To Be or Not to Be? by Catherine Anne Collins

***First of all, many thanks to Romance Junkies for allowing me to be their guest blogger for the day.

 To be or not to be?  That is the question.

What question, you ask.  Well, let me explain in more detail.  To be or not to be happy? Do you, as a reader, require a Happily Ever After? When I did a search on the internet for this question I was astounded at the controversy and in-depth explanations people give of this very subject. The general concensus is that romance has to have an HEA, but there are wide and varied opinions as to what constitutes a happy ending.  According to some, the hero and heroine don’t necessarily have to end up together at the end of the story.  These people enjoy reading about the emotional roller-coaster ride of relationships and love, but have no problem with the h/h ending up seperate at the end.  In fact, they love a good cry.  Other readers insist upon a happy ending, they want to be left feeling good and walk away from a book with a smile on their face.

So why the difference in opinions?  Does it have to do with personality types?  Could your astrological sign influence your desire for HEA or HFN (happy for now)?  Do you want the outcome to be a reflection of your own life, or are you reading to escape your own life?  Do you need things written in black and white, or are you okay with an open ending where you can fill in the blanks yourself?

My husband and I own a martial arts center and I see kind of the same thing when teaching our students.  Some of them need exact details: how, what, why, when, how fast, how slow, how hard.  They are true technicians who need specifics and don’t do well when you tell them it depends as much on the energy of the person coming at you.  How fast that person is coming, how long their legs are, are they righthanded, lefthanded, kicking, punching, spinning, short, tall…it all comes into play.  The more creative people deal well with this and adapt easily to the intangible aspect of the martial arts.  In this case, it’s so much a personality thing.  I’ve gotten so that I can know a person’s job and their astrological sign and tell you what teaching approach they’ll need on the floor.  I’d be curious to know if the same technique applies to people who need the HEA and those who don’t.

 Now, that brings me to my next question.  As a writer, (I know some of you reading this are writers), do you need to write an HEA ending?  Are you comfortable splitting up the hero and heroine to live seperate lives, or, even worse, killing one of them off and leaving the other one grieving for what could have been.

What do I like to read and write, you ask?  I could tell you to buy my books and find out, but I know you’re all going to do that anyway 🙂  You can do that here:  My two latest releases finaled in the 2009 Independent Book Publishers Awards and are both great reads.  I have to admit, though, that A Witch’s Lament is garnering the most attention because of the Salem witch theme.  It seems to be a subject that interests a lot of people. 

To Be or Not to Be? by Catherine Anne Collins

Okay, self-promotion over, I’ll answer the question.  I’m a true believer in a happy ending.  I have to put a book down or walk away from a movie feeling good.  There’s far too much sadness, pain, gore, and anger in the world.  Why not feed the good?  After all, what you put out there, not only comes back at you, but can influence others.  I would rather make someone feel happy than make them cry.  It might not be reality, it might not mirror day to day life, but what the heck, I’m the writer, I can make anything I want happen in my books. 🙂

 So, tell me, what do you think?

Catherine Anne Collins

8 Responses to To Be or Not to Be? by Catherine Anne Collins

  1. Guestauthor

    Hi, all. Just got home from work so figured I better check in and see what’s happening.

    Good points made by all today, thanks to everyone who read my post and left a comment.

    I’m still a proponent of HEA and probably always will be, but having said that, I do read general fiction and mainstream that don’t focus on romance, so they don’t necessarily have a hero and heroine to bring together by the end of the story. But the ending still needs to leave me feeling good.

    I have a confession to make…not about books, but movies. I have never watched Titanic. I know the ending, I know I’ll feel terrible when it’s over, so why put myself through all that.

    Oh, well, it’s been a long day. Lots of baby goats to deliver and feed at work, writing that needed doing and then my own goats to take care of. I’m tired, but so glad to have been here today.

    Have a great night,

  2. Mia Cherish

    Happy endings are essential to me. If the “good guys” don’t win (or, at least, vanquish the “bad guys” or something else happens to give “Baddie” his/her come-uppance) I feel cheated.

    I’m “old school” when it comes to romance, but I do understand that, particularly in contemporary fiction, traditional HEA is not always possible or realistic. That doesn’t mean a story can’t have a satisfactory conclusion in context with its content.

    I’m okay with “neutral” endings in a series. A well-written “neutral” ending book can keep me hanging on to read the next installment.

    Tragic endings just aren’t for me. Sorry, if I paid $X and invested X hours in following a storyline, I want my warm-fuzzies at the end (romance) or I want the monster dead/neutralized (horror).

  3. Pam Keener

    I love to read a variety of books. I would love a HEA ending but I also want it to be realistic not fairytalish (I know not a word but I hope you get the gist.) I also will cry for love lost or love realized too late.
    Love & Hugs,

  4. catslady

    Actually I remember books without the HEA more. I like a variety of endings and actually don’t want the predictability of always having a HEA. I think I’m in the minority though lol.

  5. Guestauthor

    Very interesting comments for so early in the morning. I’m not sure I’ll function so well, but here goes.

    Mary, you make an excellent point about not necessarily having a HEA, but giving the reader some satisfaction while leaving it open for a sequel. Are you sure you’re not a writer? Maybe marketing or promotions? It’s a very valid point.

    Marlene, I agree with you about making the characters work for it, but in the end having the happily ever after. But the question always remains that if the characters are not meant for each other and find that out over the course of the story, would you as a reader believe that they even are living happily together once you close the pages of that book? Does that question even make sense, because I’m afraid I might need some of that caffeine Mary was mentioning.

  6. susan leech

    I like happy ever after books the best but in some cases if the book ends with a note of showing the plot has shown improvement or success in some way I can accept that as well. Romance books ..surly needs happy endings . susan L.

  7. Marlene

    Hi Cathy,

    I find the ongoing struggles and twists in a novel add dimension to the story. Even so, when I pick up a romance, I like to know where its going. If I’ve had a hard day with work and the kids, I like to put my feet up and get my does of HEA. Feel free to make them work for the HEA, but give it up in the end.

    Great blog.

  8. Mary

    An HEA…I do not find it absolutely necessary. A HFN…better. A book that ends with accomplishments in the story line, despite an HEA, would bring applause from me. I am not a writer, nor am I a romance reader. When I read fiction, I love stories based on the pioneer period of life, stories that are imbedded with factual information. Based on the books that I have not wanted to put down, an HEA was absolutely not necesssary. And here’s the thing, if you end a book with a bit of satisfaction in the story (not necessarily happily ever after), but with enough mystery involved in the character’s ongoing “life story,” a sequel could really be a hot item! Love the post, Cathy!!! Makes a person think…and I need to go pour more coffee this AM. 🙂

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