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Judg
09-30-2009, 10:17 AM
In my current WIP, I've got two young people falling desperately, passionately in love. (Living in their heads has been a very intense experience. Whew.) I've tried to really get their experience across to the reader. Thing is, this isn't a romance. They're not going to get a Happily Ever After. Political considerations are going to get in the way until they'll have no choice but to call it off themselves.

Assuming I've done anything near a competent job of getting readers to invest in these two, are they going to hate my guts when she basically tells him it's over and he perfectly understands it, even while it's ripping both of them into shreds? Or should I throw them a shred of consolation, hinting that maybe, just maybe, the relationship could become possible in the future? The future lying somewhere beyond the end of this particular novel.

I'm not there in my writing yet, but I have a nasty habit of making things difficult for myself (you try writing Christian fantasy and then make a believer the bad guy...) and I'm wondering if maybe I'm overdoing it a bit. Or a lot.

MacAllister
09-30-2009, 10:25 AM
I think it's generally easier to go back and smooth and tame something that went a little wild than it is to go back and write it more raw, more fierce and more true.

Just my two cents. Go with the story you've got to tell, just as honestly and as fiercely as you can. If you need to nice it up later, worry about that bridge when you get to it.

katiemac
09-30-2009, 10:30 AM
I like stories that tell the truth. If it's true to the characters that they can't make it work, so be it.

cscarlet
09-30-2009, 10:34 AM
I think you should refrain from trying to decide now, and let the characters decide for themselves when they get there.

If it's important for them to believe in a future which might reignite their love, then tell the story. If they really are at peace with the decision when it comes, then go with that. They'll tell you what to do ;)

(this coming from the girl who outlines the heck out of everything... meh.)

Judg
09-30-2009, 10:38 AM
Ah, this makes sense to me.

Can't help but feel sorry for the two of them though. They're so giddily happy right now...

Wayne K
09-30-2009, 10:39 AM
I like real life, and that's real. The older I get the more I hate happily ever after all of the time. Give me a villain who wins in the end or a relationship that doesn't work out. Give me a guy who says "Do what you want to the girl, just don't hurt me." (Okay kidding there) I tend to identify with it more, even if I don't like the result.

panda
09-30-2009, 10:40 AM
In my current WIP, I've got two young people falling desperately, passionately in love.

You had me there, lol. :)

(Living in their heads has been a very intense experience. Whew.) I've tried to really get their experience across to the reader. Thing is, this isn't a romance. They're not going to get a Happily Ever After. Political considerations are going to get in the way until they'll have no choice but to call it off themselves.

Assuming I've done anything near a competent job of getting readers to invest in these two, are they going to hate my guts when she basically tells him it's over and he perfectly understands it, even while it's ripping both of them into shreds? Or should I throw them a shred of consolation, hinting that maybe, just maybe, the relationship could become possible in the future? The future lying somewhere beyond the end of this particular novel.

I'm not there in my writing yet, but I have a nasty habit of making things difficult for myself (you try writing Christian fantasy and then make a believer the bad guy...) and I'm wondering if maybe I'm overdoing it a bit. Or a lot.

One of my favorite books and films is the English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. Which is strange because usually I shy away from sad endings, life can be pretty sad without also spilling into fiction.

If it is a romance, then yeah the reader may feel slightly cheated. That said, a story shouldn't shoved into a box until it fits a genre's expectations. I would rather read something sad that resonates, than something happy that's flat.

Also, didn't Nicholas Sparks write something similar with a 'Walk to Remember' That has a sad ending. Sometimes, the sad endings are what make them memorable, like Casablanca.

Judg
09-30-2009, 10:43 AM
Katie, left to themselves, they could make it work. But they aren't being left to themselves. When you're a queen, geopolitical considerations can impose themselves. And when the "consideration" is a civil war, there's only one ethical thing to do. Unfortunately, they didn't see it coming. They thought they had a love match that had the bonus of being politically expedient. But circumstances had other ideas. (I absolutely refuse to take responsibility for this. I'm just the writer.)

Judg
09-30-2009, 10:49 AM
Thanks for all the encouragement, people. I agree that if it were a romance, it would probably be taking too big a risk. Seeing as it's a fantasy (which is going to feel more like a historical) I have a little more wiggle room.

Mac, I really like what you have to say there. It rings true.

Panda, you're also right that sometimes a sad ending is the one that fits and makes the story memorable. I hope I'll be able to pull this off.

katiemac
09-30-2009, 10:55 AM
Katie, left to themselves, they could make it work. But they aren't being left to themselves. When you're a queen, geopolitical considerations can impose themselves. And when the "consideration" is a civil war, there's only one ethical thing to do. Unfortunately, they didn't see it coming. They thought they had a love match that had the bonus of being politically expedient. But circumstances had other ideas. (I absolutely refuse to take responsibility for this. I'm just the writer.)

Oh yeah, that works, too. External/internal factors apply to the truth and realism about the characters. I'd be more irritated if they got together in the end based on false or manipulated pretenses than if they stayed apart due to legitimate reasons. Plus, you can't go wrong with a little self-sacrifice.

sunandshadow
09-30-2009, 11:11 AM
I like real life, and that's real. The older I get the more I hate happily ever after all of the time. Give me a villain who wins in the end or a relationship that doesn't work out. Give me a guy who says "Do what you want to the girl, just don't hurt me." (Okay kidding there) I tend to identify with it more, even if I don't like the result.
Funny, I feel just the opposite. The older I get, the less patience I have for unhappy endings, because real life is so awful it's the last thing we need more of in the fiction which is supposed to be our escape, encouragement, and example of how things could be.

