Tidy Endings By: Shannyn Schroeder
As romance readers, we all have expectations about the endings of the books we read. We expect for the guy to get the girl every time; we expect no one we really care about is going to die; we expect (demand) a HEA or at least a HFN. We read romance because we expect these things. It’s not that I can’t appreciate other books that don’t offer HEA. I read The Lovely Bones, which was beautifully written. But it tore my heart out. I read Hunger Games before taking my son to see the movie and cried my way through it.
Beyond the expectation of the HEA, what about the other parts of the plot? Do you as a reader want everything tied up and neatly explained? (I’m not referring to the popular cliff hanger books – that’s a totally different beast). To me, it never mattered much, even if the plot thread was never picked up in another book.
In my debut, More Than This, there is a plot thread about a series of rapes in the book. It triggers issues for the hero, Ryan, but at the end of the book, it is unresolved. I didn’t think much of it, but then reviews came in and a few people complained that the book ended too abruptly and they wanted it issue resolved.I didn’t care if the rapists were caught on the page because the purpose of having that happen was for Ryan to learn that he can’t take care of everyone all the time.
In my New Adult novellas, I write more of a HFN (happy for now) ending for a couple of reasons. First, novellas by definition are short and the timeline for each is only a week or two. Personally, I have a hard time buying forever love happens in a week. Second, the protagonists are all in their early twenties. While I do believe that young love happens, I think a HFN ending is more believable for twenty-two year olds. And I say this as a woman who married at 23 to a man she met when she was 17. When readers complain about the lack of complete closure, what they state is dead on and unarguable. I do leave them hanging. But in real life, things are rarely tied up in a neat bundle for us. Maybe that’s why some readers are irritated with loose ends. Maybe they read and want the full escape complete with fairy tale endings. I guess I prefer the more realistic approach, as long as it doesn’t negatively impact the HEA.
When you read a book, do you expect all plot threads to be resolved?
His New Jam:
Hunter is fascinated by Sydney’s distant allure. He might be a ladies’ man on campus, but the sarcastic cymbalist is impervious to his advances. When Hunter sees how passionate Sydney is behind the drums, he orchestrates a plan to find out if she kisses like she plays.
What he doesn’t anticipate, however, is falling so hard. But will the repercussions of his past crash down on his chance at something real?
Shannyn Schroeder is the author of the O’Leary series, contemporary romances centered around a large Irish-American family in Chicago and the Hot & Nerdy series about 3 nerdy friends finding love. When she’s not wrangling her three kids or writing, she watches a ton of TV and loves to bake cookies.
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