All’s well that ends well?

Charcards
It’s Wednesday, so it’s Jo again. My but the weeks go by past these days.

I was thinking about endings. Of books, you know. Or other things.

In the book STUMBLING UPON HAPPINESS, by Daniel Gilbert, he addresses the fact that the end can shape the memory of an experience. We’ve all experienced this. A good book can be ruined for us not necessarily by a sad ending, but by an ending that feels wrong. It can be the same with a movie. He cites Schindler’s List, which he says was spoiled for him by the epilogue of real people. I can think of a film called OCTOBER SKY, which I loved, which was made special for me by the tidbits at the end on the real people whose story the movie told.

Gilbert cites an experiment in which people put their hands in 57 degree water for a minute, recording how painful it is. Experiments are full of that sort of stuff, and at least the human participants are usually volunteers. Then they were asked to put their hands in the same water for 90 seconds. Without their knowledge the water was warmed a bit during the last 30 secs. Afterward, they reported that the second experience had been less painful. Their hands had been in the colder water for the same length of time, and then in water that was still cold for even longer, but the slight warming seemed to color the whole experience.

Apparently in general, we tend to remember things at the end of a sequence rather than those at the beginning. A great end of a trip makes us forget all those snarl ups at the beginning. The bitter breakdown of a marriage trumps all the earlier good times.

This is why endings are so crucial, and endings are hard to write. We want to give our story exactly the right ending, but everything about endings is complicated. When does a story end? In a romance novel it could be said to end when the couple happily commit to a future together, but to stop there feels abrupt. The reader needs more time to savor it, so she wants to read on. There may be minor details to be tidied up, which is useful, but sometimes there isn’t much, but still the book needs that little bit more. Then there are epilogues, but I won’t even go there. At least, not today.

The sweet romances could often end with a kiss. Georgette Heyer often did. When they hadn’t kissed, it was a significant event and a sign of commitment and often did feel right. So I think it’s something to do with the sexier romances. The kiss didn’t signal the end. Nor did sex. There were other practical and emotional barriers to overcome, but that ending point, that “Ah, Bisto!” (mostly for the UK readers here) is much harder to pin down.

We all have our own attitudes toward the right ending. I have a problem with any romance that ends without giving the couple a stable, desirable home. No wandering souls for me, please. No couples heading off to settle the wilderness, noble though that is. No dangling threads that suggest that their community will be hostile. And enough money to be comfortable, please.

What are your requiriments for a good ending for a romance novel? For one that satisfies?

Going back to movies, one good movie that was lessened by the ending for me was SERENITY. The movie from Josh Whedon’s aborted TV series, FIREFLY? BTW, he shouldn’t have called it SERENITY even though it has meaning. How could the SF action/adventure crowd get into that? Perhaps we need to blog on titles. I liked Firefly to an extent. I enjoyed the movie. Lots of great lines. But he blew it at the end.

Warning, warning! Incoming spoiler!!!!!!!!!!!

He killed Wash. That wasn’t the real problem. It was an out-of-the-blue and pretty meaningless death. But then he made it all worse by having the rest of the team do the happy ending thing. Hello? Someone just died, you know. Perhaps you could put off bravely facing the future and finally having sex for just a while?

Content and pacing, both off. And I doubt I’ll ever watch it again. Otherwise, I probably would have.

So, anything been made or ruined by an ending? Enquiring cabbage patch kids want to know.

Jo
Trarsm_2

66 thoughts on “All’s well that ends well?”

  1. I found a picture of an original Bisto advert http://tinyurl.com/mbdan . But as for happy endings, I think I prefer something more like the poster of the Startrite twins ( http://tinyurl.com/jj7ao ). In a romance that would mean that the couple’s together, and everything they need is in place so that they can walk into the future together without dangling uncertainties. I don’t mind if that’s literal and they’re going to be ‘wandering souls’ or metaphorical, as long as I’m sure their relationship will last and as long as the ending doesn’t suggest that they’re going to face too much hardship (e.g. I wouldn’t like it if the happy couple boarded the Titanic on its maiden journey or set sail for a volcano that was about to erupt). Apart from that, what really matters is the relationship. Of course, as you say, it does help if there’s ‘enough money to be comfortable, please’, but one reader’s idea of a competence and another’s definition of ‘wealth’ may be identical. I think my ideas on this issue are more in line with Elinor Dashwood’s.

    Reply
  2. I found a picture of an original Bisto advert http://tinyurl.com/mbdan . But as for happy endings, I think I prefer something more like the poster of the Startrite twins ( http://tinyurl.com/jj7ao ). In a romance that would mean that the couple’s together, and everything they need is in place so that they can walk into the future together without dangling uncertainties. I don’t mind if that’s literal and they’re going to be ‘wandering souls’ or metaphorical, as long as I’m sure their relationship will last and as long as the ending doesn’t suggest that they’re going to face too much hardship (e.g. I wouldn’t like it if the happy couple boarded the Titanic on its maiden journey or set sail for a volcano that was about to erupt). Apart from that, what really matters is the relationship. Of course, as you say, it does help if there’s ‘enough money to be comfortable, please’, but one reader’s idea of a competence and another’s definition of ‘wealth’ may be identical. I think my ideas on this issue are more in line with Elinor Dashwood’s.

