Sunday, May 01, 2005

Happily Ever After? Really?

On the Romance Central Forums Workshops, Becky Vinyard is presenting on plotting. She brings up the issue of resolution in a story. It is definitely something to think about. Too often the black moment arrives, is resolved and the hero and heroine ride off into the sunset. But is it satisfying?

How many times have you read a story where the hero and heroine have some serious conflicts and yet when the villain has them at knife point, the problems disappear? The hero (or heroine) dispatches the bad guy and realizes they can't live without the other person. THE END! I always wonder what is going to happen 6 months down the road when real life situations hit these people. I recently read a book where the conflicts between the hero and the heroine ran deep. I can see I'm getting to the end of the book, yet I don't see the issues resolving. Out of the blue, a villain comes in and tries to kill the pair. Boom, their issues are resolved and they live happily ever after. I was oddly dissatisfied. I felt disconnected from the pair whom I'd come to know so well.

I really dislike when a couple are working their way through their conflicts and bam, she gets pregnant. I figure it saves the author about 3 chapters of working through conflict so they can get their hero and heroine together. Now, as anyone with children can say, pregnancy often causes more problems in a relationship. It is a cheat. So what happens when the conflict starts building up? She miscarries the baby. Because what is going to draw two people together more than the shared loss of their unborn child? Again, anyone who has gone through the experience knows that it doesn't really work that way. Along with the grief, the initial problems can be amplified by the pain of the pair involved. I'm not commenting on the sensitivity of the issues, merely as a reader and writer who feels cheated when an author resorts to these particular plot devices to speed up the romance between their hero and heroine.

Are authors being lazy or are they being forced to an early resolution by the constraints placed upon them by an editor? I'm not sure. Obviously not all books are like that, but I do tend to find myself drifting towards series of books because the HEA is unresolved and the characters are forced to work through their problems.

Maybe its just me. But I want characters to earn their HEA in a logical manner, to truly understand why they love the other person and to feel the joy of true love.


Amy said...

I agree. There are some stories where the ending seems rushed or incomplete, like...did the author just get bored, run head-on into a deadline, what? The pregnancy is a good example.

I blogged about a similar topic today. :)

Anonymous said...

I call these books the "oh my gosh I only have 10 more pages to wrap all this up" books. They drive me nuts. I hate rushed endings. Work out the problems. Show me the character arc. Show the character has grown.

Good post!