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message 1: by Stacy-Deanne (new)

Stacy-Deanne Stacy-Deanne (wwwgoodreadscomstacydeanne) Hi All,

I wanted to get the opinions of those that write general, straight romance (romance that doesn't include other genres).

How do you feel about romance books being forced to have a happy ever after ending? I've been discussing this with some of my romance writing pals who are getting tired of having to force their books to have happy endings.

I believe a book should have the ending that fits whether it's happy or not, it should make sense. But I know that the romance genre has its own guidelines. So I wondered if some of the romance authors here feel similar. Do you write happy endings no matter if it seems to fit or do you go by your own guidelines and write the ending you feel is best?

Best Wishes!

message 2: by Fiona (new)

Fiona McGier | 128 comments Speaking only for myself, I write happy endings because that's what I want to read and believe in. I want to believe my characters are happily having wonderful sex together for the rest of their lives. That's how it should be...real life presents long hours of over-working for low pay, constant pressure to pay bills, and stresses that work against love and affection. But in romance, we can find a solution to every problem faced by the heroine and hero.
(stubs toe, embarrassed to be so old-fashioned.)

message 3: by Roslyn (new)

Roslyn | 249 comments I've been reading romances for 38 years and am of the opinion that without the HEA it's not a romance. There's nothing wrong with books without happy endings, they just don't fit in the romance genre. Genre fiction has generally accepted tropes, the major one in romance is the HEA. Science fiction and mysteries have their own as well.

HEAs are not something that feels forced to me. Typically I have the beginning of the story and the end when I start writing, so I don't feel compelled to force anything.

message 4: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Wants to Read More), Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Wants to Read More) (gatadelafuente) | 7308 comments Mod
I have to agree that a HEA is expected in a romance novel, and as Roslyn said, it shouldn't feel forced. If it's feeling forced, then it probably wasn't meant to be a romance. It might be another genre, general fiction, suspense, whatever. And the expectations are very different.

I prefer happy endings across the board, but I don't put my romance genre expectations on other genres. I read a lot of horror, and most don't have particularly happy endings. I prepare myself for that and hope that some will.

message 5: by Delaney (new)

Delaney Diamond (delaney_diamond) Ditto what everyone else said. In a romance, I expect a happy ending. I write romance, so I know there must be an HEA or HFN, and it never feels forced to me. Authors can write whatever ending they want, but they must understand that without one of those two, it's not a romance.

They don't have to get married and have the picket fence with 2.5 kids, but I need to know that they will be together. In the romance genre, an HFN or HEA is mandatory.

message 6: by Arch , Mod (new)

Arch  | 6568 comments Mod
I write romance and my characters have a HEA. Romance to me, means a HEA. In a series a couple may not get a HEA until their book. For example, it took 5 books, before Sam and Alyssa have gotten their HEA.

My romance stories will always have a HEA. If a person don't like HEA, then my stories will never be for them.

message 7: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Wants to Read More), Sees Love in All Colors (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Wants to Read More) (gatadelafuente) | 7308 comments Mod
Honestly, I'm not even a fan of HFN. I like to know that the couple will stay together beyond a shadow of a doubt. I don't want them to be just dating at the end of the story. I want to see that they have made a commitment to each other.

message 8: by Dahlia (new)

Dahlia DeWinters (dahliadewinters) | 56 comments I write romance because I love the HEA. As Lady Danielle says, I'm not such a fan of the HFN. I begin my stories with the idea in mind that, no matter what roads the couple takes, they will be together in the end.

message 9: by A.M. (new)

A.M. | 349 comments I myself as a writer of romantic fiction have never felt forced or compelled to write the HEA or HFN ending. I write the story as the charters tells it to me the happy ending is understood.

Yes there are certain rules one must adhere to, but to me it's more than what some editor or publisher wants. It's the readers expectation that when they spend there money on a work that is sold under romance that is what they will get.


message 10: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Jackson (paperbackdiva) | 335 comments As a writer and a reader, I definitely prefer the HEA. I've read books that I liked intellectually, but if there was a couple and they couldn't overcome obstacles to be together, it left me frustrated with the characters and the story. If you love someone enough, you're going to do whatever it takes to be with them. That may not happen in real life all the time, but that's why I read fiction.

message 11: by Arch , Mod (new)

Arch  | 6568 comments Mod
The only time that I can't see a book having a HEA is if the book is not a romance book.

