Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happily Ever After

When it comes to books and movies, Brynn Paulin has one rule: there must be a happy ending. After that one requirement, anything goes. And it just might in her books.

That’s a clip from my author bio and it’s absolutely true. I believe in happy endings, and I prefer happily ever after endings. Actually, I have a very strong opinion about them. Let’s face it, there’s enough bad stuff going around in the world without me writing an ending that leaves the characters with more horror, sorrow or hardship. As a romance author, I feel that I owe it to my reader to deliver the goods—the warm fuzzy goods. It’s part of the “contract”. Romantic books are adult fairytales. Romance + Hero + Heroine = HEA.

HEA stands for Happily Ever After. In my books, that’s what you’re going to find. HEA. There’s a trend right now for a new ending “Happy for Now”. In many cases, happy for now, in my opinion, is a copout and a betrayal and a little too much like the wishy-washy society we live in that perpetuates the “if you’re not happy, move on” philosophy. There is no permanence or stability.

I have to agree with the commenter yesterday who mentioned honesty in the ending. I’m not advocating a deus ex machina, suddenly all is well and the choirs sing ending. While the characters in a book should experience trials and emotional upheaval, a book should be written with a slant toward getting to the HEA. When you get there, it’s not a surprise though no one could predict the path. It makes sense to get to the HEA. It has to make sense. The “Poof! And they kiss and declare undying love even though they hated each other with unmitigated passion one paragraph ago” kind of stories really irritate me. I wonder, did you run out of words? Did you just get tired of writing the book? Did you not notice what was happening here?

Opinionated? Me? No…

Do I think that the characters in a HEA ending will never face a trial or unhappiness again? No. I don’t think they’re going to live in some romantic utopia where nothing goes wrong, but when THE END comes around, I know that the hero and heroine are united. They will face anything else that happens in their lives as a unit. They are each other’s strength and comfort.

Yes, I think beyond the last page while I’m writing. I can’t be the only author who does that. I often think of many “but what if this happens?” scenarios while I’m writing. Will the connection I’m creating stand up to adversity? If it doesn’t pass my test, I rework things. It helps to fireproof your characters so to speak.

I guess I have to backtrack here for a sec… That happy for now ending. Sometimes it’s necessary. If the characters meet and the romance takes place over the course of a day and/or the emotional connection between them can’t be realistically developed then happy for now has to happen in order to ring true. I believe in love at first sight and soul mates. Quick connections can happen in my realm of experience, but you have to be uber-careful in writing it.

Honestly, this topic is so important to me that I could go on forever. But, I won’t. I’ll end with two reiterations:

1. Romance + Hero + Heroine = HEA

2. Brynn Paulin + Book = HEA

It’s just the way it is.


  1. You is so smrt! Yup u sayz kool smrty type things and sensical stuff what makes sense. U should be a writer.

  2. Hmmm. Now what am I supposed to write on Thursday?

  3. Oh, I know you have a slant Cindy. You're smart that way.

  4. I absolutely agree. BUT, I still love the movie "Jewel of the Nile" because of the way it starts where Joan Wilder is disenchanted with her HEA, when her hero Jack (Michael Douglas) suddenly thinks "Pull tab, drink beer" is the ultimate in romantic conversations and he's more interested in his boat than her. And yet, they manage to renew the romance and have a HEA again.


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