Powerful stories are remembered for ages to come. They resonate deep within us, invoking an intense emotion long after we’ve read them. Sometimes, the sadder or more shocking the ending, the more we remember that story above all others. That is why I say it is perfectly okay to break our hearts, even when it’s a romance story.
If every story ended with “and they all lived happily ever after,” there would be no push to make it all the way to the end. I don’t know about you, but sometimes serious complications preventing the protagonists (or almost doing so) can be more of a surprise to me than the normal Disney/fairytale ending I grew up loving. However, “happily ever after” is and always will be a much loved and sought-after ending. But it’s not a requirement in my book.
What we want is for you to make us feel the love. We want to feel the connection to the protagonists. We want to root for them. We want to cry with them, triumph with them, love alongside them. We want to remember them.
So don’t be afraid to follow your story wherever it leads you. Not every story has to have a happy ending. Some simply need closure. So there’s a dead body in your romance story? Great. That could fall under the mystery/romance category if you set it up right. Luckily, we don’t discriminate against genre blending. That aspect of your story could be what makes it stand out to your readers—and to us—and the feeling it invokes could be remembered for years to come.
The key word here is powerful. Show us what love means to your characters. Show us how they act when they’re in love, how it changes them—for better or for worse. Use words and description that convey that deep connection between your characters. Then throw obstacles in their way and watch them fight to be together. Be it physical or abstract, obstacles add tension and keep the readers interested in the story.
Whatever your story entails, don’t be afraid to break our hearts. Sometimes, the most powerful thing a reader can take away from your story is a lesson learned, inspiration from how the protagonists keep going in the midst of their own heartaches, or how they keep their hearts open to love even after experience tells them they shouldn’t.
And of course, we always love a “happily ever after” ending, and so do readers everywhere, especially if it’s full of hope after a long struggle. Again, don’t make it easy for your characters and your readers will appreciate the triumph that much more.
Jessica Victoria Fisette is the author of The Soul Reaper series, The Aldurian Chronicles, and various short stories including the short story series Elves of the Blood Moon. You can also read more of her works in the first Writers Unite! Anthology: Realm of Magic. Her hobbies include discovering the benefits of natural medicine, wine tasting, and trying new recipes in the kitchen. She likes to unwind by typing out a scene or two in her latest obsession or indulging in a good book. Having been passionate about writing since she was a little girl, she is constantly coming up with new ideas for future stories and creating unique, strong-willed—albeit flawed—characters to overcome the difficult obstacles she places before them. Having spent all her life in rural Southeast Texas, she appreciates the tranquility of country living and hopes to implement such a love for nature into her beautiful, ever-so-curious little girl.
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