We all know if you're writing romance you need to have a happily ever after. If the book doesn't have a happily ever after, then it's not a romance novel. I'm curious though...what do you consider a happily ever after? For me it's when the couple gets over the main conflict of the book, they say and know they are in love, are committed to each other, and will fight through whatever the future holds. Once they know they want to be together forever, and get over the conflict and I know they're happily in their relationship, that is their happily ever after to me. Does that mean I believe everything will be perfect in their futures? That they still won't have work to do? No, because no matter how much in love people are, relationships aren't perfect and there's always work to do. But you know they're committed and will fight together. That is my idea of a happily ever after.
Even if authors ended every book five, ten, or twenty years later, that wouldn't guarantee a happily ever after either, because in real life, people get divorced ten, fifteen, twenty years or more after marriage. And let's face it, if every book ended with a perfect bow, twenty years later when they have grown kids, that would get pretty boring.
I get asked a lot about writing books about characters who already had a story. I have to admit, I'm honored every time someone asks that. I feel so very lucky that readers love my characters so much that they want more from them, but I have to admit, it would have to be very special circumstances for me to write more than one book about the same couple for all the reasons I said above (Broken Pieces was that different kind of story). Once they're committed and get over their current conflict...there's no story to tell. They'll have ups and downs but they're in love and will stick it out. Plus, to write a book you have to have conflict and most of the time, I hate putting my characters through more than one book's worth of conflict. I hate making them hurt or breaking them up, which is totally a personal thing for me and my writing. There are plenty of books I've read and adored where the main couple has more than one book. I also want to say I think genres other than contemporary are a little different--or short stories and novellas where you don't need a big conflict. If they're fighting crimes or it's paranormal then the conflict isn't between the couple in each book.
I ask this because I sometimes hear people say my books are more of a happily for now, instead of a happily ever after. Which is fine. That's the beauty of reading! We all take something different from a book. We all see something different, but hearing that shocked me because I always considered my books happily ever afters. LOL. So now I'm being curious.
Those are my random thoughts on happily ever afters. I'd love to hear yours. What do you consider a happily ever after? What makes you feel satisfied at the end of a book?