I've read a lot of books. Since I was a little kid, it was something I just enjoyed. Part of that may have been because I was lonely. Books took me to an entirely different place with people with completely different problems. But within the span of about 300 pages, I saw those problems get resolved and those characters get their happily ever afters.
So, like I said, I've read a lot. So many authors. So many stories. Even so, there is a trend among authors as to how a story should end. I used to be a very big fan of the "Epilogue." I loved looking into the future of the characters after all their problems go away and they are living their dreams. I think I liked KNOWING everything was fine. But there is another option that I think I've come to love. Epilogues make my heart ache now. It's not a pleasant feeling any more.
When a story ends, one can either resolve the problem and give the the reader hints that despite all problems, the fact that the character now has what they NEEDED they can carry on and edure, OR the author can type the word "epilogue" and explain to the reader what they had in mind. Is it at all strange that for some reason, the first option is more appealing?
On the bright side, reading an epilogue where we read about a hero and a heroine who now have everything they deserve - a wonderful marriage and a baby on the way - can make us smile. Those kinds of endings make us feel as if life is good and can be wonderful. That's why we read books, isn't it? To hear about something better? But hearing about those characters' future can eventually make your heart ache.
We spend far too much time focusing on the future and what it will be. Worrying over what MIGHT be. Certainly an epilogue relieves us of that fear. But for me, I've come to find that I don't NEED to know what will be for those characters. Their story is done being told once they undergo some kind of change for the better. Isn't that what a story is? the story of a struggle and that moment when they overcome? The future apart from THAT DAY'S struggles is another story altogether.
This is why my heart aches as I step into the future and begin worrying or rejoicing in another day's struggles and triumphs. Carpe Diem seems to be the terminology for this idea, but however cliche those words have become. With stories, that's how they work. the character is only shaped by things that have happened or are happenING. Future events have no impact on who the characters are in the moment of their story.
So let's let go of our desire to know that life will be good and focus on the moments that are happening here and now. Goodbye Epilogue. You made my heart ache because you told me things I didn't need to know. I just need to know that my characters have found what they need to face the life ahead of them with confidence.
So how's that?