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SnugglePuggle
11-23-2019, 08:04 PM
Ack. The stress of being a writer! So, here is my dilemma:

My vampire romance series. I've had this thought ever since I read this one manga online- the ending on it was memorable as the husband needed to save his pregnant wife, but in order to do so, he had to die. In which case he did. Then the comic had a bonus page where the wife is out playing with her around 5 year old son, and all of a sudden she hears "Honey!" and turns around. The End.

Since then, I've been thinking about something along those lines for my ending on my vampire series. For a little background- my male lead, throughout the whole series, is portrayed as this mega powerful vampire leader who can't be killed (by regular vampire means), and at the last book- there will be a major fight after she gives birth. A fight where he surprises everyone by his emotional protective state to protect his loved ones, but in the end- a dying enemy actually hits him with the only thing that can kill him. He dies while holding his newborn one last time.

Then, I'm thinking of an epilogue where my main female is not only trying to get through her child's fourth, maybe fifth birthday, trying to be happy for him/her, while holding her grief inside since the same birthday of her child's is also the death of her husband. And all of a sudden he comes back, and dum dum dum- The End.

I'm thinking of this way because he's like so unkillable throughout the main story, that something needs to happen in the end to cause some shock. But since I still need a HEA ending, that epilogue will close things out nicely, while still giving me some room to write some bonus books. For example #1)- book after about her struggles with a newborn and being alone, up until the time when he comes back, and #2) events after he comes back, etc etc.

My dilemma? I hate that my male lead will miss out on caring for his child as a newborn with his wife, and missing out on all the milestones as it grows. UGH. But I just can't seem to be able to put a happy ending where he kills all the enemies and survives without it being GOOD, you know?

The struggles of being a writer :( I love it but at the same time hate it LOL

LJD
11-23-2019, 09:15 PM
Well, as a romance reader, the hero being dead in the main story then suddenly showing up alive in the epilogue would not qualify as the HEA I expect from a romance novel. Frankly, it would piss the crap out of me. Note that I am not a paranormal reader though, so IDK...

But to me, the epilogue is something extra. The happy ending has to come before that.

lizmonster
11-23-2019, 09:52 PM
Worry about genre when you've made all your narrative choices. If it's a series following one couple, I'm not sure you'd pitch it as romance anyway, so what you do or don't handle in the epilogue is probably not the gating factor.

LJD
11-23-2019, 10:19 PM
I assume it is the same series mentioned in this thread... https://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?344871-What-is-the-acceptable-word-count-for-a-series&p=10601799

SnugglePuggle
11-23-2019, 10:53 PM
Ah if you read my series you would see it all comes around together nicely. Yes it is the series I talked about before as itís the only series Iím working on currently. There still is an HEA, it just comes after a major shock. I think itís a neat idea that goes against the norm but not too crazy.

SnugglePuggle
11-23-2019, 10:55 PM
Not sure what youíre getting at because a series about a couple is romance, mine is just PNR. Iím just talking about my struggles with my writing and how itís hard to keep this ending even though it seems itís the best way to go.

KBooks
11-23-2019, 11:13 PM
A quite popular PNR author has done some of those types of endings in her major vampire series, but they were not well received. In one, she had the heroine killed at the end and then she came back in the epilogue as a fully corporeal ghost. LJD's "pissed the crap out of me" is pretty much what you find on many discussion boards within that fandom. Romance readers did not consider this a HEA and felt cheated.

lizmonster
11-24-2019, 12:31 AM
PNR is still Romance[tm], yes?

SnugglePuggle
11-24-2019, 12:32 AM
A quite popular PNR author has done some of those types of endings in her major vampire series, but they were not well received. In one, she had the heroine killed at the end and then she came back in the epilogue as a fully corporeal ghost. LJD's "pissed the crap out of me" is pretty much what you find on many discussion boards within that fandom. Romance readers did not consider this a HEA and felt cheated.

I guess I'll think about it more. Although I don't want to kill my characters off totally, which would be the only way to if I decided the hero needed to die in the battle. Since the series has him as the unkillable death machine, to have him finally go protecting his loved ones felt as the best way to end the series, with the adorable shock of him coming back later. But since that doesn't seem to be well received, then killing him off forever would be the other ending, and I really hate that.

So, then, I'll have to think on a better HEA ending. Maybe- he finally ends the war, protecting his loved ones, and lives on with his wife and newborn in the safer world he created. Argh well I still have a lot to go before I get there so I'll see how it goes.

