If you write Romance inevitably you hear: “Why do you write that fluff? It’s all happy endings and no plot. You could do better.”
I typically laugh it off and say, “Well, I started out writing a murder mystery, but then my hero met the heroine.”
Despite the cheerful reply, though, the implication that writing happy endings somehow requires less effort or less talent grates on me like stop-and-go traffic. I can’t speak for every author, but for me finding a HEA that is believable and true to the characters is a huge, exciting challenge.
For example, my current book TIES THAT BIND could just as easily been a tragedy. The hero, AEDAN ap OWEN, idles at angry, tends to act-out rather than think through his actions, and misuses his magical abilities for his own gain. Each time he fails to consider the consequences, he is deeper into a quagmire of treason and murder. I wasn’t sure that even I—the author—had the ability to save him.
My heroine, TESS, LADY of BRIDSWELL, also makes choices that put her on the edge between gain and loss, happiness and heartache.
And it’s this precipice—the knowledge that the story could go either way—that makes writing romance such a challenge and so much fun. The Happy Ever After has to make sense. It has to come from the characters and the plot in a natural, logical way that readers accept. Otherwise, they hurl the book against the wall.
The happy ever after in TIES THAT BIND happened because my characters managed to grow and change. The story’s tension is created by mistakes, thoughtless actions and genuine differences between my characters. It’s not obvious how the conflict will be resolved—and it shouldn’t be.
The tension, conflict and not knowing how it will be resolved are what make a good book good.
So with each book, I set myself a challenge. Make the conflict deeper, the stakes higher, the HEA more impossible—and then find a way to get my characters there in a natural, logical way that makes everyone happy.