    Reply
  3. I found a picture of an original Bisto advert http://tinyurl.com/mbdan . But as for happy endings, I think I prefer something more like the poster of the Startrite twins ( http://tinyurl.com/jj7ao ). In a romance that would mean that the couple’s together, and everything they need is in place so that they can walk into the future together without dangling uncertainties. I don’t mind if that’s literal and they’re going to be ‘wandering souls’ or metaphorical, as long as I’m sure their relationship will last and as long as the ending doesn’t suggest that they’re going to face too much hardship (e.g. I wouldn’t like it if the happy couple boarded the Titanic on its maiden journey or set sail for a volcano that was about to erupt). Apart from that, what really matters is the relationship. Of course, as you say, it does help if there’s ‘enough money to be comfortable, please’, but one reader’s idea of a competence and another’s definition of ‘wealth’ may be identical. I think my ideas on this issue are more in line with Elinor Dashwood’s.

    Reply
  4. Engings are HARD! I’m with you on wanting a couple to be secure for the future, and one does want to savor their commitment for a few pages at the end. But only a few, because the commitment is the end of the emotional tension.
    Like you, I love OCTOBER SKY, and since I’m writer-curious, I loved the updates on the characters. (Especially learning that the protagonisit’s mom finally got to live in Myrtle Beach.)
    I can’t offhand think of a movie that I really ended up hating because of the ending (though I could in time.) Certainly it’s not uncommon for a story to come unraveled at the end. As I said, endings are hard.
    Of course, beginnings and middles are, too…
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  5. Engings are HARD! I’m with you on wanting a couple to be secure for the future, and one does want to savor their commitment for a few pages at the end. But only a few, because the commitment is the end of the emotional tension.
    Like you, I love OCTOBER SKY, and since I’m writer-curious, I loved the updates on the characters. (Especially learning that the protagonisit’s mom finally got to live in Myrtle Beach.)
    I can’t offhand think of a movie that I really ended up hating because of the ending (though I could in time.) Certainly it’s not uncommon for a story to come unraveled at the end. As I said, endings are hard.
    Of course, beginnings and middles are, too…
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  6. Engings are HARD! I’m with you on wanting a couple to be secure for the future, and one does want to savor their commitment for a few pages at the end. But only a few, because the commitment is the end of the emotional tension.
    Like you, I love OCTOBER SKY, and since I’m writer-curious, I loved the updates on the characters. (Especially learning that the protagonisit’s mom finally got to live in Myrtle Beach.)
    I can’t offhand think of a movie that I really ended up hating because of the ending (though I could in time.) Certainly it’s not uncommon for a story to come unraveled at the end. As I said, endings are hard.
    Of course, beginnings and middles are, too…
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  7. Laura, thanks for the link to the Bisto ad. The one to Startrite seemed to hang, but I certainly remember Startrite.
    Yes, Mary Jo, unraveling endings are a problem, too. They feel as if the author doesn’t know what the ending point is, so she keeps writing until she runs out of time and/or space.
    In a way, a story like a joke needs the punchline. Not a catchy phrase or a twist (It was all a dream. This stranded couple turn out to be Adam and Eve. et al)but a place that ends and makes sense of all that went before.
    In a romance that is the certainty of positive bonding and that needs to be framed, to stand out, even if the words dance around it for a little longer.
    Jo

    Reply
  8. Laura, thanks for the link to the Bisto ad. The one to Startrite seemed to hang, but I certainly remember Startrite.
    Yes, Mary Jo, unraveling endings are a problem, too. They feel as if the author doesn’t know what the ending point is, so she keeps writing until she runs out of time and/or space.
    In a way, a story like a joke needs the punchline. Not a catchy phrase or a twist (It was all a dream. This stranded couple turn out to be Adam and Eve. et al)but a place that ends and makes sense of all that went before.
    In a romance that is the certainty of positive bonding and that needs to be framed, to stand out, even if the words dance around it for a little longer.
    Jo

    Reply
  9. Laura, thanks for the link to the Bisto ad. The one to Startrite seemed to hang, but I certainly remember Startrite.
    Yes, Mary Jo, unraveling endings are a problem, too. They feel as if the author doesn’t know what the ending point is, so she keeps writing until she runs out of time and/or space.
    In a way, a story like a joke needs the punchline. Not a catchy phrase or a twist (It was all a dream. This stranded couple turn out to be Adam and Eve. et al)but a place that ends and makes sense of all that went before.
    In a romance that is the certainty of positive bonding and that needs to be framed, to stand out, even if the words dance around it for a little longer.
    Jo

    Reply
  10. Endings are hard on readers, at least they are hard on me. I’ve invested so much emotional energy in a book, trusting the author to carry me through, that a bad ending can sour me. Permanently. At the absolute top of my list on good endings is MJ’s THE WILD CHILD. I was completely satisfied at the end because all that should have happened, happened. Sure Kyle was still waiting on his story, but trusted MJ enough to know he would find his love and live HEA.
    On the bottom of my list is any book that walks off into the sunset w/o taking me with it because I’m not ready to go. I need to be convinced the characters are OK, before I turn the last page. A story that arcs from one book to the next is fine. I’m OK with knowing all may not be well in the kingdom, but I need to know the characters have learned, grown and changed enough to make it OK.
    As a writer, it has always amazed me how in daily life we will give up or take on just about anything to be OK in our world. But in our books, we demand our characters endure the type of hardship (change) we view as undesirable and run from in our own lives. Go figure.
    Nina, thinking way to hard about this.

