Friday, June 17, 2011

Fairytale Endings - Are They for You? (and a giveaway!)

I'm a big fan of happily-ever-afters, which is a great thing with romances big in the market. Happy, satisfying endings are very popular, particularly in the CBA, but are they for everyone?

So what makes up an ending? Because, as I re-read the previous sentence with the words "happy" and "satisfying", it's becoming more and more clear that those two don't necessarily go hand-in-hand.

Characteristics of a Satisfying Ending

A Resolution

In order for readers to be satisfied with an ending, the main conflict needs to be resolved. Sure, there are people out there who still do cliffhangers, but those are few and far between (or part of a series). And not only that, each story needs to have its own resolution.

So if the main character is searching for something, they need to find it somehow. If they're lacking something, they need to gain it somehow. If there's a problem, it needs to be fixed.


Having a character experience growth is a strong and important way to satisfy readers. We all read about and learn about character arcs because they're important. Readers want to see characters in a different place at the end of the novel as they were in the beginning - and hopefully that's a better place.

A Purpose

This category sort of wraps in the first two elements of a satisfying ending and tosses in a few others. A purposeful ending is one that's well thought out. If there's a theme to your story, it can be revealed or summed up here. A purposeful ending isn't a one-page wrap up that solves all the problems of the novel without any real effort. In fact, a purposeful ending isn't always expected. In other words, it's not the easy way out. Sure, in romances certain endings are often expected (i.e. the hero and heroine make up or reunite or admit their love) but they can still stray from being cliche.

As a fan of happily-ever-afters, I like to see a story ending well--meaning, the characters are happy, they find what they're looking for spiritually, emotionally, etc., and their future looks amazing. However, those elements aren't the only ones that make up a satisfying ending for everyone.

What do you think? Are there certain elements necessary to creating a satisfying ending? And are you a fan of happily-ever-afters?

Also, if you want a chance to win, Driftwood Lane, a romance by one of my favorite authors, Denise Hunter, who always makes me smile with her happy endings, leave a comment and your e-mail.


Jillian said...

Cindy, I think all of the characteristics you listed were right on. I'm a huge fan of the happily-ever-after endings. When I read the last page of a book, I want to feel a sense of peace and happiness, not disappointment. Happy Friday!

Jennifer Shirk said...

I'm a HUGE fan of fairy tale happily ever afters!
I think that's why I really enjoy romances that follow fairy tale themes.
Well, I think for the most part, when the ending comes the reader has to be convinced that the character(s) have changed or grown from the beginning of the book in some small way so we're assured that they will have a HEA. And I love a romantic ending too!

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I can go either way on this, but I always like resolution.

You'd be proud of me, the novel I'm editing now is HEA.

All smiles and big resolution.
~ Wendy

Peaches Ledwidge said...

I do like happy endings. Maybe I won't feel satisfied, but I may like the happy ending for the main characters.

patti.mallett_pp said...

Most of all I want to see growth, with the MC making an important, positive decision about his or her future. (But I'm into YA now and that makes a difference.) I do love to have the hero and heroine end up together, after spending an entire book with them, but I'm also okay if they split, as long as the people I'm emotionally tied to are okay with it. Growth. Yes, that would be my first square to check-off. Choices can be painful and it takes strength to make the right one, and an eye that sees and faces reality... and with the future in mine.

Patsy said...

I really love for a book to have a happy ending. It's kinda like closure. I don't go away wandering what would happen at the end.


Laura S. said...

I agree with those elements for a satisfying ending. I do love happily ever afters, but I can appreciate an ending more true to life. Such as the ending to the movies "My Best Friend's Wedding" and "The Break-Up." The two MCs didn't end up together, but there was growth and purpose and it seemed a lot more real.

But I grew up during the Disney Renaissance, so I'll always prefer a happily every after ending!

Joanne Sher said...

I'm fine with happily ever after - as long as it isn't TOO perfect. The neat bow, with every issue resolved beautifully, is a bit TOO much for me - at least too much. I like endings to be at least somewhat reasonable/believable.

And despite that (LOL) go ahead and enter me for the book. joanne(at)joannesher(dot)com.

And this is a GREAT post besides :D

Faith Hope and Cherrytea said...

i'm a bit realistic, so happiness is great but not all perfectly tied up conclusion.. also, i really like a 'to be con'td' ending. then i know there's more to come, story hasn't ended and i'm left wanting more...
infuse at live dot ca
thx for post and for asking ")

Julia M. Reffner said...

I'm with Faith. I like a to be continued ending with most of the ends neatly wrapped up.

Nancye said...

I like a story with a happy ending! not necessarily sugary sweet, but one that has all the loose endings tied up and leaves you feeling satisfied.

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Jordan said...

I love happy endings, but I am okay with a cliff hanger in a series - it makes me sooo anxious to read the next one!

I agree, Denise Hunter always has fantastic happy endings. :)


Faith said...

I'm a HUGE fab of Happily Ever Afters! That's the whole reason I read an entire book!
I think it's important that the evil is defeated, or at least the immediate evil. And hope for the guy to get the girl, or even the guy getting the girl!

Please enter me
crazi.swans at gmail dot com

lgm52 said...

I love, love, love happy endings. Reading is my "take me away" time, and real life can be rough enough, without reading it, too!

Pam K. said...

I like happy endings but that may not be appropriate for all books. There should be a sense of resolution in all books, even ones that are a part of a series. If the book is well written, we will want to continue reading the series so a "cliff hanger" is not necessary. It's actually rather annoying, especially if you have to wait several months to a year for the next book to be available. I want to feel satisfied when I finish a book.
I haven't yet read a book by Denise Hunter but would love to start with Driftwood Lane.
Thanks for having a giveaway.

Pepper said...

Great post, Cindy- and a thoughtful question.
I LOVE happily-ever-after endings, but I also like fantasy, fairytale-stuff.
But a HEA is not necessary for me to enjoy the book. I PREFER happily ever after, but it all depends on the spine of the story up to the final scene as to whether I can accept the ending or want to throw the book across the room.
I'm writing my first book that does NOT have a HEA. This is a new thing for me. The ending HAS to happen the way I KNOW it is going to be, that's the only way, but it's not happy.
That's tough for me, but at the same time - it's right too.

Genre has a lot to do with it - but like you said already, so does 'satisfaction'.
Love the comments so far.

Christine Long said...

To me, the whole issue of whether a story is good or not is the ending. It doesn't have to be a "fairy-tale" ending, just a satisfying ending will all the loose ends tied up.

On the other hand, my first romantic suspense has an unusual ending. I absolutely LOVE it but was afraid of what readers would think. After 8 people have read the revised draft, the consensus is that the ending perfectly fits the book. That's what makes a good ending!

If it isn't too late, please enter me in the drawing for the book.
teaching by writing at yahoo dot com

Angie Dicken said...

I am always tempted to write a tragic ending! I don't know why. But I do love a good romance with a happy ending. Thanks for the post, Cindy! And congrats again on the new one!

Megan said...

I love a book with a happy ending, it just makes it feel complete.

lovetoread205 [at] gmail [dot] com

Leanne said...

I'd love to read this book. I love fairy tale endings. They are the best kind!

leanniegehrke at hotmail dot com