Hello all! Katy Lee here.
It has been said the difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense. But when writing romance, we are told we have to make sure there is a happily ever after. (HEA) Even though, in reality, no one is promised one.
I once watched a cake decorating contest on The Food Network Challenge. Romance Writers of America’s own president, Dorien Kelly, sat on the judge’s panel. The participants were given the task of creating a book cover for a romantic story they created themselves. The challenge came when they had to design and create the cake that reflected their story. So they not only had to show their ability to tell a story, but they also had to show their expertise as cake decorators.
The cakes were beautiful. Beyond beautiful. Hundreds of butterflies covered one of them! Very cool! But in my humble opinion, there was one, in particular, that stood out above the rest. It was a cake made to look like a gigantic hardbound book. A chivalrous knight in shining armor with his sword drawn, stood beside it. His silver sword tip even dripped with a little blood from his recent kill.
A true hero.
But as beautiful as her cake was, she lost the competition because her heroine died in the end. In fact, I think the hero killed her. Yikes! But the point is, there was no HEA. This story wouldn’t fly in a romance market. It doesn’t matter how handsome that knight is under all that armor if the reader is left in mourning.
Even if the story is realistic.
As writers, it would be nice to be able to write that book of our heart, but if it doesn’t meet the needs (and requirements) of the market, we won’t be able to sell it. Realism is important, but in romance a reader will only come back for more if you leave them happy. When people read, they read to escape reality.
Question: Have you ever read a book that left you angry or in mourning? Did you run out and buy more from that author? Or are you now hesitant to try another? How do you want to leave your readers?