HEA vs. HFN… Huh?
When I decided to publish my books I jumped in face first to the online writing community. I say face first because I felt like I had been smacked with a million terms I didn’t know. Talk about a learning curve! The first couple that threw me off were HEA (Happily Ever After) and HFN (Happy for Now). As a reader I had no idea there was even a difference. I primarily read romance so it’s pretty much a shoo in that the couple will be together in the end. For me that meant they were happy.
As I dug in more and more I realized in the romance genre people had a desire to make their stories more and more realistic then those of the past. I read to Escape Reality so if some billionaire is going to sweep my heroine off her feet and take her to some secluded island where they have twenty babies and live happily ever after, I’m okay with that. Some readers are looking for something different. They want older heroes and heroines, an every day joe, divorcees etc. The good news is the romance genre is huge and if you want it you can find it. People write about characters that speak to them. Many authors write heroes and heroines that have their own characteristics or those of people they know. All of these elements go into building the perfect character for their reader. So, does it always have to have a happily ever after? In the real world not everyone wants marriage, or babies, or the private billionaire island maybe a happy for now really does work.
As romance is leaking into other genres, the idea of happy for now has taken hold. In many stories it makes sense that the couple is together in the end but it’s possible you don’t see the whole marriage and babies thing. Many writers now offer supplemental short stories, extended epilogs or even additional books to show the couples you loved in the future.
The question remains, does HFN work in romance? Personally, I think it all depends on the story line. If you are writing in romance then you readers are expecting their characters to be happy by the end of the book. The definition of happy may vary from story to story and it makes sense that it does. How you get them there, is what the story is all about. In other genres you have a bit more leeway. Just one word of advice… don’t kill one of them off. Oh and don’t kill a dog either, your readers will never forgive you.
As a reader which do you prefer? Do you need wedding bells and babies or are you okay with seeing them together and trusting it will stay that way? Comment below and share your thoughts.