Monday, November 8, 2010
A Happy Ending is Worth its Weight in Gold
When asked why I write , I always give the same answer - there are not enough happy endings in the world. And I mean it. Call me a Pollyanna. I like my rose-colored glasses. That’s not to say I don’t live in reality, I can assure you that I do, but when I want to relax and unwind, I want to read or watch a good love story. I want the same thing when I write. “Once upon a time” is one of my favorite phrases in fiction, right up there with “And they lived happily ever after”.
I want to experience the hero and heroine falling in love, going through all the relationship firsts, and struggling to be together against all odds (the more substantial the odds the better). I want to know that no matter what their love will conquer all. They will triumph in the end. They will get their reward and so will I as a faithful reader. Or when I’m writing, I can get the same thrill my characters do when my hero and heroine achieve their Happily Ever After (HEA).
With hard economic times, lots of pessimism out there, too much stress and too much work, who needs a book or a movie where the hero or heroine dies, someone gets maimed or the villain wins in the end.
I want to smile, to laugh, to cry “good” tears. I want that “damn, that was good” feeling ala Joan Wilder in Romancing the Stone. I refuse to read a wall-banger because “everyone else is reading it” or wish I had watched the news instead of the latest film meant to make me “think.” After a hard day at work with only a few moments to manage my personal life each day, do I really want to use my limited free time to get depressed at how harsh life can be? I would rather eat a bucket full of broken glass, thank you very much.
That being said, I like it best when our favorite characters earn their happy ending. Characters that are flawed, get a few bumps along the way, and have to wrestle some internal as well as external demons along the way.
A heroine does not have to be pure as the driven snow when she meets our hero, but she does have to worthy of falling in love with, worth the struggle he must endure to win her heart, not to mention to overcome the obstacles in their path. She must be strong, smart and courageous in her own right, helping the hero (even if begrudgingly at times) at every turn throughout the course of the story. Dim bulbs need not apply.
The hero can be a jerk on his way to redemption, but he can’t be a heel forever. Wounded alpha-males trying to prove they don’t need anyone only to find out they most certainly do are among my favorites, but so are the Everyman beta-types finding their true calling on the way to saving the world, who also can’t believe they finally found the one girl who "gets" them.
With all the ups and downs in life, a good love story can give us all some comfort – a proverbial port in the storm. So, as we hunker down for winter and the days are bleak outside in New England, remember a happily ever after has the power to chase your troubles away – if only for a day.