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December 10, 2013

Writing About: Happily Ever After


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?


20 comments:

StratPlayerCJF said...

I'd go with Happily "for now," rather than "ever after."

"Ever after" rules out any possibility of a sequel. :)

Chrys Fey said...

You're right, but in a way it doesn't matter which you choose: for now or ever after. Because for both you're still ending the story happily. The difference is . . . after you end the story you end up wanting to write another. That's when the "ever after" becomes "for now". ;) Unless you're writing a fairy tale and actually write "Happily Ever After". lol

Anonymous said...

Thanks Chris--timely reminders. I'm not sure every book has to end happily, but there does have to a sense that the main protagonist has changed in some important way, and there should be a sense of resolution--that something he or she struggled with has come to a conclusion that feels necessary and right, even if not the happy ending he or we had been hoping for.

Chrys Fey said...

I agree! Not every book has to end happily. Some have no other choice but to have a sad or shocking ending.

Unknown said...

I might be sadistic, but I prefer to see the characters suffer.
Sometimes I also like an ending with no resolution, so you can make up your own mind how it concludes. My wife is the polar opposite she has to have the Happy Ending, or it bugs her to death. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

I always make my characters suffer, but I'm a sucker for a happy ending. ;)

Unknown said...

Hmmm...interesting question. I'm all about a happy ending but if the shocker ending is satisfying (and wraps up all the loose ends) then I guess I could go for that too.

Chrys Fey said...

So could I. ;)

Denise Covey said...

I'm definitely a happily ever after type !

Chrys Fey said...

And there's nothing wrong with that! :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I admit I like happy endings, or at the very least, satisfying endings.

Chrys Fey said...

Me too, Alex. :)

Kelly Hashway said...

I think the ending needs to fit the story, and that doesn't always mean "happily ever after". Some of my favorite books don't have neatly tied up endings.

Chrys Fey said...

A story certainly doesn't needs a "happily ever after", but if it's not going to have a sequel or be followed up in some way then unanswered questions and a cliff-hanger ending will aggravate readers and that's not a good thing. I know I hate it! lol

lisa thomson said...

Not necessarily. Wuthering Heights had the most treacherous ending and it was considered a love story of sorts...okay, so bad example. Sometimes a happy ending is just what the doctor ordered. Great tips, Chrys!

Chrys Fey said...

LOL!!! Love your comment, Lisa!

Unknown said...

I must admit; I do love a happy ending. But although this may be the case in most of my experiences reading and writing stories, there have been books and movies which I've fell in love even when the ending wasn't a "happily ever after." One of my favorite pieces, The Painted Veil, had a sad ending but still, the story was so moving that I couldn't help but to fall in love with it. P.S. I loved the ending of Hurricane Crimes=)

Chrys Fey said...

Oh yes, there are some books and movies with sad or not-so-happy endings that I still LOVE too. One movie: A Walk to Remember. One book: The Christmas Shoes.

THANK YOU, GINA!! That makes me happy! :D

Yanting Gueh said...

Some of my favourite books pre-end on a loss then end on a self-discovered strength to mourn and move on (without forgetting about the loss).

Chrys Fey said...

Sounds like the characters are moving toward a happier ending. :)