I've been thinking a lot about this lately. I'm gearing up for NaNoWriMo in November, and one of the recommendations in the wonderful book No Plot? No Problem by NaNo's founder, Chris Baty, is this: Make a list if things you love in a book, and be sure to put those in what you write. Make another list of things you hate in a book, and be sure those evil things don't worm their way into your novel when you get tired.
I could list things I will never put in a book all day. But it’s easier to tell you what I will ALWAYS write. I write romantic stories, and I will always give you a happy ending.
I’m not talking about a satisfying ending. You and I have different ideas about what constitutes one of those. You may love those, but I tend to throw those books against the wall. I have invested a lot of time and emotion in this couple. If they don’t get together in a timely manner and live happily ever after, you may think it’s for the best, but I feel cheated. These satisfying plots include the following:
• Boy and girl are not right for each other.
• Boy and girl are right for each other, but she is already married to somebody else, and he lets her go.
• Boy and girl are right for each other, but the obstacle keeping them apart is so insurmountable that they can’t get over it.
• Boy and girl are right for each other, and just when you think they’re going to get together, one of them DIES OMG!!!!!!!!
• Boy and girl are right for each other, and do get together, but only after 50 years, wherein the boy has lived a full life and traveled the world, while the girl has thought the boy was dead and has shriveled into a wizened heap of skin and bones, with only enough energy left to lift her head and greet the boy upon his triumphant return. Hooray!
Y’all. All these books have been best sellers and most of them have been made into movies, but where you see satisfying, I see a waste of my time as a reader and viewer. I want some payoff. And I always try to write the book I want to read.