Fiction Vs. Reality

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?


About Katy Lee of

Katy Lee is an award-winning inspirational-romantic-suspense author, writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Suspense line and for Soul Mate Publishing. Her next novel, GRAVE DANGER, will be out May 1st. For a complete list of Katy's works and to see what she is up to, check out her social sites at and Twitter @KatyLeebooks and her personal website,
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6 Responses to Fiction Vs. Reality

  1. I think that sad stories have a place, too, just not in the romance market. Once things turn depressing, a writer has moved into literary fiction, and that’s a very small, tightly protected market. If I wrote something with a sad ending and wanted to publish, I’d go indie and put it up on Amazon.

    Great post. Makes me think…

  2. Jamie Brazil says:

    I threw “House of Mirth” against the wall and bawled my eyes out. How could she do that? Yet Edith still ranks number one as my favorite author.

  3. jannashay says:

    I have read several of Nicholas Sparks’ novels even though they never have a happily ever after. I still can’t figure out why I read them. I’m totally devastated by the time I reach the ending. That’s why I write romance, so my readers can have a HEA ending.

    Great post, Katy.

    • Katy Lee says:

      That’s so true when it comes to NS. When I pick it up, I plan for the tears, but still pick it up. But I would say he is the only one I will do that for. I once read a romance where the heroine died in the end and I wasn’t expecting it. I threw the book against the wall and never read anything by that author again.

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