    Reply
  11. Endings are hard on readers, at least they are hard on me. I’ve invested so much emotional energy in a book, trusting the author to carry me through, that a bad ending can sour me. Permanently. At the absolute top of my list on good endings is MJ’s THE WILD CHILD. I was completely satisfied at the end because all that should have happened, happened. Sure Kyle was still waiting on his story, but trusted MJ enough to know he would find his love and live HEA.
    On the bottom of my list is any book that walks off into the sunset w/o taking me with it because I’m not ready to go. I need to be convinced the characters are OK, before I turn the last page. A story that arcs from one book to the next is fine. I’m OK with knowing all may not be well in the kingdom, but I need to know the characters have learned, grown and changed enough to make it OK.
    As a writer, it has always amazed me how in daily life we will give up or take on just about anything to be OK in our world. But in our books, we demand our characters endure the type of hardship (change) we view as undesirable and run from in our own lives. Go figure.
    Nina, thinking way to hard about this.

    Reply
  12. Endings are hard on readers, at least they are hard on me. I’ve invested so much emotional energy in a book, trusting the author to carry me through, that a bad ending can sour me. Permanently. At the absolute top of my list on good endings is MJ’s THE WILD CHILD. I was completely satisfied at the end because all that should have happened, happened. Sure Kyle was still waiting on his story, but trusted MJ enough to know he would find his love and live HEA.
    On the bottom of my list is any book that walks off into the sunset w/o taking me with it because I’m not ready to go. I need to be convinced the characters are OK, before I turn the last page. A story that arcs from one book to the next is fine. I’m OK with knowing all may not be well in the kingdom, but I need to know the characters have learned, grown and changed enough to make it OK.
    As a writer, it has always amazed me how in daily life we will give up or take on just about anything to be OK in our world. But in our books, we demand our characters endure the type of hardship (change) we view as undesirable and run from in our own lives. Go figure.
    Nina, thinking way to hard about this.

    Reply
  13. I loved the movie Cold Mountain–except for the end when Inman dies. Now I know that all stories don’t have happy endings (and, admittedly, I’ve never read Cold Mountain, so perhaps the tragic ending is better justified in the book itself), but for me the end of that movie was pretty much just a big bummer.

    Reply
  14. I loved the movie Cold Mountain–except for the end when Inman dies. Now I know that all stories don’t have happy endings (and, admittedly, I’ve never read Cold Mountain, so perhaps the tragic ending is better justified in the book itself), but for me the end of that movie was pretty much just a big bummer.

    Reply
  15. I loved the movie Cold Mountain–except for the end when Inman dies. Now I know that all stories don’t have happy endings (and, admittedly, I’ve never read Cold Mountain, so perhaps the tragic ending is better justified in the book itself), but for me the end of that movie was pretty much just a big bummer.

    Reply
  16. Happy endings are the best. The one where as a reader you let out a big sigh and are really pleased that the characters you have grown to love are going on to a good life. If a book is part of a series an epilogue where all the characters are together or there is news of them can round out the stories. In the Rogues there is news of them through every book so an epilogue is not necessary but where the series is shorter an epilogue will contribute to that happy ending feeling. Mary Jo’s Silk trilogy had a great epilogue where all the characters met together for the first time. As a reader you know the authors who are consistent through every book and where the ending always fits the story. Those are the ones we buy, keep and recommend.

    Reply
  17. Happy endings are the best. The one where as a reader you let out a big sigh and are really pleased that the characters you have grown to love are going on to a good life. If a book is part of a series an epilogue where all the characters are together or there is news of them can round out the stories. In the Rogues there is news of them through every book so an epilogue is not necessary but where the series is shorter an epilogue will contribute to that happy ending feeling. Mary Jo’s Silk trilogy had a great epilogue where all the characters met together for the first time. As a reader you know the authors who are consistent through every book and where the ending always fits the story. Those are the ones we buy, keep and recommend.

    Reply
  18. Happy endings are the best. The one where as a reader you let out a big sigh and are really pleased that the characters you have grown to love are going on to a good life. If a book is part of a series an epilogue where all the characters are together or there is news of them can round out the stories. In the Rogues there is news of them through every book so an epilogue is not necessary but where the series is shorter an epilogue will contribute to that happy ending feeling. Mary Jo’s Silk trilogy had a great epilogue where all the characters met together for the first time. As a reader you know the authors who are consistent through every book and where the ending always fits the story. Those are the ones we buy, keep and recommend.

    Reply
  19. I’ve been thinking a lot about endings this week, mostly because I just watched BROKEN TRAIL and I wailed at the end “How can he let her and the girls go?” I just couldn’t accept the ending. It didn’t ring true to the characters. I thought perhaps it was because it was based on a true story (which they strongly imply) but a bit of research turns up the fact that it’s pure fiction (based loosely on a whole bunch of people’s real life stories). So it’s not that real life man wasn’t man enough to grasp what he so obviously wanted, it was that the writer didn’t see the man growing enough to fight for what he wanted . . . I think this is one of the reasons that I read romance. I WANT to know that the characters are going to GROW and that they’re going to take risks in the pursuit of their HEA.

    Reply
  20. I’ve been thinking a lot about endings this week, mostly because I just watched BROKEN TRAIL and I wailed at the end “How can he let her and the girls go?” I just couldn’t accept the ending. It didn’t ring true to the characters. I thought perhaps it was because it was based on a true story (which they strongly imply) but a bit of research turns up the fact that it’s pure fiction (based loosely on a whole bunch of people’s real life stories). So it’s not that real life man wasn’t man enough to grasp what he so obviously wanted, it was that the writer didn’t see the man growing enough to fight for what he wanted . . . I think this is one of the reasons that I read romance. I WANT to know that the characters are going to GROW and that they’re going to take risks in the pursuit of their HEA.

