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I'm writing a fantasy which stretches over two volumes. At the end of the first book, a complex plot comes to a conclusion with a war but it results in the death of many major characters, one of them close to the hero. The hero also, falls into a temporary coma after the climax (not related to the deaths).

Now, I've an idea of a very good scene which would show how the hero deals with the loss (It is not a dream sequence). I can very easily add the chapter to the Epilogue of the first volume as it is a very gripping scene and seems like a proper note to end the first volume on.

What my issue is that the hero is in a coma and obviously the epilogue places itself into some days after the event. Then when I start the second volume, it starts immediately after the war (and so some days before the epilogue). After this, I show my hero rising from the coma and as part of the continuity, I've to show the scene happening to fit it into the continuity.

What I would like to understand is whether this is a good idea? Should I reuse the chapter to show a continuity? or should I just skip the scene in Volume II and assume people to assume that it happened in the continuity? or is there a third option?

  • Have a look at the Wikipedia article "The Worm Ouroboros" and read the paragraph beginning with "Though triumphant, the Demon lords...." The novel is cyclical, in that its final scene is a re-take of its opening. – user23046 May 18 '17 at 21:59
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It sounds to me like the solution to your dilemma lies within the question of why you decided to place the hero in a coma in the first place, at the end of your first book.

If the purpose was to have a cliff-hanger, keeping the reader wondering whether the hero will rise again, and in what shape he will be, then it seems that adding this Epilogue will ruin that impact. The reader will be saying "oh, that coma thing was not such a big deal, since I just flipped the page and he's back". Indeed, it seems to turn the coma just into a phase of unconsciousness.

However, a coma could also be a different kind of plot device. You might want the coma to last a few days or weeks, during which things occur while the hero rests. Or, once he wakes from the coma, the hero might be permanently injured in some way, and the coma expresses the intensity of his wounds. In this case, you can have the Epilogue you want, but I would place hints in the Epilogue to these coma-related issues. That way the reader will say "wow, that coma was really something significant in the story".

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Usually an epilogue is written to show what happens after the story to give more conclusion to the story. Since you are making a sequel, the sequel replaces the epilogue. If you decide to do the epilogue anyway, when writing the second book remember that some readers like to read sequels out of order, or take a break between reading two books. So they may not understand or fully remember what happened in the first book. You probably need to at least summarize or restate what happened in the epilogue during the sequel, or you could add more detail to it the second time around to make it more interesting to those who so remember it.

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Indeed there is a third option, and a fourth, and a fifth and infinite options. First and foremost . . . when a reader sees the words 'prologue' or 'epilogue' what they actually read is 'optional'. Most people wouldn't recognise a Star Wars prologue if their lives depended on it.

Probably the most important aspect of writing is POV, It is the most powerful tool. The Achilles heal of most fantasy writers is their ego, and their desire to tell the story.

When you multiple volumes you are tasked with satisfying two sets of readers; those who have read previous volumes and are up to speed, and 'new' readers. It is a prerequisite that each volume must stand alone. If you attempt to 'recap' to bring new reader into the know you run the risk of boring existing readers shit-less.

The easy solution is to change POV or get a character to recap (traditionally the prologue is spoken by a fringe character). Additionally, a recap by a third party may differ from the original view. People see things differently.

I don't know your story.

The Prince has been injured in battle. The villain has taken the princess. Maybe we open with princess's maid praying by the the prince's bedside.

"My Lord, you cannot hear my words so I have occasion to speak to beyond my station. I was your mother's chambermaid when I first occasioned you. 16-years-old you were to be wed the daughter of Xerxes. You said no. When your father banished you - you fought him. When the Pyroclons sought to enslave our people you stood up, you said no - you fought them. And when Earl of Pendragon came to take your betrothed as his own, claiming it would unify the Kingdoms - you fought him. Master, I beg of you - rise and fight again. Rise and fight - fight for your Kingdom, avenge the slaying of your father, fight for the return of your princess. I say this . . . even if her return would crush a peasant girl's last hope. Better you live with her than leave me to grieve alone."

  • God that was awful!!

What I've tried to do is recap what has happened before (for the new readers) combined with a shocking revelation ( for the existing readers) - the maid is in love with prince.

  • Does that work for you?
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i think if used well, this would make the narration very interesting. Indeed, I read some short story by a friend who used the same sentence as his first and last statement for the story. Ofcourse, the meaning had completely changed... but it was fun!

And ofcourse, there are several more possibilities.. it all depends on how you want to present.. its your story after all.

Good Luck!

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