For example, Mission Impossible books or James Bond books wouldn't be romance books. The lead have a different woman in every books and movies.

message 12: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Wants to Read More), Sees Love in All Colors (last edited Nov 10, 2011 08:52AM) (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Wants to Read More) (gatadelafuente) | 7308 comments Mod
I totally agree, Andrea. That's what I don't like about James Bond, Arch!

message 13: by Chaeya (new)

Chaeya | 454 comments I agree, if you don't want a HEA, then your book is General Fiction. General Fiction gives the author much more leeway to put whatever they want into the story. There are plenty of books in general fiction that are basically "Romances", it's just that they have more dramatic twists, and the ending isn't particularly a good one. Sometimes, its flat out sad, then some are surprisingly happy.

If your friends are tired of writing happy endings, then they should simply write General Fiction for those books, and keep their happy endings in the Romance. I know it's hard because General Fiction doesn't sell as well as Romance, so they want to stay within those boundaries. But it is what it is. I read Romance to get away from the drudgery of General Fiction for a while.

I don't think it's forced, because I read Syrie James' book, "Dracula, My Love," which I picked up at the RT Convention, and that book doesn't have a happy ending. How she got around it, I don't know. It may warrant some looking into.

message 14: by Stacy-Deanne (new)

Stacy-Deanne Stacy-Deanne (wwwgoodreadscomstacydeanne) What is HFN?

message 15: by Stacy-Deanne (last edited Nov 10, 2011 02:16PM) (new)

Stacy-Deanne Stacy-Deanne (wwwgoodreadscomstacydeanne) Chaeya,

I told them to be true to themselves and write the story how they see it and whatever it turns out to fit in, that's the genre. I told one of my friends she's writing women's fiction, not romance. She said she agrees. Her characters go through a lot of grief and there is romance but she has the man dying at the end, plus other things in it stuck out as women's fiction to me. She said I had a point and so she feels better now. She knows she writes women's fiction instead of romance so she doesn't feel pressured about the ending anymore.

It can get confusing for new writers. My erotica friends say that erotica doesn't have to have a happy ending like romance. I am not sure if that's the norm but that's what they say. Maybe some erotica writers can weigh in on that.

message 16: by Stacy-Deanne (last edited Nov 10, 2011 02:07PM) (new)

Stacy-Deanne Stacy-Deanne (wwwgoodreadscomstacydeanne) I think most people get confused and think that just because there is a romance, it's a romance book. Not true. Some people forget about women's fiction or just going under the contemporary label and not calling it a romance at all.

Am I the only one who has read romances without happy endings? I remember reading some Historical romances without happy endings. In three books, the heroine ended up with a man other than the hero. I thought it was a big no-no but I guess the publishers didn't. And I believe one or maybe two were Harlequin Historicals. I love Historical romances.

I have read some romances that throw people for a loop. I've also read some interracial romances that pissed me off because the IR couple didn't end up together. I don't consider that happy ending. It's confusing, in a romance shouldn't the main couple end up together? If so, how come there are romances where this doesn't happen?

message 17: by Arch , Mod (new)

Arch  | 6568 comments Mod
HFN = Happily For Now

message 18: by Roslyn (new)

Roslyn | 249 comments @Stacy-Deanne you'd have to name the books to which you refer. I know of no romances without the HEA. A lot of books (Nicholas Sparks) are categorized as romance when they simply aren't. Erotica romance has to at least have an HFN. I don't about non-romantic erotica as I don't write or read it.

I'm not sure why someone who reads romance would be confused about the HEA. Of course I did meet one writer who decided to write a romance though she'd never read one, *smh*

message 19: by Chaeya (new)

Chaeya | 454 comments HFN = Happy for Now, which can happen in many erotic novels.

I've read as much General Fiction as I have Romance novels, and 100% of the General Fiction I've read deals with a Romance, some of them have ended happily and others not.

I know there are some books which slip through the cracks, but when they have, it's really pissed people off and for good reason, I think. The reason I buy most Romances is because I liked the hero. If I don't want to bang the hero then I won't be reading it. Some surprising endings I can deal with: (1) the hero dying; (2) the heroine ends up with the hero and another guy too - hey two's better than one; or (3) cliffhanger where they get separated, but they should get back together in the next book of the series. Syrie James' book I was preparing for a not so happy ending because we're talking about Dracula and we all know he dies in the end. But they must end up together, meaning he doesn't run off with someone else or they agree to split up. Then it's General Fiction.

I'm a rebel at heart, and I'm all for challenging rules; however, I can understand why certain rules are in place. I've listen to other authors who want to do their own thing and think they should be able to do whatever they want or make a change in the Romance genre. This is where I get a bit conservative and say: nah-uh. If one wants to be a hot rod, then stick to General Fiction. When I pick up a Romance book, I do it for the same reason a reader picks up a mystery novel or fantasy, etc. If they get tired of the rules of such, then they should branch out and read other genres. I read more Non-Fiction and General Fiction than Romance, so I don't get tired of Romance. I can appreciate the elements when I do read it.

message 20: by Stacy-Deanne (new)

Stacy-Deanne Stacy-Deanne (wwwgoodreadscomstacydeanne) Oh okay, thanks, Arch.

