by: Joelle Charbonneau
This weekend I attended the wedding of a former student of mine. (Does that make me feel old – yes! But that’s a different post for another time.) The bride looked stunning! She had an old Hollywood glam style that took everyone’s breath away. The ceremony was lovely. There was lots of laughter. More sighs. A few wistful tears. A perfect way to start their Happily Ever After.
Which got me thinking about writing. I know – big surprise, right? Happily Ever After is a big theme in so many books. I mean romance is all about two people finding Happily Ever After. In many mystery series, the characters from book to book are often looking for the illusive thing that will give them a Happily Ever After – whether a relationship, career satisfaction or redemption.
It’s interesting that so much fiction is about either getting to Happily Ever After or coming out of it. Which I supposed makes sense. When everyone is happy there is no conflict. Conflict starts when people are struggling to find that illusive happiness. It also begins when characters start looking for the next big thing after what was supposed to fulfill them does not meet their expectations.
While Happily Ever After isn’t typically associated with crime fiction, I would suggest that deep inside the best crime fiction characters is a desire for that fairy tale ending. How many characters are looking for the big score that will finally balance the scales and give them the chance to be happy? How many are jealous of that thing everyone else seems to have that they can’t seem to find? Readers identify with that need to find happiness no matter what genre that quest appears in. Let’s face it—the best stories are filled with conflict. Tracking down the one thing that will make your life complete is never an easy road to navigate. But watching the couple exchange their vows this weekend makes me realize why so many stories are filled with the search for Happily Ever After.
Good post, Joelle! I think you're right--the desire for "happily ever after" fuels most of the crime in fiction. It's people who think that someone's death will in some way give them "happily ever after" that make mysteries and thrillers possible.
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