Brightdreamer
11-24-2019, 12:37 AM
Just as another thought: if this is the ending you want, and the ending the series wants... maybe you're not actually writing a romance series, or even PNR (which, as has been pointed out upthread, is still paranormal romance), but a paranormal series with romantic elements.

There would be crossover appeal, perhaps, but it would make a world of difference for marketing and audience expectations. Plus you could be true to your vision, without having to force a HEA that you don't feel will fit.

JMHO...

LJD
11-24-2019, 12:39 AM
If you really do want to do something similar to the ending you mention in the first post, I would:

1) DON'T put it in an epilogue. Make it a final chapter. (in part because if he's still dead at the end of the last chapter, some readers will fling the book across the room in rage and never even see the epilogue)
2) Have a full scene once he comes back. Not simply "ooh, look who's here. the end." (not quite sure what you were intending) Show him in the heroine together for a few pages.

lizmonster
11-24-2019, 12:47 AM
I think you should write it however you feel the story needs to be written, and I think you should think long and hard before you spin it to people as romance.

LJD
11-24-2019, 12:52 AM
Not sure what you’re getting at because a series about a couple is romance, mine is just PNR. I’m just talking about my struggles with my writing and how it’s hard to keep this ending even though it seems it’s the best way to go.

I assume lizmonster is talking about the fact that you have a single couple's romance spanning several books, which is similar to the concerns I mentioned in the previous thread. Not that this is never done, but finishing a couple's romance in a single book is more common and probably an easier sell...assuming adult romance.

I am still not 100% convinced on the genre and marketing category. You also used, I believe, entirely YA books as comparisons and your SYW sample appears to show teenagers? Which...can't really be sold in the adult romance genre, though you have reservations about it being YA.

Also, all the series you mentioned started 12+ years ago and are not necessarily indicative of what is currently being sold to publishers and how something would currently be pitched.

KBooks
11-24-2019, 12:59 AM
Or maybe write the books exactly as you wish to write them? Maybe they're just not PNR? Sarah J Maas used plot devices similar to this (twice) in one of her series, killing and immediately reviving first the heroine in the first book, then the hero in the third book of the trilogy. That series is Fantasy, but anyone who reads it would argue it has extremely strong romantic themes. However it is not genre romance. I think that was the issue with the first series I described... when readers pick up a romance, there are very specific genre expectations.

SnugglePuggle
11-24-2019, 01:11 AM
I assume lizmonster is talking about the fact that you have a single couple's romance spanning several books, which is similar to the concerns I mentioned in the previous thread. Not that this is never done, but finishing a couple's romance in a single book is more common and probably an easier sell...assuming adult romance.

I am still not 100% convinced on the genre and marketing category. You also used, I believe, entirely YA books as comparisons and your SYW sample appears to show teenagers? Which...can't really be sold in the adult romance genre, though you have reservations about it being YA.

Also, all the series you mentioned started 12+ years ago and are not necessarily indicative of what is currently being sold to publishers and how something would currently be pitched.


Ahem, as I mentioned before, a couple's romance is VERY COMMON in spanning multiple books. Even if they are YA.

My sample only shows the first chapter, which also is a bit of a foreshadow of what had happened to my ML. The next chapter is seven years later, where she's a 23-year old adult. The book follows her story at that time. And of course, as you read above, I talk about the ending of my series, where she's a married woman and has a child, therefore very adult romance.

I get that they say to start with a novel as a one standing book when you're going to pitch it, but that doesn't mean I need to stop writing my characters. I have a lot more for them than just one book.

So right now, my whole series is a PNR adult romance category. Just apparently people don't want an uncommon ending, it seems like.

SnugglePuggle
11-24-2019, 01:16 AM
Or maybe write the books exactly as you wish to write them? Maybe they're just not PNR? Sarah J Maas used plot devices similar to this (twice) in one of her series, killing and immediately reviving first the heroine in the first book, then the hero in the third book of the trilogy. That series is Fantasy, but anyone who reads it would argue it has extremely strong romantic themes. However it is not genre romance. I think that was the issue with the first series I described... when readers pick up a romance, there are very specific genre expectations.

Eh. Maybe, although I always considered my series to be PNR. But thinking back on each book I've written so far, I have pretty much equal amounts of fantasy themes and romance, with some of the endings contributing to fantasy (first book she's being sacrificed in a witch ritual, which he saves her as her heart stops)- second one a big werewolf group is going after him this time and are using her as bait, etc etc. So maybe my series might be more fantasy with strong romance. Argh. I don't know.

I guess now I need to decide which ending I really want to do.