Roslyn, now that I think about it, those two IR books I read would be considered erotica, I suppose. I don't remember the names, they were from years ago but I remember I got upset because in both books the heroine which was black ended up with the black man instead of the white one when it had been set up like she'd end up with the white man. Maybe since it was more of erotic then it doesn't matter.

I know I've read some Historical romances (or at least I thought they were romances) where one time the woman married the man she didn't love then the hero died. Another was about a woman who loved a guy who fought in the war and another was a Barbara Taylord Bradford (that wasn't historical). I thought it was a romance but I guess maybe since it wasn't a happy ever ending it wasn't one. I can't remember the name but she had two people who fell in love, lost touch, met again years later and then the man died. *shrugging* maybe that wasn't a romance. I am not sure if Barbara's stuff is meant to be romance or not but I took that as a romantic book and it had a sad ending. Maybe I was wrong. Can't remember the name but it was written in the 1990's.

I don't remember the names of the Historicals though. I've read so many. I might be wrong, maybe they weren't Harlequin books but I do think they were pitched as romance but the heroines ended up with other men and like I said, the one about the man in the war, he died.

message 21: by Stacy-Deanne (last edited Nov 10, 2011 03:15PM) (new)

Stacy-Deanne Stacy-Deanne (wwwgoodreadscomstacydeanne) A lot of new writers don't know genres. *shrugging*. I see folks in my online writing groups asking all the time, "What genre is this?" So I have come across many who don't know what their books really are. A lot know if they are writing a mystery or fantasy but some do get confused when it comes to romance. Some people do think just because there is a romance, it's a romance but that's not the case. Some think romantic elements mean romance so I can see if they are not used to writing in certain genres how they can be confused. I already knew a book had to have HEA endings to be a romance being a writer and knowing the genres but I've heard some new writers grumbling about having to write an ending that doesn't fit. That's why they need to focus more on the book and not the genre. Just write the book then where it fits is where it fits.

message 22: by Stacy-Deanne (last edited Nov 10, 2011 03:17PM) (new)

Stacy-Deanne Stacy-Deanne (wwwgoodreadscomstacydeanne) This is the Barbara book! I remember it was hyped up as a romance. A lot of people complained because the man died. Everyone called it a love story but it ended tragically. Might be why it only has three stars, the ending. I know it upset me that the man died. She built it up like they would be together finally and he died before he could be with the woman again.

message 23: by Chaeya (new)

Chaeya | 454 comments This is what the RWA says a romance is:

Here is a good book, among the many:

message 24: by Roslyn (new)

Roslyn | 249 comments I met Barbara Taylor Bradford years ago at a signing, beautiful lady with lovely old world manners, but no, she doesn't write romance. We used to categorize her as "women's fiction" in our book store. I remember when people categorized "The Bridges of Madison County" as a romance. Uh no. Something can be a love story, but that doesn't make it a romance. A romance is a very specific category with rules. You can have a lot of leeway within those rules--certainly menage stories and the like bend the heck out of them, but you cannot get rid of the HEA.

message 25: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Jackson (paperbackdiva) | 335 comments Stacy-Deanne wrote: "This is the Barbara book! I remember it was hyped up as a romance. A lot of people complained because the man died. Everyone called it a love story but it ended tragically. Might be why it only has..."
Now, death can't be overcome in a love story, but that makes it not a romance in my opinion.

message 26: by Delaney (new)

Delaney Diamond (delaney_diamond) Chaeya, have you read Kate Walker's 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance? If not, you should take a look at it. It's really good, and I personally thought it was better than the book by Leigh Michaels.

Kate Walker's 12-point Guide to Writing Romance (Studymates) by Kate Walker

message 27: by Chaeya (new)

Chaeya | 454 comments I'll have a look at it. Thanks.

message 28: by A.C. (new)

A.C. Mason (acmason) | 17 comments Everyone has done great job covering the topic. Some of your fellow authors might be at place with their writing where they want to explore other genres, mainstream or women’s fiction. Many of my books are not listed as romance. Why? Because of the readers’ expectations, I serialize stories with threads that run through many books/novella. Romance readers want a romantically satisfying ending. That is why publishers/industry expects romance books to deliver them.

The risk of writing other genres is that author loses readership from one genre to another. Some of my readers will read all the genres I write and others stick to specific one(s).

a.c. Mason

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