    Reply
  21. I’ve been thinking a lot about endings this week, mostly because I just watched BROKEN TRAIL and I wailed at the end “How can he let her and the girls go?” I just couldn’t accept the ending. It didn’t ring true to the characters. I thought perhaps it was because it was based on a true story (which they strongly imply) but a bit of research turns up the fact that it’s pure fiction (based loosely on a whole bunch of people’s real life stories). So it’s not that real life man wasn’t man enough to grasp what he so obviously wanted, it was that the writer didn’t see the man growing enough to fight for what he wanted . . . I think this is one of the reasons that I read romance. I WANT to know that the characters are going to GROW and that they’re going to take risks in the pursuit of their HEA.

    Reply
  22. I often think books end too abruptly. It’s not enough for me to know the Big Crisis of the book has been solved and all the people I care about are OK (or properly mourned, as the case may be). I want to linger on their happiness for a few pages, to bask in the satisfaction of bravery being honored, true love rewarded, justice served, etc.
    One place where I differ from Jo is that I *do* love wandering souls, maybe because wanderlust is such a dominant trait of my own personality. So I love an ending where characters are sailing off into the sunset, as it were, in search of further adventures.

    Reply
  23. I often think books end too abruptly. It’s not enough for me to know the Big Crisis of the book has been solved and all the people I care about are OK (or properly mourned, as the case may be). I want to linger on their happiness for a few pages, to bask in the satisfaction of bravery being honored, true love rewarded, justice served, etc.
    One place where I differ from Jo is that I *do* love wandering souls, maybe because wanderlust is such a dominant trait of my own personality. So I love an ending where characters are sailing off into the sunset, as it were, in search of further adventures.

    Reply
  24. I often think books end too abruptly. It’s not enough for me to know the Big Crisis of the book has been solved and all the people I care about are OK (or properly mourned, as the case may be). I want to linger on their happiness for a few pages, to bask in the satisfaction of bravery being honored, true love rewarded, justice served, etc.
    One place where I differ from Jo is that I *do* love wandering souls, maybe because wanderlust is such a dominant trait of my own personality. So I love an ending where characters are sailing off into the sunset, as it were, in search of further adventures.

    Reply
  25. I agree with Susan – I do also feel that some books end abruptly, and I want to know more. Two that stand out in my mind, for different reasons, are Jo’s Hazard and Mary’s More than a Mistress. Hazard because it’s hinted very strongly that Race and Anne will have problems being accepted in Society because of Race’s false name and technical illegitimacy. Although I’ve kept hoping to see Race and Anne in a subsequent Rogues book, to satisfy myself that they’re okay and happy, that hasn’t happened. And, since they’re one of my favourite Rogue couples, that’s disappointing.
    More than a Mistress because we never actually saw the pivotal scene in which all was forgiven and Jane agreed to marry the Duke. We were on the way to the resolution of the big conflict, and then suddenly there was the ball where Jane turns up on his arm and the big revelation at the end of it that they were already married. That spoiled the ending for me, because I’d far rather enjoy and savour the resolution of the conflict than have it happen off-screen just for the sake of a little bit of deception.
    So, yes, while those are two of my favourite historical novels of any author, every time I re-read I am disappointed by the ending – and I remember them for that slight disappointment.

    Reply
  26. I agree with Susan – I do also feel that some books end abruptly, and I want to know more. Two that stand out in my mind, for different reasons, are Jo’s Hazard and Mary’s More than a Mistress. Hazard because it’s hinted very strongly that Race and Anne will have problems being accepted in Society because of Race’s false name and technical illegitimacy. Although I’ve kept hoping to see Race and Anne in a subsequent Rogues book, to satisfy myself that they’re okay and happy, that hasn’t happened. And, since they’re one of my favourite Rogue couples, that’s disappointing.
    More than a Mistress because we never actually saw the pivotal scene in which all was forgiven and Jane agreed to marry the Duke. We were on the way to the resolution of the big conflict, and then suddenly there was the ball where Jane turns up on his arm and the big revelation at the end of it that they were already married. That spoiled the ending for me, because I’d far rather enjoy and savour the resolution of the conflict than have it happen off-screen just for the sake of a little bit of deception.
    So, yes, while those are two of my favourite historical novels of any author, every time I re-read I am disappointed by the ending – and I remember them for that slight disappointment.

    Reply
  27. I agree with Susan – I do also feel that some books end abruptly, and I want to know more. Two that stand out in my mind, for different reasons, are Jo’s Hazard and Mary’s More than a Mistress. Hazard because it’s hinted very strongly that Race and Anne will have problems being accepted in Society because of Race’s false name and technical illegitimacy. Although I’ve kept hoping to see Race and Anne in a subsequent Rogues book, to satisfy myself that they’re okay and happy, that hasn’t happened. And, since they’re one of my favourite Rogue couples, that’s disappointing.
    More than a Mistress because we never actually saw the pivotal scene in which all was forgiven and Jane agreed to marry the Duke. We were on the way to the resolution of the big conflict, and then suddenly there was the ball where Jane turns up on his arm and the big revelation at the end of it that they were already married. That spoiled the ending for me, because I’d far rather enjoy and savour the resolution of the conflict than have it happen off-screen just for the sake of a little bit of deception.
    So, yes, while those are two of my favourite historical novels of any author, every time I re-read I am disappointed by the ending – and I remember them for that slight disappointment.

