Annie Nicholas writes paranormal romances. Here she talks about her passions: books, stories, movies, television, shifters, vampires, fantasy, etc.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Delicate Philosophy

I’ve been pondering Happiy-Ever-Afters at the end of stories. With each book, I struggle to bring my characters to Happily-For-Nows let alone the HEAs.


Why? Because sometimes it feels like it’s a lie. I think in modern society we are led to believe everyone should get a HEA but when it doesn’t happen we struggle with depression and worse because we think we’ve failed our culture’s expectation. I hear, “What’s wrong with me?” from friends, co-workers, and family when things don’t come together like they should.

I can understand the need to read and watch things that end well so you can finish with satisfaction. I’m guilty of this but I’m also aware that it’s fiction. Sometimes I wonder if the younger generations are as grounded.

Everyone DESERVES a HEA but most don’t get it. The majority of us get HFNs or less. I’m a realist and it sucks sometimes but my day job makes me so. When I write, it bothers me to have to twist things out of proportion to make it work out in the end. I do my best to make it real.

I have nothing against HEAs in stories. I’m a big fan and hate being let down as a reader. I’ve just figured out why I have trouble writing them and wanted to share.

What’s your take on HEAs in real life?

12 comments:

Ambrielle said...

Very interesting topic, Annie. If an author can progress their story in a way so that the HEA is acheivable and beleiveable, I give kudos to them. It's all how the reader perceives it and I think the plot and character development in the overall story is vital when the couples plight lead to the HEA. As a reader, I look for some type of ending, not neccessary HEA, it can be a HFN which I use in most of my stories, esp. the erotic romance ones. Out of hundreds of variations of endings, you can pick a happy one, a sad one, or a neutral one, but you're correct, you have to pick what's right for your story and the characters.

Fabian Black said...

Interesting post. As you say, in real life very few people actually ever get a nice neat HEA. However, most folk turn to fiction as an antidote to real life and many readers just can't cope with a sad ending. They want to move away from a story feeling uplifted. I can't ever bring myself to read the final chapter of The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields because I know it's sad and it will leave me wrung out and depressed for days afterwards as I dwell on it.

As a writer I have recently set aside a story where HEA clearly didn't fit the emotional climate built as the story developed. I want to finish it and in time I will, but I just need to take a step back for a while in order to find the'courage' to conclude it. I think sad endings can take their toll of a writer just as much as they can of a reader. :)

Jc said...

Hi, (blush)

Um, I also have a very very hardtime ending things happily ever after but my mom graciously informed me that women don't read these books to be depressed all over again, she says, for that they can cut on the tv. Women read these books to be swept away, and most of them know HEA's are bullshit but it's nice to dream. :)

Anyways, that's my mom's take. I really don't have one< --Go figure *rolls eyes* But I think you make a good point. :)

-Jc

AJ said...

Ever notice that HEA are never HUGE Blockbuster Movies? Look at Nicholas Sparks' Dear John, and the Notebook, while they have very strong romantic elements, they don't end with HEA. In Dear John, the heroine marries another man, and in the Notebook, the heroine has Dementia/Alzhiemers.

Maybe there is something to a story that DOESN'T have HEA, clearly, it sells. I'm just saying ...

A.J.

J Hali said...

Thoughtful post, Annie. Me, I need HEA or a very strong HFN. I read to escape everyday life--that's depressing enough!! :)

Penelope Barber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Penelope Barber said...

I think people don't get their HEAs because they snatch the first thing that comes along, misgivings and all. A string of those, and you get convinced that there aren't HEAs.

In fiction, we don't follow our MCs down the path of their whole life. (usually) MCs have the stormy meeting that ends in fairytale wedding and a love story to die for - but 5-10 years down the road? Who knows?

Our novel's end is only a great beginning of a life together that has potential to be a HEA. Our real life not so happily ever afters probably started with at least a hint of HEA or we wouldn't have pursued them and we wouldn't mourn the HEA we didn't get.

Annie Nicholas said...

Ambrielle and Fabian: I don't want to write sad ending, even though I think some of my stories should, I myself will trash a book or movies that leaves me feeling bad. LOL It motivates me to make the HEA but WOW, how do they get there? It would be so much easier to write reality I think.

AJ- I agree, which makes me wonder. Must publishers won't touch a book without at least a HFN. Loose ID is the only one I know of that would. Cool avatar by the way.

Jc- I agree with your mom. It's funny, as reader I demand a HEA or HFN but as a writer I struggle with it.

Penelope- Excellent point. I wrote a blog a year ago discussing that 99% of romance books is about that first meeting. What about stories of the continuing relationship? The couple who had been married umpteen years looking for romance. After that post I wrote a short story about it and posted it on my website. LOL

Penelope Barber said...

"The Notebook" Life-long HEA, but still riddled with challenges. What would life be without them?

Janine said...

I think that HEA's are very important in books because they ARE fiction and not real life. I use my books for escapism, so I really want to be fulfilled when I am done and have to go back to real life. That being said however, I do like a certain degree of realism. I myself ended up with an HEA in real life - one akin to all the romance novels but that is not to say that we don't have our share of problems. I think its naive, in a way, to think that they will be happy forever and nothing will ever go wrong again. I am a strong believer that love will prevail and triumph in the end but there are always obstacles to overcome! One thing or another is going to test the boundaries of the relationship. I think authors like J.R. Ward and Lynn Veihl really portray that well in their books, and I appreciate it because it does bring that sense of reality while still keeping the love aspect strong. My two cents :)

Annie Nicholas said...

Janine- I just started my first JR Ward book. Dark Lover. So far I love it.

Zee Monodee said...

As a writer and reader, I always strive for HEA or HFN at the end. It's true that this uplifts and brings contentment, a sense of satisfaction, of hope.

But in real life what most people don't realize is that HEA is not an acquired status. It takes work to maintain it at a steady level. Being with a partner for years means you start taking him/her for granted. You've seen everything and then some about them. Happiness with this person, as well as desire for this person, is something you have to nurture, a fire you have to keep adding kindling or else it will die down. That's why HEA's don't just happen in real life - it takes effort and work.

That's my take, though. There've been times I've been tempted to say 'go to hell' to my marriage. I think everyone has such moments. But making an effort costs you less than sending it all to hell, and that's how you build a daily HFN that builds into an HEA.