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And They Lived Happily Ever After

by Lisa Jordan

I’m a sucker for happy endings. I admit it and make no apologies for it.

I’ve heard complaints about romance novels being predictable-they end the same way with the hero and heroine concluding with the realization they’re in love and want to spend the rest of their lives together. Isn’t that the point of a romance? So, yes, the ending may be predictable, but getting to that happily ever after moment is the tricky part.

What kind of story would it be if boy meets girl, likes girl, asks girl out, she accepts, they date, get along, and finally, boy and girl get married. Yawn. Yeah, total bore.

Part of the heart-satisfying ending is the journey through the pages. Boy meets girl and maybe they don’t hit it off. Or maybe they do. They have reasons that draw them together, but they also have reasons for staying apart. Something about the other person fills a gap in their heart or in their lives, but they need to overcome external and internal obstacles. Herein lies the core of the story. Without goals and the motivating factors behind them, there is no conflict. No conflict, no plot. No plot, no story.

Like with other genres, every scene in a romance novel needs a character goal, motivation for that goal, and obstacles to keep the character from achieving the goal. But in a romance, the author needs to include other essential scenes-date scenes, sizzle scenes, and the grand gesture scenes.

Date scenes are those situations that draw the characters together on the page so they will fall in love.

Sizzle scenes show the romantic tension and physical spark between the characters. Maybe they share their first kiss. In CBA, sizzle is more focused on the emotional impact than the physical aspect of the attraction. Allow the reader to feel the emotional attraction between the characters.

As the characters near their black moments, the reasons why they shouldn’t be together flare up. These “why not” reasons keep them apart and make them think they’re not good together.

The characters have overcome obstacles and now, they’ve come to their breaking point. This is where the $20,000 question comes in-is it worth it? Their hearts have been shredded like yesterday’s documents. They’ve hit the black moment in their relationship. Do they cut their losses and walk away, or is their love worth making necessary sacrifices so they can be together? Now they need to make the grand gesture to prove true love does exist for them. And once they succeed, they can celebrate their love and end the story with their happily ever after moment.

Create three-dimensional characters that make me want to read more, wrestle with my emotions, keep me turning pages with heart-pounding conflicts as the characters stumble and fail at obtaining their goals, but most of all, give me a happily ever after ending because in the end, it is worth it.


Married 23 years to her own real-life hero, Lisa Jordan knows a thing or two about romance. She and her husband have two college-aged sons. Her second novel, Lakeside Family, will be released in August 2012 by Love Inspired. In her free time, she loves good books, romantic comedies and feeding her NCIS addiction.

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One Response to And They Lived Happily Ever After

  1. Nuggets of gold. That’s what your paragraphs are, Lisa. You have given us a great outline for writing romance. Can’t wait for Lakeside Family to come out!