Frivolous Friday: What’s a Perfect Ending?

I happen to love a happy ending. I don’t like closing a book unsatisfied. Katie Ganshert wrote a great post on Monday about tension and frustration and the difference.

She said, “Avoid drawing things out for an eternity.

Yes, we want to prolong tension. But not to the point of frustration.”
She’s right and this got me thinking.
Where’s the fine line between frustration and tongue hanging out and panting for more, when ending a book and leaving the hero/heroine apart?
Here’s what I think.
What to do to keep readers from getting frustrated when a hero/heroine don’t end up together in the end.
1. Make sure they know you have a sequel/series coming and the story isn’t over.
Unless you plan to finish out their story in a sequel or a series, don’t rip them apart. I personally don’t want to go away feeling like, well hey, if I wanted the real world, I’d have just called my cousin. Her relationship is on rocky ground. By the time she answers, he’ll be out the door and I can cry and boo hoo and feel unsatisfied without paying $15.99. So glad I bought the unlimited minutes plan.
2. Give them lots of moments with romantic tension, flirting, touches and a few sizzling kisses–or sweet ones depending on what you write.
The whole point of reading a romance is for the romance. Profound. I know. I know. I want to read a book that is full of flirting, glances, touches (mostly appropriate ;)) and swooning moments. If you do that and then pull them apart at the end, while I know it really isn’t over see 1., I’ll be screaming with anticipation for the next book. Not frustration.
3. Tie up and resolve sub-plots, twists, or murders. Again, this depends on what you write.
When I know they’ve caught the bad guy (unless it’s a sequel and he’s still on the loose–but for the love give us something to resolve) the secret is revealed, the twist gets straightened out then I have some gratification. I feel the book is over, even if the relationship between the hero/heroine isn’t. I don’t feel like it ended with a thlump!
I certianly don’t want to frustrate a reader, but I think if written well, we can leave the story hanging…until the next book.
Just to clarify, I know life doesn’t always end in a fairy tale. I think you can write a believable journey with plenty of grit and grief, convey the message, point to Christ, and still have a happy ending. I’ve seen it in hundreds of books.
Now it’s your turn. Do you like happy endings? Do you feel satisfied when the hero/heroine don’t end up together, but you know another book or two with more story is coming?
I really want to know your thoughts. Have a great weekend, friends.

21 thoughts on “Frivolous Friday: What’s a Perfect Ending?

  1. Hehehe I only tolerate lovers being torn apart on two conditions:

    1) I know that there's a sequel.

    2) It's hinted that they'll get back together.

  2. I like happy endings, or bittersweet endings. Really, I like endings that feel "right". Even if that is sad. What I don't like is a sharp turn into left field at the very end that seems to be solely for the cause of shocking the reader or being "unique". If it flows, that's one thing. Surprises are nice… if they are pleasant! If a sequel is coming, I don't mind the couple not being together at the end. (In that good, anticipatory way.) =)

  3. I like happy endings. Although I'm all about the suspense/thriller plots (touch of romance a must), I still want it all to turn out all right in the end. You know? I agree, for romances esp, I want them together at the end unless I know there's going to be a sequel (or series). One thing that kept me zooming through Karen Kingsbury's Fame series was wondering if Dane and Katy were going to end up together (gee, I hope I got their names right…it's been awhile).

  4. Hi Jessica,

    Here's where I stand on this…I like endings with great resolutions but I don't need it to be happy. Not sure that makes sense, but I've read lots of books I've loved where things aren't happy, but resolved at the end (as far as the book goes) and I cheered. Little Bee is one I'm thinking of.

    Happy 4th,

  5. Thanks for the links, Jessica! I love all your points, too!

  6. AMEN! I love the romance of romances, all the things you mentioned. I definitely want the HEA, though, and I want it good. Know what gets me though? When the book ends with the kiss. No more, especially when it's been a long road to get to the kiss. I always want just a little more of the relationship. Guess this is why I like epilogues.

  7. I'm such a happily ever after girl that if the book doesn't have a happy ending, I won't finish it or I won't buy that author's books again.

    I watched a well-known author's novel-turned-movie and invested my time and emotions into the story. I was so stinking angry about the ending that I refuse to read his books or watch his movies again.

  8. I want a happy ending. I think that's why I love and write romance, and why I love mysteries. I want everything all tied up neatly at the end of the story.

  9. I first noticed the difference in movies. America is a romantic culture. Not just for romance, but all things. Even in action movies, the good guys defeat the bad, leaving a happy ending and resolution. This is true in 90% of American made movies, even the horror flicks. However, much of the rest of the world does not feel the need to 'wrap it up.'

    I don't know how many Japanese books and movies I've experienced where not only did the couple not end up together, but there were still questions left unanswered. Issues brought up earlier that were never addressed again. Many European authors do the same.

    While it was a bit if a culture shock at first, I grew to appreciate it more as time went on. For me, part of the thrill of the read is diminished if I know it is going to work out in the end. Not knowing makes is more thrilling. He may get the girl, he may not. The villain might pay, or he may slip away. I love it.

  10. I need the happy ending, the romance, the heart fluttering… and I want it by the end of the book please. 🙂

  11. Misha: Glad to see I'm not alone here! LOL

    Michelle: You must have been up late. ha! I see what you're saying. "Right" endings work. I agree. But when I pick up a romance, I want to see them happy.

    Ralene: I zoomed through the Fame series too. I had to know. It was angst, but the good kind. Not frustrating. I love lots of thrills and suspense as well, but I always have to have some love goin on!

    Wendy: I'm glad the comment section worked for you this time! 🙂 Loved your question today on anger. What you say makes perfect sense. Resolution without necessarily being happy. I haven't read Little Bee. Happy 4th to you too!

    Katie: It was a great post that really made my mind turn about frustrating ends vs. a good anticipation. Thanks!

    Jodie: Not that I'm surprised a bit, but I love epilogues too! 🙂

    Lisa: Glad you popped in! I know you like Happily Ever Afters! 😉 I thought of you and your blog when I was writing this, actually.

    Erica: I'm all in with you! I love mysteries solved as well.

    Brett: You would. I think a romance/suspense can be written well enough that makes the reader wondering and still tie it up clean and happy at the end, unless it's a sequel/series. 🙂 I have noticed, especially the in the Japanese movies that things don't always end well.

    I think we saw that first with the movie SEVEN. That changed things for movies. I walked away from that going, "Whoah!" I was satisfied and shocked. The movie ended and everything was tied up, but man it exploded with the ending. I think this is PERFECT for a thriller!! But NOT for a romance.

  12. Lacie: I loved your comment "by the end of the book please." I agree! 🙂

  13. Totally agree. If you're not going to tie up all the loose ends, you'll need to make sure that your readers know that a sequel is coming. Incidentally, NOT tying up loose ends will create much to write about in the sequel.

  14. Totally agree. If you're not going to tie up all the loose ends, you'll need to make sure that your readers know that a sequel is coming. Incidentally, NOT tying up loose ends will create much to write about in the sequel.

  15. I'm a happy ending kind of girl.

  16. I enjoy happy endings. If there's a sequel, then I eagerly await to see the hero and heroine get their moment 🙂 Thanks for the tips.

    Have a great 4th!

  17. I enjoy nice endings, too. I don't like it when I'm left hanging, or when things fall apart at the end. So many good books have been ruined by that.

    I struggled with the ending of my WIP and know I've got some work to do. These tips will be a big help, thanks!

  18. Brandi had said what I wanted to say, I'm now vigorously nodding my head in agreement.

  19. I definitely love happy endings. But not too tidy; that can seem UNreal!

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