Salis
09-30-2009, 11:19 AM
Funny, I feel just the opposite. The older I get, the less patience I have for unhappy endings, because real life is so awful it's the last thing we need more of in the fiction which is supposed to be our escape, encouragement, and example of how things could be.

And we come full circle. Someone will hate one way, and someone will love it.

I think this is one of those situations where writing what you personally enjoy/empathize with is the way to go. No matter what you do, someone will be upset. Might as well go with what is authentic to you.

James D. Macdonald
09-30-2009, 11:22 AM
Go, rent or buy the movie Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (dir. John Huston; Robert Mitchum, Deborah Kerr). Watch it. You may find an answer.

Or, this answer: Be honest with your characters, let them be honest with you. Happy endings with wedding bells and bunnies and kittens and rainbows are not required.

Ruv Draba
09-30-2009, 12:08 PM
Macs 1 and 2 nailed it. Write the characters strong. Write them true. Tear their masks off. I don't think backing off conflict ever improved a story, though sometimes adding balance does.

Cassiopeia
09-30-2009, 12:13 PM
I'm wondering what genre this fits in, because in my mind, romance can end with NOT Happily Ever After.

Right? So your story has an element of romance in it?

I agree that you should just write it and then come back and smooth over the rough edges. I have complete faith in your ability to do it. :)

Raphee
09-30-2009, 01:03 PM
I would feel cheated if you made them live happily ever after, just because you thought it would be nice.
Go with the story that rings true.

kaitie
09-30-2009, 04:44 PM
I like real life, and that's real. The older I get the more I hate happily ever after all of the time. Give me a villain who wins in the end or a relationship that doesn't work out. Give me a guy who says "Do what you want to the girl, just don't hurt me." (Okay kidding there) I tend to identify with it more, even if I don't like the result.

Ditto. ;)

JennW
09-30-2009, 05:33 PM
Be honest and true. If it doesn't work out, so be it. Happy ending is not required all the time.

cbenoi1
09-30-2009, 05:52 PM
> Also, didn't Nicholas Sparks write something similar with a 'Walk to Remember' That has a sad ending.

Huh? There is a passage 2/3 through where the MC says "It would need a miracle to save her." And then the very last sentence "Oh, and I forgot to tell you something: I do believe in miracles." It's more like a hopeful ending than a sad one.

It may actually be a soft landing ending idea for Judg's WIP. Something can make the conditions of the separation vanish (i.e. whatever political winds each MC is riding turns about), and leaves the reader guessing how it really ends. It's not HEA, nor a brutal ending either.

-cb

Strange Days
09-30-2009, 06:05 PM
The hint of possible good future after a rather sad ending already was utilized in "Gone with the Wind"- and all too well...
I would think- just make it as depressing as only possible. That would sell well...

motormind
09-30-2009, 06:51 PM
In my current WIP, I've got two young people falling desperately, passionately in love. (Living in their heads has been a very intense experience. Whew.) I've tried to really get their experience across to the reader. Thing is, this isn't a romance. They're not going to get a Happily Ever After. Political considerations are going to get in the way until they'll have no choice but to call it off themselves.

Assuming I've done anything near a competent job of getting readers to invest in these two, are they going to hate my guts when she basically tells him it's over and he perfectly understands it, even while it's ripping both of them into shreds?


Uh. Who cares? Just write our story as you see fit.

firedrake
09-30-2009, 06:56 PM
Yea, Mac's right. I read another post of yours yesterday where you said you were 'suffering' from the opposite of writer's block. Just roll with it, to me, that's the best state of mind for a writer to be in.

When I'm in situations like this, I find the characters take on a life of their own and the story writes itself, you may be surprised with how it ends!

Go for it.

maestrowork
09-30-2009, 06:57 PM
I agree with these fine folks: follow the characters. And like Mac said, it's easier to go back and pare things down than to go back and find that raw passion during rewrite.

Tara Stone
09-30-2009, 07:46 PM
Right away I can think of one book series and one TV series that did something like that and made it work. I don't think the fans hated the creator(s) for it in either case. And I'm sure there are more.

CaroGirl
09-30-2009, 08:11 PM
If you're not writing a romance, and you're not, it doesn't matter if the love story ends happily or tragically, or even amicably, since that's not the entire point of the story. It's part of it and the characters go through it, but it's not what your story centres around.

My WiP is a love story, but ultimately a tragic one. So, not a romance either and not marketed as such. Write the characters as you see them and worry about the rest in draft 2. You might be surprised at how well it works.

RedScylla
09-30-2009, 09:39 PM
I'm into extremes. I either want the happy ending or I want you to break my heart hard. Make me cry at the end and I won't feel cheated.

Judg
09-30-2009, 10:16 PM
LOL. I hope somebody will cry over it. I'm not really thinking seriously about changing the ending, because that would really change the entire point of the story. I was more wondering if I should hold out a wee bit of hope. But it is very essential that the couple have no hope at all, at least when they actually call it quits.

BenPanced
09-30-2009, 10:25 PM
Follow your characters and write an honest ending. Your readers will know if you didn't and will be more upset than if it had an unhappy ending.