And they lived happily ever after… by Jess Dee
Don’t you love the ending of a good romance? That wonderful finish, when you close the book with a long, wispy sigh of satisfaction. That for me, makes a book worth reading. The Aaaahhhh factor.
I love that last scene. I love the way the uphill battle suddenly evens out, and everything the hero and heroine fought so hard for or against suddenly amounts to everything. I love the sense that the characters know they have fallen in love forever, they have found their happy ever after.
Writing a romance is just the same. While working on the manuscript, I may not know what the hero and heroine will go through to be together, or what challenges they have to endure to prove their love for each other, but I do know they’ll get there in the end. They’ll make it. I know exactly how the last scene in the book will play out. After all I’m a romance writer. I do it for the happy ever after.
So why, why am I struggling so much with my current manuscript? I know the end. Heck, I knew it before I started the book. I have played the final chapter in my head so many times, I could direct it as a Broadway production.
I just can’t put it into words.
Do you have any idea how many times I have started and deleted this scene? How many times I’ve sat down to write it, and worked on something else altogether? Do you know how many books I’ve read in two weeks, trying to find inspiration to pen the last paragraphs of the manuscript? I think perhaps I should have written a paper on the art of procrastination instead, for I have certainly mastered it.
Have you ever read a book that you love so much, you find yourself reading a little slower than usual? You find yourself putting off reaching that final page, because afterwards, the book is finished—and then what will you do? You don’t want the book to end.
I once received a review for a book (Photo Opportunity, by Marina at Cupid’s Library), and one of the things she said was: “The absolute cherry on top is the ending that I must have re-read five times not wanting to let the characters go.”
Well, maybe that’s what I’m going through. Maybe I just don’t want to finish this manuscript because then I’ll have to say goodbye to the characters. It’s tough letting go. I’ve known the hero of this book for two years now. I know what he’s gone through to get his woman. Yes, I want them to have their happiness. They sure do deserve it—but how can I not be there to help them anymore? To guide them? How can I let them go off and make it by themselves? I’ll miss them too much.
I guess I have what is the writer’s equivalent to empty nest syndrome. My characters are preparing to leave home and make it on their own. I know I have no choice. I have to let them leave. Perhaps, when I’ve readied myself emotionally for the separation, I’ll finally be able to get that last scene down in words.
Until then, I’m off to read another love story (or four). I’m putting off the inevitable—saying goodbye. My characters will get their happy ever after, I promise. Just as soon as I’m ready to let them go.
Well here’s a spanner in the works. I finished the book!!! But guess what? They couldn’t get their happy ever after. They have to make do with a happy for now. (Urgh-stop throwing tomatoes at me.) You know, for Steve and Pen, it’s the right thing. They are both utterly satisfied with their ending. (And I’m thinking the reader will be to.)
Fortunately for me, now I start with rewrites and edits, so I don’t have to let go of my characters just yet. In fact, this is the part I like best: Making the hero and heroine the best that they can be.
Teoh, Sami, Lindy, RJ and Cherie, thanx for your comments. For me, in the end, it is all about the characters. They absolutely have to feel like a part of my real life. If they do, then I know the readers will feel the same. I guess that’s the most I could hope for as a writer – that the readers will miss the characters when they’re finished the book
I love books where the characters start feeling so real they feel like real friends. Those are books to cherish.
Series books are my favorite. I love to see how the hero/heroine from the last book are doing while we get to know another main set of characters. And the HEA is a must for me, I don’t feel satisfied if there is not a Happily Ever After
I love books that make me feel like that. Now I’m REALLY looking forward to yours!
I love the endings that move me to tears or that make me jump in the air and yell ‘yes!’. My husband usually comes running in from another room to ask what’s wrong. When I say ‘the ending of this book was really good’ he looks at me like I’ve lost my mind. But this is the man who, when he finishes a book, closes it, says ‘that was pretty good’, turns out the light and goes straight to sleep.
I’m sure your ending will be fabulous Jess, but I sympathise with the trouble you’re having writing it. It’s the trying to get it perfect thing, and the letting go thing ganging up on you. The words will come at the right time.
Yupe, just got to love those series. But when the last book comes around, it makes it that much harder to let go! Especially if it’s about a hero/heroine that we have been supporting throughout the series and wishing for him/her to have a happy ending all their own!
Oh, Ladies thank you for your comments!
Susam: Thanx for oyur lovely comments. 🙂
Robyn and Jenn: I’m with you on sequels. I also love them. I get great pleasure from finding out the characters from the book before are indeed getting their happy ever after. I think it works in reverse for me when I’m writing. I discover secondary characters in my books who demand their own stories. (This book I blogged about is a prime example: A secondary character, who from the minute I introduced him, told me he had his own tale to tell.)
Jenyfer: GOOD LUCK! I hope you get those words written down. I commiserate with you.
I know *exactly* what you’re going through – been there, DOING that!!! I know what’s going to happen next in my head, but somehow sitting down and writing it out is another matter altogether.
Ooohh Robin I agree. Series books let you revisit those characters your grow to love and I just love it when I can read something that makes me feel like I’m checking in on old friends.
As a reader I guess you never really understand how attached a writer becomes to a story until you read something like this.
Thanks Jess for giving us a little glimpse of how it all comes together for you.
Those are the best types of books – when you know that you will miss the characters as if they were old friends moving too far away to visit. I think that’s why I love series books so much because the author often gives you a small peek into the lives of former characters so you feel as if you’ve been given an update on their lives. That way, you don’t have to completely let your favorites go…at least not forever.
I’ve read books like that and only hope someone finds my books as good. I’m sure you’ll finish that middle. After all, how can we enjoy the happy ending if they didn’t have to really work to get there. Have a lovely Monday. I loved your article.