No seriously, I am very, extremely, completely, (insert adverb here), fond of the Happily Ever After. Just love it! Won’t even read or watch a movie that won’t guarantee me a HEA. Well … except for Gangster flicks. Every rule has to have an exception.
This may lead you to wonder… if Gen loves the Happily Ever After, but also loves writing about gangsters, how on earth can she reconcile the two? Well, given the theme of the Downey Trilogy is about a very moral cop who loves his gangster father, I think you should probably brace yourself for my even greater love of figuring out how two opposing ideas can live in harmony.
The truth is, it’s not about the HEA, it’s that I love a JUSTIFIED ending. And the HEA is justified in most plot lines when it’s been earned, just as the nonHEA is justified in certain endings, which in a way, if you think about it makes it a HEA ending for certain characters. If you give a HEA out when there was never any conflict to begin with isn’t it a bit anti-climactic? Likewise, making an unhappy ending for some characters while giving others one and not really explaining why just shows you have a love for the random and not necessarily a well deserved ending. See what I’m saying? No?
I know, I know … What the Hell is Gen rambling about now?
(I lobtser HATE Godfather III, but simply adore to the point of having it nearly memorized Godfather I & II, if that gives you a clue.)
Anyway, I love it when characters go through Hell. I think every author owes it to their audience to make their characters — whether these are dark characters or Mary Sue perfect characters — suffer a bit, actually quite a bit, before giving them their HEA. And similarly, I feel if you are going to write an UNhappy ending give me a damn good reason why that guy had to die alone next to a stray dog and not the OTHER ‘bad’ guy who died surrounded by his beloved tomatoes and grandchild. Bittersweet endings have their place, like the first in a series or an actual recounting of history, but not after you’ve already made the character suffer in other ways. I’m. Just. Sayin.
Similarly, I’ve always really hated Romeo and Juliet. No, it’s true. It’s not really because of the unhappy ending, it’s because of the inherent stupidity of the two main protagonists. I mean come ON! I’ve been fourteen. All passionately in luuuuurve. But faking your death, then not taking two seconds to doubt the veracity of what you’re seeing and offing yourself for real? I was never that dim-witted when I was fourteen. That’s taking hyperbole and a flair for dramatics to the extreme. No?
See, even as a teenager when first reading it I remember thinking, if I had written Romeo & Juliet it would go something like this:
Romeo gets his priest (who I think everyone realizes was on the take the whole time, right?) to secure passage out of town. Juliet sews a bunch of family jewels into their clothes to pay for the journey. If they have to do the whole over-the-top faking death thing they can stage an explosion/accident (ala Count of Monte Cristo) and they both fake out not only their families but the priest himself (no witnesses!) then they go hide out in a town in Sicily and create their own Mafia family and then decades later they come back to Verona and literally take over the town, round up their surviving ‘loved’ ones, all fuck you bitches, bet you wish you’d just let us get married now huh? See, then all the unreasonable warmongering ones got their just deserts and the ones who just wanted to get the hibbity on got to be together, but only after they worked hard for it. Not to mention your two main characters are no longer written as simpering morons but badass take charge entrepreneurs.
But … that’s probably just me.
I’m weird like that.
Romeo: Corleone’s that way, baby. I got a crib there and everything.
Juliet: Oh, Romeo, I lurve it when you strap your gangster on…