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My problem with the happily-ever-after ending is that I don’t know what the heck it means.

If it means that the couple will have a blissful life thereafter with no complications – well, I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. Plus, it’s an insult to truly great couples.

You want bliss? Try a lobotomy.

Otherwise, HEA is like a freaking curse! It’s like saying, “Here’s your future: You will never go through labor or have teenagers in your house. You won’t even have hormones! You won’t own dogs or cats, because you’d have to suffer through losing them. You’ll never make enough money to be audited by the IRS. No one will ever flirt with you at a party, and you’ll never notice a nice-looking stranger out of the corner of your eye. You’ll always play it safe.”

Does that sound like our hero and heroine? Think about what brought them together in the first place. Triumph over adversity. Shared struggle. Make up sex!! Are you really asking them to give all that up?

Hero, do you think rescuing her from a stalker was tough? Let me introduce you to the delivery room, where a determined human being is trying to wriggle out of her body.

And heroine, what are you laughing about? Sure he slayed dragons for you, but when the IRS comes calling – having confused you with another, wealthier and cheating couple – his lance won’t cut it. Nor will your sumptuous curves, witty repartee and ability to move objects with your mind. The name of the game here is simple – find the damned receipts! But the dog ate them. What now, power couple?

You will cry. You will fight. You will wonder if the dud next door would have made a better mate. (Did I mean “dude next door”? No, I meant DUD. The safe guy.)

Okay, I know what you’re saying. HEA means they’ll stay together. Through richer, poorer, sickness, etc. Until death does them part. But what then? She’s not allowed to fall in love again even if she outlives him by 20 years? That seems kind of extreme. So I guess HEA means they stick together no matter what, then they’ll die simultaneously.

Kinda rough on the kids, don’tcha think?

But let’s not split hairs. The truth is, my heroes are confident they can win the heroine over and over again. In fact, they look forward to it! They don’t need some phony HEA to ensure success. And my heroines? They do NOT want to be taken for granted. HEA? Sure, as long as he continues to deserve it, but it’s not a given. Let’s see some effort for crying out loud.

Am I kidding? Yep. But I really do think HEA can only mean one thing – that these two people are so right/perfect for each other, they maximize each other’s chances for withstanding the tough parts of life, and for enjoying the fun parts. They’re stronger together – better able to tackle problems – than they would be apart. It’s not really about being happy – because only the lobotomized couple is always happy. It’s about facing life together, and being the better for it.

In cowboy movies, they ride into the sunset. In fairy tales, they live happily ever after.

My couples? They’ve got a lot more in store for them, but they’ll make it through all that together – if she doesn’t wring his neck first!




( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 2nd, 2007 01:19 pm (UTC)
You've got yourself a fangirl, Kate, even though you're really preaching to the choir here.
Jul. 2nd, 2007 02:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks, May!

HEA is such a vague notion, isn't it? I'm sure it means something different to each person who swears by it. I'd just love to hear those definitions! We're probably all on board with two-thirds of it (the "ever after" part) -- but the "happily" needs work.
Jul. 2nd, 2007 02:06 pm (UTC)

Sometimes I think "They are still alive at the end of the book. If that's not a HEA, I don't know what is." LOL.
Jul. 2nd, 2007 02:21 pm (UTC)
That's true!!
Jul. 3rd, 2007 12:45 pm (UTC)
I've never been sold on the HEA. I didn't put one in my book and the next one definitely isn't going to have one.
Jul. 3rd, 2007 04:26 pm (UTC)
the HEA guarantee
when I'm writing a romance, or even a romance crossover like one of my bombshells, I feel responsible for providing an HEA of some sorts. In my first Bombshell, they're planning their first date at the end of the book, but since they've already been thru hell together, had their first kiss, and done some naughty phone talk, I hope everyone can see that they're on track for "H"EA.

And the strange thing is, even if I wrote a nonromance some day, there would surely be a romantic subplot, and the couple would be on track at the end of that book too (although in the sequels, they'll be tested again and again, and eventually, one might die and the other would have to love again, etc). It's something I need in my writing, and something I expect from 90% of my reading and viewing. The other 10% -- I absolutely need those too! If all endings were happy, I'm not sure the happy ones would feel as special, at least to me. Plus, I'll definitely trade a hilarious ending for a happy one from time to time -- I'm kind of a humor slut. And a tear jerker ending? I can accept one occasionally -- one every five years is about my saturation point, and always in a movie, never in a book.

Jul. 3rd, 2007 05:05 pm (UTC)
Re: the HEA guarantee
Every story has a romantic element in there somewhere. I'm currently reading Six Days of War and all I can think is "Man. Moshe Dayan was HAWT."
Jul. 3rd, 2007 05:15 pm (UTC)
Re: the HEA guarantee
Oh yeah, eye patch!!!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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