    Reply
  28. Interesting, Wendy, about Hazard. I meant to make it clear that Race and Anne didn’t want to take part in society and would be deliriously happy with their home and as many archival sources as they can get their hands on. Clearly I didn’t, so at some future date I’ll see if we can visit them.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  29. Interesting, Wendy, about Hazard. I meant to make it clear that Race and Anne didn’t want to take part in society and would be deliriously happy with their home and as many archival sources as they can get their hands on. Clearly I didn’t, so at some future date I’ll see if we can visit them.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  30. Interesting, Wendy, about Hazard. I meant to make it clear that Race and Anne didn’t want to take part in society and would be deliriously happy with their home and as many archival sources as they can get their hands on. Clearly I didn’t, so at some future date I’ll see if we can visit them.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  31. The only movie ending I can remember hating with a passion is Pay It Forward. I have not read the book so I can’t compare. In my mind, the child did not have to die for the lesson to be profound.
    I recently changed the ending of one of my mainstream books because of an insightful critique of the movie Brokeback Mountain. The critic complained about the requisite killing off of gay characters. The “too sensitive for this world syndrome.”
    I have a character based on an old friend who is deceased. The reader expects this character to die from the very beginning of the book. Inspired by this critique, I pulled the rug out from under the reader in a good way and gave the character a reprieve, finding it added more depth to the ending rather than less.
    Jane
    PS Race and Anne are one of my favorite couples too. 🙂

    Reply
  32. The only movie ending I can remember hating with a passion is Pay It Forward. I have not read the book so I can’t compare. In my mind, the child did not have to die for the lesson to be profound.
    I recently changed the ending of one of my mainstream books because of an insightful critique of the movie Brokeback Mountain. The critic complained about the requisite killing off of gay characters. The “too sensitive for this world syndrome.”
    I have a character based on an old friend who is deceased. The reader expects this character to die from the very beginning of the book. Inspired by this critique, I pulled the rug out from under the reader in a good way and gave the character a reprieve, finding it added more depth to the ending rather than less.
    Jane
    PS Race and Anne are one of my favorite couples too. 🙂

    Reply
  33. The only movie ending I can remember hating with a passion is Pay It Forward. I have not read the book so I can’t compare. In my mind, the child did not have to die for the lesson to be profound.
    I recently changed the ending of one of my mainstream books because of an insightful critique of the movie Brokeback Mountain. The critic complained about the requisite killing off of gay characters. The “too sensitive for this world syndrome.”
    I have a character based on an old friend who is deceased. The reader expects this character to die from the very beginning of the book. Inspired by this critique, I pulled the rug out from under the reader in a good way and gave the character a reprieve, finding it added more depth to the ending rather than less.
    Jane
    PS Race and Anne are one of my favorite couples too. 🙂

    Reply
  34. When I read a romance, I expect the story to end happily. I once had somebody tell that the book he was reading was spoiled because he already knew the caracter were going to end up together. I, on the other hand, enjoy knowing they’ll get together, it’s the journey they take to get there that intrigues me. To have gone through so much strife in order to fall in love, it’s important to me that the couple stays together, in love and living happily ever after. It doesn’t hurt when the ending gives you a bit of information on how they’re faring a couple of years down the road.
    It completely frustrates me to read a book and get to the last page only to be disapointed with the ending. I read one recently that I wanted to pitch once I finished it! 🙁

    Reply
  35. When I read a romance, I expect the story to end happily. I once had somebody tell that the book he was reading was spoiled because he already knew the caracter were going to end up together. I, on the other hand, enjoy knowing they’ll get together, it’s the journey they take to get there that intrigues me. To have gone through so much strife in order to fall in love, it’s important to me that the couple stays together, in love and living happily ever after. It doesn’t hurt when the ending gives you a bit of information on how they’re faring a couple of years down the road.
    It completely frustrates me to read a book and get to the last page only to be disapointed with the ending. I read one recently that I wanted to pitch once I finished it! 🙁

    Reply
  36. When I read a romance, I expect the story to end happily. I once had somebody tell that the book he was reading was spoiled because he already knew the caracter were going to end up together. I, on the other hand, enjoy knowing they’ll get together, it’s the journey they take to get there that intrigues me. To have gone through so much strife in order to fall in love, it’s important to me that the couple stays together, in love and living happily ever after. It doesn’t hurt when the ending gives you a bit of information on how they’re faring a couple of years down the road.
    It completely frustrates me to read a book and get to the last page only to be disapointed with the ending. I read one recently that I wanted to pitch once I finished it! 🙁

    Reply
  37. Jaclyne, absolutely on the need for the happy ending in romance. In all genre fiction, in fact, though I call it the triumphant ending. It’s when the protagonists get what they’ve worked for.
    In a romance the characters have worked and suffered for that future together, so they’d better get it. Not just a moment, but a future.
    It’s easier in some other forms of pop fic because the goal could be more direct — to destroy the ring, to catch the murderer. If the protagonist dies in the process it’s a bummer but not a betrayal. The betrayal would be if the protagonist achieved happiness while leaving the ring to wreak havoc or letting the criminal go unpunished.
    Jo

