Looking Past Happily Ever After

Does anyone else ever get frustrated with how the fairy tales end?

And they lived happily ever after …

The End.

Close the book. Dim the movie screen as the music fades.


Isn’t it romantic?

Well, yes. It’s romantic. But is it reality?

Sometimes the realist in me wants to add another chapter to the book, one detailing life a few months down the happily ever after road. You know–when Cinderella is tired of Prince Charming’s morning breath. Or when Prince Charming discovers Cinderella colors her hair. And talks to mice.


Does romance only last for the brief moments between the “I now pronounce you man and wife” kiss and the declaration of “They lived happily ever after?”

Or is there some way to see the beauty when you marry romance and reality? Is there some way to fall in love and stay in love … come what may? And is this kind “reality romance” the stuff novels are made of? The kind of stories readers want to read? Or do we want stories that scrape away the harshness, the struggles that come after the “I dos,” allowing us to focus only on the untarnished hope of tomorrow?


In Your Words: Romance or reality? What are you looking for when you pick up a romance novel? (What about if you’re writing a romance?) And does it have to be an either/or proposition? Will you read a romance with a dash of reality?


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  1. September 29, 2011, 6:11 am   /  Reply

    Hmmm. Very good. I wonder if you or someone will write a book about that middle period. Maybe a marriage in ho hum jeopardy w/ twists and turns where they come to stunning strength. I don’t even know if there’s anything like that out there. May not be a best seller, but could be important.

    • Beth Vogt
      September 29, 2011, 11:53 am   /  Reply

      Interesting challenge there, Dee. Worth mulling over.

  2. September 29, 2011, 6:14 am   /  Reply

    I read fiction for hope and enjoyment. I like a fairly happy ending – or at lease one that resolves the story and leaves me feeling like things are on the right track. I do NOT like fluffy, unrealistic stories. I prefer mine with at least a small dash of reality thrown in.
    I love your new site!

    • Beth Vogt
      September 29, 2011, 11:52 am   /  Reply

      Glad you like the new site, Edie. My web guru, Stacey, did an excellent job! (Her site is Digital Picnic.)
      And I’m with you–I like novels that have resolutions … believable ones.

  3. September 29, 2011, 7:17 am   /  Reply

    I’m OK with the “happily ever after ending” most of the time, because that’s a good stopping point. Sigh. I live in the real world, so I know life can shape that ending in a different way months later.

    • Beth Vogt
      September 29, 2011, 11:51 am   /  Reply

      One of the reasons I love reading a good romance–historical, contemporary, whatever–is to get a break from the real world. However, I don’t like romances to be so over-the-top unrealistic that I can’t relate to them at all.

  4. Jeanne
    September 29, 2011, 7:22 am   /  Reply

    Fun post, Beth. Romance or reality? Yes. I like/prefer both. When reading a romance novel, I think “real” adds depth to the story and characters, and I like depth. As for writing a romance, I believe I am writing what comes after the “happily ever after.” I don’t think it must be an either/or proposition. There are creative ways to merge both romance and reality together. 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      September 29, 2011, 11:50 am   /  Reply

      I like your approach to writing: merging romance and reality. The challenge? Finding the right balance. I admit there are times I want more romance, less reality. And times when the absence of any reality at all makes me groan.

  5. September 29, 2011, 11:40 am   /  Reply

    My tagline is “Promises of Hope and Happily Ever After” For me, the happily ever after is a mix of romance and reality. By accepting the reality, we can focus on the romance to create a happily ever after with our significant other. My 23 years with Hubby have proved there wasn’t anything in our relationship we couldn’t overcome together. To me, that’s true romance.

    • Beth Vogt
      September 29, 2011, 11:54 am   /  Reply

      I like that tagline, Lisa. And, having gotten a sneak peek at your debut novel, I know you weave reality and romance together beautifully. I think it’s so important to offer hope in the midst of reality.

  6. Sonia Meeter
    September 29, 2011, 1:17 pm   /  Reply

    I prefer novels to have a happy ending with a sort of PS on the rest of the story. I think that Jane Austen did it best in Pride & Prejudice. The last chapter is probably one of my favorites. It gives the reader the ability to imagine what things were like for the characters after the “Happily Ever After” ending. You find that Kitty spent most of her time with Elizabeth and Jane and turned out pretty good. Mary stayed at home. Wickham & Lydia continued to live beyond their means. Lady Catherine didn’t speak to Elizabeth & Mr. Darcy for some time, but got over it. There was just enough given so that the reader can imagine what the rest of the story was like.

    Love it.

    • Beth Vogt
      September 29, 2011, 1:49 pm   /  Reply

      Can’t argue with Jane Austin, can I?

  7. Gloria Rose
    September 29, 2011, 3:03 pm   /  Reply

    Beth, I like both — but the combination of lots of reality with a happy ending suits me most.
    I love the new look of your site – bravo!

    • Beth Vogt
      September 29, 2011, 3:19 pm   /  Reply

      You are echoing what others are saying … combo!
      And I’m glad you like the site. I do too!

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