  • write your epilogue from another character’s POV if your MC dies in the story’s conclusion, or if you intend to write a sequel from this other character’s POV
  • explain the outcomes for any much loved secondary characters who may not have been involved in the final scenes of the story’s climax


Your epilogue shouldn’t be dead weight dragging the ending of your novel down. Sometimes an exciting, action-filled climax requires a steady finish to give a satisfying end, but other times your story is best left off after the main action concludes. This is something your Critique Partners and Beta Readers can help you with, if they see the epilogue as unnecessary then it should probably be cut. If you absolutely love it leave it in, but be prepared for an editor to tell you to cut it later.

So there you have it, a few basic tips on whether your story needs an epilogue and how to make sure it serves your story and doesn’t end up getting cut later.

What are your thoughts on epilogues? Do you skip them? Love them? Do you have any advice on writing them? Leave me your tips in the comments!




Writing an epilogue Lyndsey's Book Blog

How to write your story’s ending

Full disclosure, I’m struggling to write the ending of my current work-in-progress, The Fair Queen, a Young Adult Fantasy story. Today’s post is an attempt to work through my issues and come up with a perfect ending that gives readers a sense of satisfaction as well as leaving them wanting just a little bit more. So, join me while I figure out how to end my story, and maybe you’ll pick up a few hints and tips for ending your own stories!

Writing endings Lyndsey's Book Blog

There are five traditional types of ending, according to my research. Shall we take a quick look?

The circular ending

This is where the ending mirrors the beginning – your story has come full circle. The final scene takes place in the same setting, or some of the dialogue reflects that of the initial pages.

The surprise ending

This is the most unexpected ending you can think of (usually best to foreshadow at least slightly so readers are pleasantly surprised rather than throwing the book out of the window).

The unclear ending

This one is a bit vague and ambiguous, letting readers decide on their own resolution rather than making it clear what happens after THE END.

The emotional ending

This one is very dramatic and heart-wrenching, whether that’s a happy or sad ending is up to you.

The ironic ending

This one is the exact opposite to the ending you were expecting – related to the surprise ending, but less of a shock.

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So those are your basic options for ending your story. But how do you decide which one fits your story best? Well, it depends on a few things, such as genre, plot, the overall feeling you want to leave your readers with.

Let’s take a look at the things we need to consider in order to write a cohesive and satisfying ending for our readers (and, let’s be honest, ourselves, because we’re our own biggest fans).

The genre

Most romance novels end with some kind of happy-ever-after, usually quite soon after the resolution of the final big conflict. We don’t get to see much of the daily ins and outs of marital life because that’s not romantic. Equally, novels with battles tend to end after the war has been won and peace is restored, but before the negotiations have truly begun.

Your genre probably has an accepted standard for endings that will give you an idea of when to stop writing. It’s very easy to just keep telling your character’s story with no real structure after your plot concludes, so this will help you to decide when to call it a day.

The protagonist

Who were they at the beginning? Who are they now? How have they changed, and why?

If you’re writing a rags to riches tale, for example, you could use the circular ending and have your MC start the novel standing in their kitchen. It’s a bit shabby and outdated, maybe a mess, with coupons stuck to the fridge with magnets. By the end, they could be standing in the kitchen of their new dream house, with a glass of champagne and the person they love, celebrating their engagement, or a promotion. You get the idea.

I’m writing a YA fantasy, so my MC’s character arc is more about self-discovery, obviously on face-value she’s now a princess with magical abilities, but underneath that she’s discovered a selfless bravery and desire for justice that she didn’t realise she possessed.

Think about how you can show your character’s development within your final pages.

The antagonist

How would your antagonist like the novel to end? With your MC dead or defeated? World domination?

It’s worth considering how the baddie would want things to go so you can decide whether that might actually be the ending that makes the most sense. Or something in between.

Endings don’t always have to be happy, sometimes the most satisfying ending is the unhappy one, depending on the moral of the story.

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Your story’s ending should marry with the overall tone of the book, whether that’s humorous, deep and meaningful, happy or sad. It should tie up as many of the loose threads you’ve left lying around as possible, but definitely not all of them. You want a feeling of completion and understanding, but you want your readers to keep thinking about the book after the last page, and if they know absolutely everything that has happened and will happen they won’t be left wondering.

It goes without saying that your final scene will be the last thing your readers read, so it’s crucial to get the tone right and leave them with the intended message and emotion.

The most satisfying endings tend to be created by the MCs own agency – they make a choice or a decision that leads to this particular conclusion. It should show the ultimate point in the character’s arc, revealing the result of their development, or hinting at it if you are aiming for an unclear ending. You also want to bring in elements from the stories beginning and middle, reminding your readers of key lessons or themes. And finally, your last line is just as important as the first line, as you need to give readers a reason to buy your next book, whether that’s a sequel or a separate story.

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Here are some great resources for writers looking to discover their story’s ending:

Eva Deverell’s ‘The Ending’ worksheet

4 tips for writing satisfying endings from Go Teen Writers

How to write satisfying story endings from Creative Writing Now

How do you tackle your story endings? Are you one of those writers who come up with their last line first? Let me know how you decide on an ending in the comments, I need all the help I can get!



Writing story endings Lyndsey's Book Blog