    Reply
  38. Jaclyne, absolutely on the need for the happy ending in romance. In all genre fiction, in fact, though I call it the triumphant ending. It’s when the protagonists get what they’ve worked for.
    In a romance the characters have worked and suffered for that future together, so they’d better get it. Not just a moment, but a future.
    It’s easier in some other forms of pop fic because the goal could be more direct — to destroy the ring, to catch the murderer. If the protagonist dies in the process it’s a bummer but not a betrayal. The betrayal would be if the protagonist achieved happiness while leaving the ring to wreak havoc or letting the criminal go unpunished.
    Jo

    Reply
  39. Jaclyne, absolutely on the need for the happy ending in romance. In all genre fiction, in fact, though I call it the triumphant ending. It’s when the protagonists get what they’ve worked for.
    In a romance the characters have worked and suffered for that future together, so they’d better get it. Not just a moment, but a future.
    It’s easier in some other forms of pop fic because the goal could be more direct — to destroy the ring, to catch the murderer. If the protagonist dies in the process it’s a bummer but not a betrayal. The betrayal would be if the protagonist achieved happiness while leaving the ring to wreak havoc or letting the criminal go unpunished.
    Jo

    Reply
  40. This is going to sound goofy, but I’ve realized that what I often want at the end of a book is a party–it can be as small as a dinner for two or as large as a royal wedding with a whole kingdom dancing in the streets, but I want to celebrate with the characters. When I feel a book ends too quickly, I’m often thinking, “OK, sure, you solved the conflicts, but then you just STOPPED. Can’t we at least have a nice festive dinner with a few toasts?”

    Reply
  41. This is going to sound goofy, but I’ve realized that what I often want at the end of a book is a party–it can be as small as a dinner for two or as large as a royal wedding with a whole kingdom dancing in the streets, but I want to celebrate with the characters. When I feel a book ends too quickly, I’m often thinking, “OK, sure, you solved the conflicts, but then you just STOPPED. Can’t we at least have a nice festive dinner with a few toasts?”

    Reply
  42. This is going to sound goofy, but I’ve realized that what I often want at the end of a book is a party–it can be as small as a dinner for two or as large as a royal wedding with a whole kingdom dancing in the streets, but I want to celebrate with the characters. When I feel a book ends too quickly, I’m often thinking, “OK, sure, you solved the conflicts, but then you just STOPPED. Can’t we at least have a nice festive dinner with a few toasts?”

    Reply
  43. I meant to make it clear that Race and Anne didn’t want to take part in society and would be deliriously happy with their home and as many archival sources as they can get their hands on.
    That’s how I understood the ending. True love, unlimited research time and unlimited access to all the primary sources I wanted. Sounds like bliss.
    I can imagine their friends and family popping in on them every so often, though, so they wouldn’t be completely isolated from other people.

    Reply
  44. I meant to make it clear that Race and Anne didn’t want to take part in society and would be deliriously happy with their home and as many archival sources as they can get their hands on.
    That’s how I understood the ending. True love, unlimited research time and unlimited access to all the primary sources I wanted. Sounds like bliss.
    I can imagine their friends and family popping in on them every so often, though, so they wouldn’t be completely isolated from other people.

    Reply
  45. I meant to make it clear that Race and Anne didn’t want to take part in society and would be deliriously happy with their home and as many archival sources as they can get their hands on.
    That’s how I understood the ending. True love, unlimited research time and unlimited access to all the primary sources I wanted. Sounds like bliss.
    I can imagine their friends and family popping in on them every so often, though, so they wouldn’t be completely isolated from other people.

    Reply
  46. Susan, parties and celebrations at the end are excellent. As you say, they let the reader savor the triumph and also see it in action. A party, parade, award ceremony etc can also serve another purpose. It can show that the characters’ world is also the better for their efforts and knows it.
    That’s as I see Anne and Race, Laura, but not particularly isolated at all. They’re living almost in Anne’s parents’ estate and will be there a lot. I’m sure they’ll take part in local society, and then Race has many friends as well.
    They certainly wouldn’t be outcasts if they chose to take a larger part in society. Only curiosities, and that wouldn’t bother them. But I should have made this clearer.
    I was going with their flow, which was small house, no fuss, endless archives = bliss.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  47. Susan, parties and celebrations at the end are excellent. As you say, they let the reader savor the triumph and also see it in action. A party, parade, award ceremony etc can also serve another purpose. It can show that the characters’ world is also the better for their efforts and knows it.
    That’s as I see Anne and Race, Laura, but not particularly isolated at all. They’re living almost in Anne’s parents’ estate and will be there a lot. I’m sure they’ll take part in local society, and then Race has many friends as well.
    They certainly wouldn’t be outcasts if they chose to take a larger part in society. Only curiosities, and that wouldn’t bother them. But I should have made this clearer.
    I was going with their flow, which was small house, no fuss, endless archives = bliss.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  48. Susan, parties and celebrations at the end are excellent. As you say, they let the reader savor the triumph and also see it in action. A party, parade, award ceremony etc can also serve another purpose. It can show that the characters’ world is also the better for their efforts and knows it.
    That’s as I see Anne and Race, Laura, but not particularly isolated at all. They’re living almost in Anne’s parents’ estate and will be there a lot. I’m sure they’ll take part in local society, and then Race has many friends as well.
    They certainly wouldn’t be outcasts if they chose to take a larger part in society. Only curiosities, and that wouldn’t bother them. But I should have made this clearer.
    I was going with their flow, which was small house, no fuss, endless archives = bliss.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  49. My friends and I were discussing endings a while back and I discovered (much to my horror) that the endings I loathe (the gushy “I love you” “No, I love you” “No . . .” ones) are the ones that one of my friends likes best! I’m green and gills and trying hard not to vomit and she’s basking in a warm, happy place. She on the other hand feels cheated if the characters (particularly the hero) never actually says the “L” word.
    I have a feeling she and will not be happy with the endings of each others books . . .

