Story crafters talk a lot about starting a story at an optimal place. As a writer, novice or seasoned, you’ve probably penned a story or two where you ended up remove a big hunk of your overly bloated beginning. I’m guilty right there with ya!
And I totally agree, in order to hook your reader and start the story off a swingin’ you absolutely must start at just the right spot to avoid either a jarring entrance that puzzles and infuriates the reader or avoid wading through those backstory-ladened first pages that put the reader into a coma before you even get to the good stuff.
The meet cute. The inciting incident. The action.
Whatever the case may be for your journey on paper.
What is talked significantly less about is where the story ends, which I have always found interesting since we all live for that Happily Ever After.
A proposal. A wedding day. A pretty bow sealed with a kiss.
But haven’t you read those books where you fight, and I mean fight to get to that HEA to discover you only get a handful of pages of “happy” to cap off hundreds of pages of torture?
Sometimes you get an Epilogue that gives you a glimpse of a happy moment down the road. And if you’re lucky, there might have been some fun moments woven into the meat of the story instead of a battle of wills and circumstances that eventually culminate in a final sweet promise of a forever we are left to imagine.
Here's a good example: Cinderella was a big deal for me growing up but I see it more as women's fiction since there are such blatant flaws in the romance angle of the story. We suffer through the story with sweet Cindy, all the horrid details of her life, her longing for more. And what do we get for our trouble? One measly dance at the ball with the prince where they barely speak to each other. Bam! LOVE? Was he that good of a dancer? Is Cinderella just a gold digger using the prince to escape her poverty? Are we supposed to be satisfied that all we see of their love story is the dance and the wedding bells at the end? The prince sends his servant with a shoe to go retrieve his prize like he's too busy polishing his own gold-tasseled loafers to seek out the woman he wants to hitch his fancy carriage to! But I digress...
Do you ever think about what happens after The End? Or do the characters cease to exist once you close the book?
I hate to admit it but I dread reading books about married people living these “so called” happily ever afters because it seems like once they’ve settled in for the long haul, the honeymoon is almost always well and truly over.
Doesn’t anyone write about happy marriages? Honestly, if I pick up a romance novel and the characters are already married in the beginning I know I’m looking at hours dealing with infidelity, neglect, or abuse. Of course there needs to be conflict to move a story along but is this what it boils down to…
-We reluctantly fall in love like we’ve contracted an unfortunate, incurable disease…
-We have a few moments of bliss (or insanity) when we give in to it just long enough to tie the knot…
-And then the story ends, or it just all disintegrates into heartbreak, lonely coexistence, regret, insecurity, betrayal, (fill in additional factors for divorce here).
Why?! Why do we stop at “And they all lived happily ever after” and never continue the story to show what we really long to see... Faithfulness, enduring passion, genuine agape love. friendship. Commitment.
Maybe it’s just me, but 90% of the stories I read make falling in love seem like a total drag and then they cap it off with a few happy smiles and sweet kisses. Are we supposed to be satisfied with that? Doesn't our happy ending exist in the chaos of walking through all the beautiful messes of life with someone we trust and desire and actually enjoy having at our side? And why is no one telling that part of the story even a little bit before they type in those last two three letter words… the end.
Tell me… have you read any stories that include this type of flourishing happily ever after for more than a chapter at the end? What’s the best HEA story you’ve read lately. We all need some fairy dust now and then. Happy Friday, Alley Pals!
Amy Leigh Simpson is a writer, singer, runner, foodie, coffee-lovin’-chocoholic. When she’s not dreaming up saucy love stories sprinkled with suspense and mystery, she’s chasing around her two adorable tow-headed toddler miscreants (Ahem)—boys, playing dress up with her miracle princess baby, and being the very blessed wife to the coolest, most hunky hero on the planet (sorry, ladies—taken). Though Amy doesn’t use her Sports Medicine degree for anything but patching up daily boo boo’s, she enjoys weaving medical aspects into her writing. Represented by the oh-so-wise and dashing Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary Inc.