It’s Complicated

January 21, 2010 | Karin's Blog | 28 comments


So, I went to see the movie yesterday with my mother-in-law.  We’ve both been wanting to see it but with my cave dwelling of the past month, well, nothing but blood, broken bones and my granddaughter get in the way of my deadline.  So, one of the first things I did after I hit send Tuesday morning, was call my MIL and say, “When do you want to see the movie?”

So yesterday was the day.  I’ve seen a lot of chat on Facebook and the loops about this movie.  About how laugh-out-loud funny is was.  And that it was a wonderful movie.  And it did have its moments.  I liked the movie.  I love Meryle Streep and Alec Baldwin was devilish in his role.  I loved the setting, Santa Barbara, I loved the food.  Mmm, I wanted to come home, smoke a joint (watch the movie and you’ll know why!) and bake chocolate croissants! 


But here’s what I didn’t like about the movie: It didn’t end the way I wanted it to end.  It ended the way the main character, Merlye Streep, wanted it to end.  Which as a writer made me think:  What if I’m writing away and the ending I chose for my heroine or hero is not what my readers would choose?  Who wins?  Me or the reader?

I’m really bugged about this.  Here’s the thing, I sold a trilogy to Berkley: The Blood Moon trilogy. Two brothers, one women they both would fight to the death to love and protect.  Book one is the heroine and hero bro number ones love story. Book two she is kidnapped by hero nemesis other brother, and falls in love with him too, and in book three, they, both brothers and the heroine, must form a cohesive relationship to save their race.  Or in English a HEA ménage.  But, what if these two alpha brothers just can’t share? Trust me, getting the brothers to put aside their machismo and their inherent territorial tendencies aside, did not come easy. When I wrote the proposal, I was adamant the three live happily ever after, but, as I get more into the story I’m realizing my heroine, tho’ she loves them both, may end up with just one.  It will be a difficult choice.  But I think I already know which brother she will choose and why, but what if my readers blow a gasket because one, they want her to pick the other brother or two, they insist the three of them live happily ever after?

It’s like when you are happily reading along and bam!  The author kills someone you cared about.  I have literally set a book down and refused to pick it back up because I no longer trust the author.  Geez, as I’m typing this I realized I killed off a wonderful secondary character that I cared about in the book I just wrapped up.  But he had to die!  For the story! <Drops head in hands> I know I’m going to get hate mail. 

 I’ve kind of sorta answered my question.  But that said, I’m not so sure had I known how It’s Complicated ended, if I would have gone to see it. 

Am I being overly concerned here?  How do you feel about stories that end differently than you had wanted them to?

 Karin the Konfused


  1. J. Carson Black

    Karin, usually, with the kind of books I read—mostly crime fiction and thrillers, many of them series—they end pretty much the way I’m going to think they’ll end. That’s not to say the experience isn’t rich, or there aren’t surprises, but we are dealing with a genre, and the expectations are as big there as in any other genre.

    But C.J. Box’s BLUE HEAVEN just about broke my heart. However, I realized after I took a few deep breaths that he had laid the groundwork for that particular ending all the way through, and it was a masterful story—one of the best books of the year.

    Now you’re getting me paranoid, because I kill off someone, too, almost halfway through the book…

    But sometimes I a goil’s gotta do what a goil’s gotta do.

  2. Edie

    I usually read books with the h/h clear from the beginning. WF is trickier. I LOVED the end of Avatar. Perfect. I hated the end of The Departed. But two men is harder, though I’m guessing in the third book the one you have the heroine choose will emerge stronger and better for the heroine and by the end the reader will agree with you.

    I just thought of this. In Little Women, one of my favorite books of all time, I always thought Jo picked the wrong hero. If I’d written the book, she would have ended up with Laurie and not the professor. But the book wasn’t a love story, it was a story of her journey. So I could still love it the book.

  3. Edie

    Oops, I realize my comment is a bit disjointed. Oh well. That’s how I’m feeling today.

  4. HollyD

    The only time I’ve been very disappointed about the ending of a book was when I read a 6 book series in romance that did not have a happily ever after. That sucked.

    Your writing rocks and I have no doubt these new books will be fantastic who/whom ever the lady ends up with.

  5. Kendra

    Jake, I read Blue Heaven for the first time last week. What a fantastic book! And yes, the ending was heartwrenching but satisfying at the same time.

    Good luck, Karin. I’ve read a few books where the heroine ends up with two guys. Or more. The author has to work hard to sell the relationship(s) to the reader.

  6. Bonnie H

    If the story is good enough, or the characters engaging enough (or both) I can deal with some pretty heavy disappointment. It’ll take me a few days (or more, depending) to process it – but some of the most moving love stories, to me, are WAY tragic.
    Examples? Braveheart – WTF?! I NEVER saw that coming – seriously I thought his pals were going to save the day. I was PISSED. Then I let it stew for awhile and ended up seeing it 3 more times in the theater and buying it on DVD.
    Gladiator – holy crap, have you ever seen a man cry his heart out like Russell Crowe did when he got home? My heart broke! And then the ending!!! Oy vay!!
    Time Traveler’s Wife. The most tragic love story I’ve ever read. I cry my EYES out every time I read it. And my copy is so dog-eared, its actually falling apart.
    So maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I don’t think so. I think I can just REALLY appreciate a GOOD story.

  7. Karin Tabke

    Jake a goil does have to do what a goil has to do! Now I want to read Blue Heaven!

