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:~: Tuesday, February 06, 2007 :~:

Your Audience Expectations & Contest

Before I get started on the post, don't forget that yesterday kicked off another contest! How about three of James Patterson's hardcovers? And since Dawn posted yesterday, let's throw in an electronic copy of her novel, Grave Silence.

Okay...let's get to those Happily Ever Afters.

I read an article recently by a suspense author who was working on finding her message.

(If you read this blog regularly or my personal blog, you know that’s been on my mind lately. BTW, there’s still time to win chocolate for Valentine’s Day – just enter your suggestion of a tag line on the blog’s post Got Chocolate.)

This author spoke of considering your audience when choosing a tag line that describes your work, and that choosing a brand is more about how your readers view your work than how you want them to perceive your work. And in a dialogue class, Catherine Ryan Hyde commented on dialogue that might not be completely accurate to the character (i.e. a guy talking to another guy about sex and refering to it as making love vs. screwing, messing around, etc.), but might be something your audience would rather hear.

An interesting twist of the thought process, IMO. So, I took that into consideration as I mulled over my post about Happily Ever Afters.

I see myself mirrored in the audience--mothers, wives, professionals. They're the intelligent, confident, take-charge type. Even if they have to tone it down at PTA, it's in there. They've probably been around the block a few times, and while that may include their bedroom histories, most have been progressive in their education and careers. In that group there's bound to be a number of women who have doused their own dreams to meet their family's needs. Kids, husbands, aging parents. Maybe they've put personal desires on hold for work.

And the reason they’re going to pick up a romantic suspense is the same reason I do: escape. Escape from the daily trials of real life including death, illness, stress, the lousy boss, the lazy husband, the needy friend. While the book may contain similar circumstances, they’re not your circumstances—and there in lies the escape.

An unhappy ending would break that bubble and bring me right back to real life with a cruel thud—divorces, breakups, death, violence, struggle. No thanks. If I’m going to spend the time to read a romance, ride the emotional waves with the characters, I want to get something out of the trip—something good, something happy, something that will lift my heart when I think of it in the future.

I want payoff—big, warm, fuzzy, wish-that-would-happen-to-me payoff. And I want it in a big way.

I also enjoy living vicariously through an author’s characters, experiencing the excitement that passed me by, or that opportunity I never took. I like fantasizing about living in the heroine’s beautiful skin with all that grit and moxie and confidence. I wish I could say the things the heroine says, with all the attitude and timing she has. I love reliving those first glorious, tingling stages of falling in love—the looks, the touches, the first kiss, the fresh, passionate sex. You know—that honeymoon period when all the things you find special and unique about your man (the same ones that will someday irritate the hell out of you) are endearing or sexy.

Therefore, for me, unhappy endings are painful. Physically, emotionally painful.

If I’m not reading romance, if the storyline doesn’t have a romantic thread, of course there won’t be the classic HEA—fall in love, get married, and live…well, you know. But even in other genres I personally need a happily ever after—a just ending—which, IMO, would involve the villain getting nailed (or even better—killed in some horrific way way), and the protagonist enjoying the rewards of his hard work (or suffering).

What do you think your audience wants to see at the end of your novel?



Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

The same thing I want to see - a satisfying resolution. The bad guy is caught, the hero and heroine realize they can't live without each other, the loose ends (or most) are neatly tied up.

I'm like you, J. I read to escape. It's part of the reason I love writing, too.

Great post. I'm looking forward to hearing about your new "brand".

11:39 AM  
Blogger Linda Winfree said...

Like E, I think the key is resolution. Well, believable resolution.

I hate getting to the end of a book and going, "What?! No way." because you simply don't believe the ending fits the characters.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Edie said...

I like E's satisfying resolution' answer. Like you said, it depends on the story. In a romantic suspense, HEA is expected. If it were a thriller, maybe not. So if the first ended unhappily, I'd feel cheated.

Did anyone see THE DEPARTED? I HATED the ending. To me, it ruined what would have been a fabulous movie. I didn't expect a HEA, but what he did left no hope. I won't go to see the next Martin Scorcese film.

If it were a book, I wouldn't buy the writer's next one, no matter how well she wrote.

6:47 AM  
Blogger Elisa said...

I agree, too. I want an ending with loose ends tied up.

I haven't seen The Departed...now I'm not sure if I want to. lol I hate investing that much time in something only to have the ending ruin it all.

8:11 AM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

OMG, Edie--I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach at the climax of Departed. I was sick! Absolutely sick. And that's exactly what I mean by being invested in a character and then losing them -- it's a physical loss.

5:40 PM  
Blogger Edie said...

Joan, I've only talked to one person who liked the ending. The other people I talked to felt the same way. It felt as if Sorcese betrayed his characters--and us--with the ending.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Eli, you sumed it up perfectly for me. I want a believeable resolution. I want to close the book with a sigh knowing the hero and heroine are going to make it. That they'll be together for their fiftieth anniversary.

9:43 PM  

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