Thursday, August 15, 2013
The trouble with happily ever after...
Ever heard the term HEA? I hadn't either until I started writing romance novels. It's a handy acronym that stands for Happily Ever After, and it's been standard fare in the romance novel genre for a long time. Growing up on a steady stream of romance tucked into other genres, I'd never heard of this requirement. After all, happily ever afters are the stuff of fairytales, right?
I wasn't too worried about it since all of my Good Girls Don't novels end with the lead character cozied up with her new love. Happily ever after.
Except not quite.
Apparently this is an HFN. A happily for now.
I see the difference I really do, but I'm also a little confused. Now I get the appeal of the first comes love then comes marriage then comes the baby in the baby carriage storyline. After all I grew up on Anne of Green Gables and devoured Twilight back in the day. There's something lovely about settling in with a couple and watching their life progress. And there's always going to be a place for those stories. Hell, anyone read 50 Shades?
What bothers me is the idea of New Adult romance and HEA. Are we really going to make HEA a requirement for our 19-23 year old characters while they're navigating school, finances, real jobs, and all that grown up stuff?
And furthermore, aren't all HEAs for now anyway? When we close books, we shut our window into their lives. Maybe Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth discovered it was harder than they thought to see past their prides and prejudices. Or Bella discovered forever was a really, really long time. I want to believe in true love as much as anyone, but I always want to respect that it's not always a smooth path. Happily ever afters are too nice and easy. Our characters deserve a little more than that. They serve real lives and real loves with all the heartache and joy and time in between.