    Reply
  50. My friends and I were discussing endings a while back and I discovered (much to my horror) that the endings I loathe (the gushy “I love you” “No, I love you” “No . . .” ones) are the ones that one of my friends likes best! I’m green and gills and trying hard not to vomit and she’s basking in a warm, happy place. She on the other hand feels cheated if the characters (particularly the hero) never actually says the “L” word.
    I have a feeling she and will not be happy with the endings of each others books . . .

    Reply
  51. My friends and I were discussing endings a while back and I discovered (much to my horror) that the endings I loathe (the gushy “I love you” “No, I love you” “No . . .” ones) are the ones that one of my friends likes best! I’m green and gills and trying hard not to vomit and she’s basking in a warm, happy place. She on the other hand feels cheated if the characters (particularly the hero) never actually says the “L” word.
    I have a feeling she and will not be happy with the endings of each others books . . .

    Reply
  52. What kills an ending for me? When someone that has been an integral part of the story dies and we didn’t see it coming. Sure, people die. But for an HEA, let them die before the end and let us have a chance to get over it. I don’t want to end a book in mourning.
    I also want to see my couple together with all the major loose ends tied up. A minor thread wavering indecisively is fine if I know I’m going to get another book that will weave it into the tapestry. But, by jove, you’d better make sure I get that book or I’ll be screaming! They can have uncertain adventures to face, as long as they have each other and any major problems that came up in the book were resolved. And they don’t have to have a lot of money, as long as they aren’t poverty stricken. Enough to get by is fine if they have each other.
    I’ve read a few books that had me throwing them against the wall because of the ending, just can’t remember the titles. Usually, though, it’s movies that leave me screaming. I seem to remember feeling off about Serenity’s end. Dear Frankie had me literally jumping of the couch and screaming “NO” at the TV (good thing I watched this at home and not the theater). I don’t invest that much emotion into a book or movie and come away happy unless you show me the HEA. Mom and Frankie sitting on the pier was not enough and I already suspected that was where it was going to end. I was telling my husband “It better not end there, it better not” and then whamo! it did. IIRC, I had just watched Serenity so I got two back to back unsatisfying endings.

    Reply
  53. What kills an ending for me? When someone that has been an integral part of the story dies and we didn’t see it coming. Sure, people die. But for an HEA, let them die before the end and let us have a chance to get over it. I don’t want to end a book in mourning.
    I also want to see my couple together with all the major loose ends tied up. A minor thread wavering indecisively is fine if I know I’m going to get another book that will weave it into the tapestry. But, by jove, you’d better make sure I get that book or I’ll be screaming! They can have uncertain adventures to face, as long as they have each other and any major problems that came up in the book were resolved. And they don’t have to have a lot of money, as long as they aren’t poverty stricken. Enough to get by is fine if they have each other.
    I’ve read a few books that had me throwing them against the wall because of the ending, just can’t remember the titles. Usually, though, it’s movies that leave me screaming. I seem to remember feeling off about Serenity’s end. Dear Frankie had me literally jumping of the couch and screaming “NO” at the TV (good thing I watched this at home and not the theater). I don’t invest that much emotion into a book or movie and come away happy unless you show me the HEA. Mom and Frankie sitting on the pier was not enough and I already suspected that was where it was going to end. I was telling my husband “It better not end there, it better not” and then whamo! it did. IIRC, I had just watched Serenity so I got two back to back unsatisfying endings.

    Reply
  54. What kills an ending for me? When someone that has been an integral part of the story dies and we didn’t see it coming. Sure, people die. But for an HEA, let them die before the end and let us have a chance to get over it. I don’t want to end a book in mourning.
    I also want to see my couple together with all the major loose ends tied up. A minor thread wavering indecisively is fine if I know I’m going to get another book that will weave it into the tapestry. But, by jove, you’d better make sure I get that book or I’ll be screaming! They can have uncertain adventures to face, as long as they have each other and any major problems that came up in the book were resolved. And they don’t have to have a lot of money, as long as they aren’t poverty stricken. Enough to get by is fine if they have each other.
    I’ve read a few books that had me throwing them against the wall because of the ending, just can’t remember the titles. Usually, though, it’s movies that leave me screaming. I seem to remember feeling off about Serenity’s end. Dear Frankie had me literally jumping of the couch and screaming “NO” at the TV (good thing I watched this at home and not the theater). I don’t invest that much emotion into a book or movie and come away happy unless you show me the HEA. Mom and Frankie sitting on the pier was not enough and I already suspected that was where it was going to end. I was telling my husband “It better not end there, it better not” and then whamo! it did. IIRC, I had just watched Serenity so I got two back to back unsatisfying endings.

