In this post, we look at five ways to end your romance novel.
Read the first post in the series here: 5 Ways To Begin Your Romance Novel
Usually, Romance novels have one of two types of endings. The Disney version, known as an HEA, or Happy Ever After, or an HFN, a more realistic Happy For Now ending.
Accepted wisdom says that if your book has neither the HEA, nor the HFN ending, then it’s not a Romance. But no one lives happily ever after. This is fiction, I hear you cry. Don’t tell us Darcy ran to fat and lost his hair! I’m certainly not advocating that! But is the final kiss the only way to end a romance novel?
5 Ways To End Your Romance Novel
Here are some things to consider when ending your romance novel. Be warned there are spoilers ahead!
- Finish With Crocodile Boots. Leave The Reader Laughing, But Sceptical
In the rom-com adventure movie Romancing the Stone, the jewel Jack has been hunting is swallowed by a crocodile. Reluctantly he abandons the jewel to rescue Joan. Once Joan is safe, he kisses her, and dives into the water in search of the crocodile. The next time we see Jack, he’s wearing crocodile-skin boots. He’s also on a sailboat and has come to take Joan away for a romantic around-the-world cruise. As he’s the selfish type, we’re not convinced he’s great Ever-After material, so it’s definitely a Happy For Now ending.
- Keep The Hero And Heroine Alive. Leave The Reader Breathless
The award-winning novel, Zemindar by Valerie Fitzgerald, is 796 pages of often heart-breaking drama set in India during the Indian Mutiny. After everything that has happened, including an awful quarrel with Oliver which she bitterly regrets, Laura only discovers Oliver is still alive near the end of the book. They only reunite on the second last page. These two have more than proved their love can survive no matter what gets thrown at them, so I’m calling it a LDL, a Love Despite Life romance.
- Take Away Everything But Their Love. Leave The Reader In Shock
When you look at some famous fictional romances, you’ll see that they don’t end well at all. Instead, they break your heart. Titanic may be a disaster movie, but it has first billing as an epic romance. It’s definitely a love story. But it’s also what I call a LUD. A Love Until Death romance. In Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier takes the reader on a torturous journey. As the book is written in the first person, we find ourselves loving Max and hoping for the same things for which Mrs de Winter hopes. Even after Max has admitted to murder, we still want everything to turn out alright for them. The book ends with Manderley burning. They have lost everything, except each other. An LDL or Love Despite Life story certainly, but one that ends on a bitter and tragic note.
- Tie Up All The Loose Ends – Leave The Reader With Everything Resolved
Hollywood isn’t the only place that loves a magically-lit epilogue. The ending of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë follows the pattern. In most novels, the sub plots are resolved before we get to the final chapter because that’s reserved for the hero and heroine’s final plot resolution. Followed, of course, by the all-important kiss, if not the wedding scene. Then there is a time jump and we see them living out their Happy Ever After. A picnic under a tree with two kids and a dog spring to mind. A similar thing happens in Jane Eyre. Written almost as a personal letter to the reader, Jane begins with one of the most memorable lines from the book, ‘Reader, I married him’. She goes on to reveal what happened to her and Rochester, as well as the other characters. Another LDL. On a side note, resolving the sub-plots and tying up all the loose ends in a logical and believable way is important no matter what genre you’re writing!
- And Now For Something Completely Different.
Georgette Heyer is the undisputed Queen of Regency Romance. Her books have laugh out loud happy endings. Her book, The Grand Sophy is no exception. An ill-lit, dingy manor is not the most romantic of settings. The fact that it is filled with an assortment of characters whose relationships Sophy has profoundly disrupted, plus a small flock of constantly escaping ducklings, makes things even more unromantic and chaotic. Georgette Heyer delivers a final, memorable paragraph, ‘’Charles!’ uttered Sophy, shocked. ‘You cannot love me!’ Mr Rivenhall pulled the door to behind them, and in a very rough fashion jerked her into his arms and kissed her. ‘I don’t. I dislike you excessively!’ he said savagely. Entranced by these lover-like words, Miss Stanton-Lacey returned his embrace with fervour, and meekly allowed herself to be led to the stables.’
When writing the end of your romance novel, remember – no matter what sub-genre it’s in, it must, like Rebecca or The Grand Sophy, match the tone of the book, tie up the sub plots, and be logical and believable. It should, if at all possible, also be memorable.
The Last Word
Do you want to learn how to write romance? We hope this article helped you with five ways to end your romance novel.
Suggested Posts On Romance Writing:
- A Quick Start Guide To Writing Romance
- All About The Romance Writing Genre
- The Almost Moment Is The Secret To Successful Romance Writing
- 5 Ways To Write A Modern Romance With A Classic Twist
- Why I Write Romance
- 20 Things To Remember When Writing Category Romance
- The Romantic Heroine
- The Romantic Hero
- The 4 Pillars Of Romance
- What Romance Writers Can Learn From Watching Bridgerton
TOP TIP: If you want to learn how to write a romance, sign up for our online course, This Kiss.
by Elaine Dodge. Elaine is the author of The Harcourts of Canada series. Elaine trained as a graphic designer, then worked in design, advertising, and broadcast television. She now creates content, mostly in written form, for clients across the globe, but would much rather be drafting her books and short stories.
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