There are a few things that you need to see to if you want your characters to have a happily-ever-after.
For a romance, the hero and heroine should be in love and whatever struggles they were facing during the course of your book is now over. For a thriller, the protagonist should still be alive and the antagonist should either be receiving his/her punishment or be dead at the hands of your protagonist. For a mystery, every secret needs be told, every question needs to be answered, and every mystery needs to be solved.
At the end of any book, regardless of genre, all the loose ends have to be tied into neat little bows. There shouldn’t be a single thread left loose: an unfinished plot line or unanswered question. Everything you ever mentioned should have been addressed by now.
But for a happily-ever-after the ending must be HAPPY and the readers should be satisfied with the outcome.
I say “should” because writers like to break the rules. Maybe you killed off one of your protagonist’s loved ones just before the climax, but at the end of the book your protagonist won. Now he or she can live peacefully for the rest of his or her life, or until you decide to write a sequel. That is a happily-ever-after with a twist, my friend.
Does Hurricane Crimes have a “happily ever after”? You’ll have to find that out for yourself! ;)
QUESTION: Do you like books with a happily-ever-after ending or do you like shocking endings?