In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

In My Words: Looking Beyond Happily Ever After

The optimist in me loves a story with a happily ever after.

The realist in me knows there is more to happily ever after than fairy tales tells us.

Cinderella marries the prince. Ditto Snow White and Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel and Belle and Ariel. We close the storybook or watch the movie screen fade to black, the words "And They Lived Happily Ever After" disappearing as the houselights brighten.

The End.

Or is it?

In a fairy tale, sure. The words "Happily Ever After" sum up the rest of the story.

But what about real life--the world you and I live in?

I don't know about you, but I don't live inside a fairy tale. My husband Rob is a wonderful guy--truly heroic in many ways. But there was no Walt Disney-inspired magic about our relationship--no fairy godmother or lost glass slippers or spells to be broken. We fell in love, experiencing emotional bumps and bruises along the way.

When we vowed to love one another "for better, for worse," we never imagined how bad "worse" could be. We were optimistic, hope-filled newlyweds, oh-so-clueless about marriage.

Falling in love is an a-ma-zing experience. Consider romance movies or novels--aren't they mostly about two people falling in love, despite obstacles and misunderstandings and those "we shouldn't fall in love but we are" feelings warring against one another?

Staying in love--what happens beyond happily ever after--that's what real life is about. Consider these lyrics from the song "Happy Ending" by Sugarland:

We all know the stories
We all know the fairy tales
We all get the glory of making it for ourselves

From the beginning
We're all looking for a happy ending
Every dream of winning
Every love we've been in
Right from the beginning
We're all looking for a happy ending

In my writing life, I stop with the happy ending. In my real life, happily ever after is just the beginning of discovering the rest of the story--and what a happy ending looks like.

What about you? Do you like both romance and realism in a book? Or is a romance novel an escape from real life pressures, allowing you to savor a happy ending without  the intrusion of any harsh realities? 

photo by  channah/

Labels: , , ,


At 7:29 AM, Blogger Katie Ganshert said...

This is so true. The happy ending is truly only the beginning and although life is tough and staying in love is not this giddy, take-my-breath away thing, it is still a beautiful, beautiful thing. I like both - the escapism is nice, but a realistic book that makes me ponder is good too. I'll take them both - depending on my mood.

At 10:15 AM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

If I'm reading a romance, I want to know I'll have that happy ending, even if there is trouble along the way.
In real life, I've learned marriage = work--and the work is so, so worth it.

At 11:02 AM, Blogger Evangeline Denmark said...

Beth, you forgot a category! Those of us who like a touch of the paranormal with out romance. ;) But really, even the supernatural threads are based on real issues or feelings. So I'd go so far as to say you can't have happily ever after without a touch of reality. If your characters don't have real conflicts and emotions, your happily ever after will be about as meaningful as a credit card offer.

At 11:53 AM, Blogger Jeanne T said...

Love this post, Beth. I agree with your thoughts about happily ever after and realism. I like realism in a book. I always wonder when I get to the end of a book what comes next for the characters. Realism makes a story relatable to readers, I think.

At 1:31 PM, Blogger Stacy S. Jensen said...

I like a little escape from real life (that's why I sometimes read entertainment news, instead of world news events). At the same time, I like stories to make me think and consider future possibilities.

At 3:07 PM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

Evangeline, I happen to know you weave romance into your supernatural stories . . . and you do it quite well!
And Jeanne & Stacy, it sounds like we're similar because we wonder about the rest of the story.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

e-newsletter signup
Free Resources
Books and CDs
For Writers
For Moms Over 35