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By definition, an epilogue is an additional chapter after the end of a book. Also, it literally means "additional word".

I can imagine a need for an epilogue in a series of novels when there is a need to prepare for a sequel. But are there situations that one would need to add an epilogue in a standalone novel in addition to the concluding chapter? Are there any good examples of this?

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    Don't know how to make this into an answer, but I definitely have read standalone novels with epilogues or similar "afterwords" or the like. It doesn't detract from a book, no matter if it's part of a series or not. Do your thing. – weakdna says reinstate monica Mar 20 at 0:34
  • Conan the Barbarian (the movie) has an epilogue: he is the king of his own kingdom. Yet we never see that happening in any other movie iteration (and it does not happen in the books either, given the author died before writing it). – kikirex Mar 21 at 12:39
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Yes!

The epilogue began long before "the never ending series" became the common form.

Remember: "And they lived happily ever after" is an epilogue.

It's a way of satisfying the readers curiosity as to what happens after the story so you don't have to write that story too.

It can also tie off any loose threads you could not fit into your narrative (a bit sloppy but parts might have been cut for timing purposes).

An epilogue is also common when the story is presented in the form of a narration.

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+1 Shadocat; I will expand on that answer with reasons.

Epilogues are especially welcome if your story is strongly focused on characters, and throughout the story they (like most of us) have thoughts about their future, plans and fears.

If your story centers around an issue in their present life, it may only cover the span of a few months. But in the course of that few months, the reader may come to feel they know your primary characters like friends and family.

Technically, the story is over when they finish their mission. But this can seem like too sudden an ending, and unsatisfying to the reader, like suddenly walking away forever from their friends and family. All the dialogue and feelings about their future feel like loose ends! Even if the main problem is solved, it doesn't feel to the reader like the character stories, or arcs, are completed.

You can tie up those loose ends in an epilogue, whether or not the main crew will return for another story. Epilogues are generally conflict free; NOT a story, just the reporting of the facts to tie up loose ends, the personal issues your characters (and readers) were worried about.

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    +1, Very good. I just wish that I had said this too. :-) – ShadoCat Mar 20 at 18:16
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Epilogues are very common in a variety of novels, as well as movies (sometimes they're filmed, sometimes they're prose on the screen). My own novel has both a prologue and an epilogue, but I guess it doesn't count as an example until it's published.

Epilogues often include a significant time jump. Mine goes 25 years in the future. They can be a summary of where the characters are in the future (or the present, if the book takes place in the past).

They can also jump to different characters. For example, the story may culminate with the defeat of the villain and end with the main characters basking in the glory. An epilogue might take you back to the villain for some comeuppance. Or you could go to some secondary characters.

Another possibility is to use the epilogue to "pan out" and show the bigger picture of the story. Things that the reader didn't know. Politics, history, the actions of the gods, whatever.

How you use it is up to you. If you should use it, is another question. Some say no to prologues and epilogues. But they are both common and can be very productive. Just keep them short and sweet.

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