Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wicked Wednesday - does love conquer all?

Almost all romances on the market today have a Happily Ever After (HEA) ending. Most publishers request you to have it in this genre. The big presses do require it. We read to escape reality, and readers want to have the protagonist and her love to be together in the end.

Yet does love truly conquer all? In reality, no matter how much we wish it, it does not. There are many sad real life stories out there. A lot of heartache and heartbreak. Surely this isn't what readers want... right?

Some of the most popular love stories of all time are tragedies: Romeo & Juliet, Cleopatra & Mark Anthony, Lancelot & Guinevere, Tristan & Isolde, Orpheus & Eurydice.

Why do people love these tragedies? There are great characters and magnificent stories. The forbidden love, the love that was lost, the lover scorned. Sacrifice, betrayal, and murder. Fierce passion and immense sorrow.

I never set out to write tragedies. If a book I'm reading doesn't have a HEA, sometimes I do feel frustrated. Yet there are a few books I've read that have been magnificent without the boy gets girl ending. If the story is great and the ending fits, I will love a tragedy as much as a HEA.

Paranormal romance is a genre that challenges the HEA more often than any other romance sub-genre. The supernatural elements bring forth many possibilities, and the readers don't seem opposed to a dark ending as much as readers in other genres would be.

I'm a firm believer in never forcing an ending. I have a few manuscripts that do not have a HEA. Yet they have the endings that are right for the stories. It makes them difficult to sell. Even if they were the most brilliant stories of the decade, without that HEA, most editors won't read the manuscripts.

Do you like to read tragedies? And if so, why?

14 comments:

  1. Hey,

    I never set out to write tragedies either... but you should see some of my old writing :)

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  2. If I knew beforehand that the book had a tragic ending then no, I would not buy it. As you say, there is enough tragedy in this world and I read for enjoyment and to feel good. Saying that there have been books with a tragic ending that I have enjoyed all the way until the ending. Even though the tragedy told the correct story, I put the book down and hated it. Life makes me cry enough without looking for more reasons.

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  3. I do like a happy ending although there was a bit of a tragedy in my first book.

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  4. I am a HEA kind of girl, but I figured you probably knew that already! ;)

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  5. The ending of my book had a very dark ending. I had to lighten it up a bit, but the tone remained. I'm just dark that way. The ending shouldn't be forced, I agree.

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  6. Some people were upset about the way "St. Peter in Chains" ended. The original ending simply had Peter and Charles leaving together to go abroad, and I suspect a lot of readers would have liked that more. But I also sort of enjoy the fact that I made the readers feel something stronger with the more ambiguous ending; I like knowing I hit home. And the way it ended felt more right to me than the original HEA.

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  7. I love me happy endings, but I don't mind having sad ones as well--as long as it's satisfying in some emotional way :)
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  8. I love the tragedies. There is something about boy not getting the girl (and vice versa) at the end that is special. But if I read something that should be HEA, then it better be. It just depends on the book.

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  9. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Happy to know many of you are of the same mind.

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  10. Well, since I usually stray from HEA's I'll probably never publish under romance. If there is some other element of hope, I can deal with tragedy. Or if the writing is just phenomenal and the story makes me think, I'm fine with dark. One of my favorite writers, Thomas Hardy, is almost always dark. But he writes so beautifully.

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  11. I love tragedies with sad endings. Poe Edgar is my favorite writer too. Following.

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  12. That's too bad publishers won't take stories without a HEA. They're probably missing some good ones! (I like a good story - it doesn't matter to me if it has a HEA or not.)

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  13. Can't agree more... sometimes the story / characters want their own ending..:)

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  14. Life's too hard; I need the fictional happy ending. (A real one would rock way harder, but...)
    Some Dark Romantic

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