Many moons ago, there was a time when I took care of my grandmother. I made her meals, and her bed, did her laundry and got to spend some really great time with her. Every day she would watch her “stories” and it didn’t take very long until I was watching them, too. You know, those soap operas that could drag a story line to it’s slow and agonizing end years later.
Grandmom and I had our favorite couple of the show. The underdogs that we rooted for. Those crazy kids just have to make it. Despite all the odds, every obstacle in their way (and there were many), they just had to make it.
After a lifetime of waiting, I turned to my grandmother and asked, “Why can’t they just live happily ever after?”
Straight faced and to the point she said, “Because that would be boring.”
You know what? Grandmom was right.
Now as I writer, I have created characters. I’ve given them a life, a past, loved ones and enemies, habits, quirks, mannerisms and favorite phrases. And as silly as it may sound, I root for them, too!
I don’t advocate drawing a story line out for as long as a soap opera does but I do advocate throwing obstacles in their way. If their goal, the happily ever after isn’t hard won – then it isn’t satisfying.
This means you need to kill your darlings – or cripple, maim, torture and emotionally devastate them. The hurdles they must dig deep to overcome, their journey to the HEA, is what makes the ending worth it.
So just when it looks like things are going smoothly in your book…
Take Grandmom’s advice and make the characters earn the HEA.