by Amanda Usen
Writing endings is my least favorite part of writing a book. By the end of the book, the hero and heroine have usually exhausted themselves and me by alternately fighting and making up until they are forced to come to a grand epiphany that will allow them to acknowledge their oh-tragic flaws and declare their true love forever. Here is the ending I would love to write:
I love you! I love you, too! Kiss! THE END.
*BAM* that was the sound of a reader throwing my book at the wall, which is what would happen if I wrote that lame ending. (Confession: I actually DID write that lame ending for MAKE ME, TAKE ME and my editor saved me from my laziness.)
As a reader, I know the ending is the payoff. I read hundreds of pages waiting for it, anticipating the moment when the hero and heroine can be together without all the hang-ups and conflicts that have been keeping them apart. By gosh, the reader-me wants to revel while they roll around in all that true love bliss. But the writer-me likes writing the fight scenes and the sex scenes so much more and just wants them to get on with their happy lives now that the heavy lifting is over.
I wonder if this has something to do with me being a terrible apologizer. I’ve been happily married for fifteen years, and my husband and I don’t fight much. When we do, it’s usually about the same thing. In fact, we’ve gotten to the point where we can usually skip the fight entirely by going over the outline instead. “Okay honey, this is where you say abc, and then I say xyz. Then we’ll decide pdq. How about we just decide pdq right now and snuggle on the couch and watch bad TV instead?” Our fights are so boring they could cure insomnia.
However, before my husband and I reached this point of marital blissitude, I learned I hate being wrong. If my husband could actually get me to the point of apologizing for being an idiot, I thought saying it once was sufficient. Oh, no. Oh no, no, no. A good apology is sincere, freely given, and repeated many times. I learned this from him…because he’s usually the one in the wrong, of course! Back in our fightin’ days, groveling is how we mended our fences, and it also works well at the end of a book. Do not underestimate the fine art of The Grovel. It has helped many a hero and heroine seal the deal on a happily ever after, as well as saving my husband’s life.
Another good ending trick is the Grand Gesture. (Confession: Mine are never grand enough. I always have to re-write them. I imagine it’s my apologizing handicap getting in the way again.) In my books, the hero is usually the one who has made so many mistakes that he has to do something big, bold, and breathtaking in order to earn the heroine’s forgiveness. However, in my latest release, MAKE ME, TAKE ME, I knew I wanted the heroine to make the grand gesture. Before I even started writing the book, I knew I wanted her to be so incredibly stubborn, blind, and damaged that she had to lose everything before she could admit she was wrong, change, and make amends. Throughout the book, she struggles not to crack, not to show emotion, and not to cry. At the end of the book, she’s on her knees, sobbing in a filthy alley. And it’s all her fault. And she knows it. My main objective in writing the book was to put her on her knees. Why? So she could figure out how to get up. As Betsy learns, getting up can be easy. With a little help from your friends…
What about you? Are you a good groveler? Do you make grand gestures? If so, which ones have worked in the past? Or are you like me, preferring to avoid the fight entirely, especially if you might—possible—have to admit to being *gasp* wrong?
MAKE ME, TAKE ME
He’s every fantasy she’s ever had…
Betsy Mouton knows that easy doesn’t last forever. She’s working her butt off to launch the Last Call Café so her family can leave the New Orleans bar business—and its heartaches—behind forever. That is, until the hottest one-night-stand of her life shows up next door, twice as uncompromising and two million times hotter, offering to buy the bar and send the Moutons to Easy Street.
Hotelier Quinton James has never forgotten the unbelievably hot night he and Betsy shared. Never forgotten how beautifully she submitted to him, or how he found the only peace he’s ever known in her arms. Now that Betsy is the only thing standing in the way of his new hotel, she’s the one in control. But there’s more at stake than her café or laying their past to rest—Quin wants a future. With her. All he has to do is convince her…one sensual command at a time.