How to satisfy your readers with endings by Rebecca Lee Smith *Comment To Win a $20 Amazon Giftcard INT Giveaway!*
Posted by Krystal Larson at 9:09 PM Tuesday, June 5, 2012
The end of the book—that wonderful payoff when the guy gets the girl, the villain gets his, and the reader’s vision of a future life for the characters extends well beyond the final page.
It’s all about keeping promises.
Beginnings and endings can be the hardest parts of a book to write because they are the two places an author must make good on their promise to the reader, without cheating them, without patronizing them, and without insulting their intelligence. When a reader picks up a romance, no matter which genre, the beginning of the book should set the tone that will carry them through to the end. This is a promise. If the book starts out funny, it had better be funny all the way through or the reader will feel duped. The same goes for a serious, suspenseful story that suddenly turns into slapstick. I’ve seen this happen, and it made me wonder what book I thought I was reading. It also made me want to avoid that particular author in the future.
I think the book that generates one of the most satisfying endings of all time is A Christmas Carol. It isn’t a romance; a couple doesn’t get their happily ever after at the end (unless you count Scrooge and Tiny Tim). But every few years, especially if I’m feeling low, I drag it out and read it again. During the holidays, I’ll watch any version of it on TV—from George C. Scott and Patrick Stewart to Vanessa Williams and Susan Lucci. I’ll even sit through the Tori Spelling version, if I’m desperate, because the Scrooge character’s complete and utter transformation at the end gets me every time. Scrooge isn’t transformed by love, unless it’s finally loving himself, but it makes me feel good to watch. It gives me hope and makes me want to experience that kind of emotional makeover in my own life. I count on that ending, and it never lets me down.
In a romance, especially one where the plot centers around a mystery, the reader expects the mystery to be solved, the loose ends tied up, and the hero and heroine to not only end up together, but to deserve their happy ending. In A Dance to Die For, the hero, Trent, and his brother have been burned by loving a dancer, which makes him doubly mistrustful of the heroine, Annabel, an ex-Broadway dancer who has ties with the hero’s dead fiancée. If Trent is ever going to be happy, he must learn to trust his own heart and, in turn, convince Annabel his heart is worth trusting. She deserves someone who isn’t afraid to love her.
For me, the most satisfying endings come at a price. When the hero and heroine change the other person by knowing them, and later, by loving them—that’s what elicits a sigh of satisfaction from me. When that change, however small, is so profound, it is clear the two of them belong together. And always will.
Something zinged past Annabel.
It cut and ruffled the new growth of hickory leaves beside her shoulder, like a bird soaring through the trees at warp speed. Her head jerked around. Trent was running toward her with his arms airborne, his beige raincoat ballooned behind him like a cape.
He pushed her off the path, then hit the ground sideways. He slid into the underbrush, shoulder first, and roughly pulled her down on top of him.
Another high-pitched crack echoed across the meadow.
Trent's hard body jolted beneath her.
He enveloped her in his arms and rolled her to the side, pressing her head into his broad chest. The musky scent of his aftershave mingled with the pungent tang of dried weeds and earth sent her senses into overload. The weight of his muscular thighs pushing against her equally muscular thighs sent a shudder pulsing through her. “It's okay,” he whispered. “I've got you.”
They lay motionless in the tall warm grass, side by side, for what seemed an eternity. Until the only sounds she could hear were the soft, protesting whir of insects and the rapid, steady thumping of his heart.
Annabel lifted her head and stared at the line of dark stubble along his chin. “What the hell was that?”
“Probably a poacher.”
“A poacher? Are you serious? Here?”
He loosened his grip on her shoulders. “The forest across the road belongs to the inn. There's no fence. All we can do is post No Hunting signs and hope for the best.”
“So, how do your guests feel about dodging bullets? I bet this place stays packed.”
Rebecca lives with her husband in the beautiful, misty mountains of East Tennessee, where the people are charming, soulful, and just a little bit crazy. She’s been everything from a tax collector to a stay-at-home-mom to a house painter to a professional actress and director. Her two grown sons live nearby, still have the power to make her laugh until she cries, and will always be the best things she’s given back to the world. It took her a lot of years to realize that writing was her true passion. When she’s not churning out sensual romantic mysteries with snappy dialogue and happy endings, she loves to travel the world, go to the Outer Banks for her ocean fix, watch old movies, hang out at the local pub, and make her day complete by correctly answering the Final Jeopardy! Question.
Rebecca will be giving away a $20 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour as well as to the host with the most comments (excluding the host's and the author's).
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