    Reply
  55. Jo, if it’s any help, I did understand that Anne didn’t particularly want to take part in Society, and that having the luxury of spending their time with archives and records is what will make them happiest. Absolutely.
    You say:
    [They’re living almost in Anne’s parents’ estate and will be there a lot. I’m sure they’ll take part in local society, and then Race has many friends as well.
    They certainly wouldn’t be outcasts if they chose to take a larger part in society. Only curiosities, and that wouldn’t bother them. But I should have made this clearer.]
    Now, I love to see this 🙂 What sticks in my head, you see, is all the warnings of how ostracised Anne will become if she marries Race. Then she marries him. Now, I know she never wanted to be the toast of the Ton, but there’s that niggling question of whether they’ll have many friends – because he’s not a real Rogue and she’s awkwardly positioned because two Rogues jilted her. She has St Raven, but while I was hoping for a cameo in his book there wasn’t one. So there was still that question in my mind.
    Your description of their life here sounds blissful for them – now, a little reference somewhere in a future novel to someone having visited them, even if there isn’t a way to engineer a cameo appearance, would make me a very happy reader 🙂
    But, as always, you’re the author. And you can never know which couples in particular readers become especially attached to and want to know more about, which suggests that you can only write what feels right to you. 🙂

    Reply
  56. Jo, if it’s any help, I did understand that Anne didn’t particularly want to take part in Society, and that having the luxury of spending their time with archives and records is what will make them happiest. Absolutely.
    You say:
    [They’re living almost in Anne’s parents’ estate and will be there a lot. I’m sure they’ll take part in local society, and then Race has many friends as well.
    They certainly wouldn’t be outcasts if they chose to take a larger part in society. Only curiosities, and that wouldn’t bother them. But I should have made this clearer.]
    Now, I love to see this 🙂 What sticks in my head, you see, is all the warnings of how ostracised Anne will become if she marries Race. Then she marries him. Now, I know she never wanted to be the toast of the Ton, but there’s that niggling question of whether they’ll have many friends – because he’s not a real Rogue and she’s awkwardly positioned because two Rogues jilted her. She has St Raven, but while I was hoping for a cameo in his book there wasn’t one. So there was still that question in my mind.
    Your description of their life here sounds blissful for them – now, a little reference somewhere in a future novel to someone having visited them, even if there isn’t a way to engineer a cameo appearance, would make me a very happy reader 🙂
    But, as always, you’re the author. And you can never know which couples in particular readers become especially attached to and want to know more about, which suggests that you can only write what feels right to you. 🙂

    Reply
  57. Jo, if it’s any help, I did understand that Anne didn’t particularly want to take part in Society, and that having the luxury of spending their time with archives and records is what will make them happiest. Absolutely.
    You say:
    [They’re living almost in Anne’s parents’ estate and will be there a lot. I’m sure they’ll take part in local society, and then Race has many friends as well.
    They certainly wouldn’t be outcasts if they chose to take a larger part in society. Only curiosities, and that wouldn’t bother them. But I should have made this clearer.]
    Now, I love to see this 🙂 What sticks in my head, you see, is all the warnings of how ostracised Anne will become if she marries Race. Then she marries him. Now, I know she never wanted to be the toast of the Ton, but there’s that niggling question of whether they’ll have many friends – because he’s not a real Rogue and she’s awkwardly positioned because two Rogues jilted her. She has St Raven, but while I was hoping for a cameo in his book there wasn’t one. So there was still that question in my mind.
    Your description of their life here sounds blissful for them – now, a little reference somewhere in a future novel to someone having visited them, even if there isn’t a way to engineer a cameo appearance, would make me a very happy reader 🙂
    But, as always, you’re the author. And you can never know which couples in particular readers become especially attached to and want to know more about, which suggests that you can only write what feels right to you. 🙂

    Reply
  58. Oh yeah, endings are one of my favorite topics. Sorry I’ve been snowed under and came late to the topic!
    I believe it’s Kathy Seidel who has a great theory on the “community get-together” at the ending, and I wholeheartedly agree, especially in romance. The couple must function within their universe, and the community thing shows where they fit into the community.
    Of course, if all readers want every detail tied down at the end of a book,and everything perfect, I’m in heap big trouble. Like Jo, I prefer giving my couples the life that suits their characters, and if they happen to be adventurous souls, well… I could send them to Tibet. “G” But I try very hard to show that they will be happy climbing mountains.
    But the timing of all those events is very very tricky. I really can’t start filling in the colors of a book until I’ve figured out how to get all those bouncing balls out of the air!

    Reply
  59. Oh yeah, endings are one of my favorite topics. Sorry I’ve been snowed under and came late to the topic!
    I believe it’s Kathy Seidel who has a great theory on the “community get-together” at the ending, and I wholeheartedly agree, especially in romance. The couple must function within their universe, and the community thing shows where they fit into the community.
    Of course, if all readers want every detail tied down at the end of a book,and everything perfect, I’m in heap big trouble. Like Jo, I prefer giving my couples the life that suits their characters, and if they happen to be adventurous souls, well… I could send them to Tibet. “G” But I try very hard to show that they will be happy climbing mountains.
    But the timing of all those events is very very tricky. I really can’t start filling in the colors of a book until I’ve figured out how to get all those bouncing balls out of the air!

    Reply
  60. Oh yeah, endings are one of my favorite topics. Sorry I’ve been snowed under and came late to the topic!
    I believe it’s Kathy Seidel who has a great theory on the “community get-together” at the ending, and I wholeheartedly agree, especially in romance. The couple must function within their universe, and the community thing shows where they fit into the community.
    Of course, if all readers want every detail tied down at the end of a book,and everything perfect, I’m in heap big trouble. Like Jo, I prefer giving my couples the life that suits their characters, and if they happen to be adventurous souls, well… I could send them to Tibet. “G” But I try very hard to show that they will be happy climbing mountains.
    But the timing of all those events is very very tricky. I really can’t start filling in the colors of a book until I’ve figured out how to get all those bouncing balls out of the air!

    Reply

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