SnugglePuggle
11-24-2019, 01:21 AM
If you really do want to do something similar to the ending you mention in the first post, I would:

1) DON'T put it in an epilogue. Make it a final chapter. (in part because if he's still dead at the end of the last chapter, some readers will fling the book across the room in rage and never even see the epilogue)
2) Have a full scene once he comes back. Not simply "ooh, look who's here. the end." (not quite sure what you were intending) Show him in the heroine together for a few pages.

I started to think that as well. Take out the epilogue and put in a last chapter where she starts the day trying to make happy memories with her son/daughter (not spoiling that) and then goes to the field where he "died," setting up a memorial and just talking out loud at how she loves him and misses him while her child plays around her- and then he comes up with a cheeky line of some sort- then after they reunite, spend some days together as well before an ending.

lizmonster
11-24-2019, 01:26 AM
So right now, my whole series is a PNR adult romance category. Just apparently people don't want an uncommon ending, it seems like.

I'd be more inclined to pitch it as F (or UF) with strong romantic elements.

I'm not manufacturing issues here. I have a book that was erroneously marketed as a romance, and you can bet it made a difference, and not a good one. Nailing your genre (and sometimes subgenre) will give your book the best possible chance of success.

Roxxsmom
11-24-2019, 02:41 AM
Lizmonster is right. It's important to get the genre right. Where a book is shelved in bookstores, and where it pops up in Amazon will make a huge difference in whether the right kind of readers can find it.

Romance genre readers do have pretty specific things they are looking for. So do mystery readers (the mystery must be solved at the end), and historical fiction readers (less tolerance for anachronisms and historical inaccuracies than readers of other genre stories in historical settings) and so on.

Actually, SF and F are broader and more forgiving of overlap and departures from expectations than many other genres in terms of what is "allowed," but within those genres, there are numerous subgenres with their own "rules." Lizmonster is right, your story may actually be an UF instead of a PNR. Many UFs also have strong romantic subplots, but there is more leeway about the directions the story can go and in how the relationships develop and so on.

Unimportant
11-24-2019, 02:45 AM
As others have said: you can end a book any way you want, as long as A) the entire book drives the story to that particular ending, and B) it satisfies the readers. It's not that readers don't want an uncommon ending; it's that romance readers read for a HEA, the same way mystery readers want to see a mystery get solved.

For romance as a genre, where a HEA or HFN is not negotiable, it could theoretically work, as long as you manage both A and B and the two characters do indeed get their HEA.

I reckon that the more uncommon the ending, or the more the ending pushes the boundaries of readers' expectations, the harder it is to pull off, so the more skilled and experienced the author needs to be.

I don't know your background: if you have a lot of books published and a huge following of readers, then it's probably worth a go. If you are a new author and are planning to query agents with a multi-book series, then it really doesn't matter at this point how the last book ends -- get the first book and the series sold to a publishing house, and then work with your agent and editor over the next several years to figure out how to finish off the final book. If you're a new author and plan to SP, I'd suggest erring on the side of caution; save pushing the envelope until you've become established.

Editing to add: And if, as folks above have noted, this series isn't a romance at all, then it's not an issue as long as your story elements and plot fit in with the expectations of whatever genre your series actually is.

LJD
11-24-2019, 08:06 AM
Ahem, as I mentioned before, a couple's romance is VERY COMMON in spanning multiple books. Even if they are YA.

My sample only shows the first chapter, which also is a bit of a foreshadow of what had happened to my ML. The next chapter is seven years later, where she's a 23-year old adult. The book follows her story at that time. And of course, as you read above, I talk about the ending of my series, where she's a married woman and has a child, therefore very adult romance.

I get that they say to start with a novel as a one standing book when you're going to pitch it, but that doesn't mean I need to stop writing my characters. I have a lot more for them than just one book.

So right now, my whole series is a PNR adult romance category. Just apparently people don't want an uncommon ending, it seems like.


The reason I was pushing it is, like some other posters, I wonder if F/UF with strong romantic elements is a closer fit, in part because the series that come to mind with romances that span multiple books like that are UF. (Yes, there are definitely many series with a romance across multiple books, but many of these are not shelved as Romance. Some are, but many aren't.) Plus if you don't necessarily want a traditional HEA/HFN ending... UF and PNR can be closely related with overlapping audiences, and I think readers are not always aware of which one a given series is.

If your book more or less starts when she's 23, then it's not YA, cool, I had just been wondering if perhaps romances spanning multiple books were common in YA, hence my questioning about that.

So what series in the past 5 years are most similar to yours, and how are they categorized?