  8. Karin Tabke

    Kendra, i have never read a story where i really bought the 3 x HEA. But, in MY story I do. I think because the heroes never fully buy into it, in that they are total dominant alphas who do not share. but they are also not willing to give up their woman. even if it means sharing her. but…things might change…

  9. Karin Tabke

    Edie, I can’t wait to go see Avatar. Maybe next week when my revisions are off my desk.

  10. Karin Tabke

    not worry, edie! i’m feeling a bit disjointed myself.

  11. Karin Tabke

    Holly, that would irk me too! 🙂 thank you for the support. I think you will love this next book!

  12. Karin Tabke

    Bonnie, you just might be a glutton for punishment! I still have not watched Titanic because I know how it ends and I don’t wand to be depressed! I’m such a wuss. I remember seeing Romeo and Juliet in the theater when I was a girl. I cried for weeks, was depressed for months. like i said, i’m a wuss.

  13. Colleen MacLeod

    I think Bonnie is right. If it’s a good ending, if it makes sense for the characters, the readers will accept it although it may take a while. If the readers get pissed and don’t like it, well they should get busy writing their own damn stories!

    I had an existential meltdown at the end of POC:At Worlds End, lliterally sobbing out loud in the theater and embarrassing the hell out of my friends and hubby, because I so wanted them to be together, but that ending was absolutely right for that movie, so I got over it.

    Of course, this is from someone who is notorious for reading the ending of a book before committing to buy! I don’t like being cheated out of my HEA! But if it’s an author I like and trust, I’ll definately go along for the ride.

    In the end, it’s your story.


  14. B.E. Sanderson

    I’m thinking as long as you lay the groundwork for a possible 3x, your readers won’t be upset. I just hate when something hits me out of the blue. Patterson’s 1st to Die comes to mind. You’re reading along, expecting a HEA, and BAM! he pulls the rug out. Bastard.

    Having your heroine get two heroes for the price of one (must be cliche day for me), is way better than forcing her to have none.

  15. Michele

    i always enjoy the “happily ever after” which is why i got into reading the romance novels to escape my own not “so happily ever after” i am not one who believes all she reads but i do enjoy to have the HEA that i would like, that being said i am not the authur and i enjoy your Blood Sword Books so i will always love the good read…and accept the ending as you see fit even if i had other ideas…i might even cry but i would still by another of your books

  16. Terry Odell

    We have “It’s Complicated” on our ‘try to get out to a REAL movie someday soon” list. I don’t want to read your blog until I’ve seen it. I don’t like spoilers!

    But I like books to end in a relatively predictable way. When I’m reading romance, I expect a HEA of some sort or another. When I’m reading mystery, I expect the crime to be solved at the end of the book.

    In series, I don’t mind some open-ended endings, as long as they’re not sneaky — like one where the phone rings at the end of the book and it’s one of 3 possible women, but then there’s no next page to see who it was. That’s cheating, in my book.

  17. LaDonna

    Karin, don’t worry about the ending. Just follow your heart like you always do. Sometimes, the books I remember the most break my heart. People die in real life, and hearts get broken.

    In my debut book, a beloved character died. I remember talking to those two characters when I saw where they were taking me, and asking them again…are you sure it has to go that way? And yes, I’m absolutely sure that it did too. So, if one guy loses out, like in your story, he learned something in the process, everybody did. 🙂 Can’t wait to read them too!

  18. Bonnie H

    LOL – you could be right Karin. But TITANIC!! Oh, I love that movie. Really just done so well, gorgeous music – the whole thing. Even though you “know” the ending.

  19. J. Carson Black

    Kendra – It was fantastic, wasn’t it? Talk about a great protagonist. If you liked that book, you might want to look at A COLD DISH by Craig Johnson. And NO MERCY, by Murder She Writes own Lori Armstrong–it just came out!

  20. Diane W

    Let’s look at my all time favorite love story, Gone With The Wind. Who wasn’t cheering for Scarlett as she raced home to Rhett to tell him that she loved him and not Ashley? My heart breaks each time Rhett says he doesn’t “give a damn” and walks away and Scarlett is left waiting for tomorrow, “after all, tomorrow is another day”. Not the way I wanted the book to end but the ending was pure genius. Not a traditional HEA but the only way the story could end.
    As far as the the manage is concerned, I have read many stories that involve a threesome, and for me personally, I enjoy an ending where you have one woman and one man. Just the kinda’ girl I am! A HEA with a threesome is okay if it is true to the characters story, but I still find myself rooting for one hero over the other. I also enjoy the emotional journey if a choice is made between the two heroes. Not to mention the added benefit of another story for the second hero as he searches for his own HEA.

  21. Micole Black

    How do I feel when a story ends and it’s not the way I want it to?

    I am bummed. Disappointed. Maybe even sad, but being the writer I am, I make up an ending that I am happy with! 🙂


    Micole Black

  22. Karin Tabke

    Fine! I’ll order it from netflix!

  23. Karin Tabke

    Colleen, I too will read the ending of a story if I have the slightest suspicion it is not going to end well.

  24. Karin Tabke

    Beth there is groundwork for sure, and i’m pretty sure my readers will want the 3x HEA, but what if I mess with the happy trio? Make one have to go?? and write a fourth book with him finding everlasting love?

  25. Karin Tabke

    Terry did you see the movie?

  26. Karin Tabke

    LaD, thank you! I do give my characters free will and free rein. Stand by for the story to unfold!

  27. Karin Tabke

    Diane, I LOVE GWTW! I read it the first time when I was twelve and sort of got it, then read it like five times in high school. I never once doubted Scarlett got Rhett back. Nevah, evah!

  28. Karin Tabke

    Micole, i am bummed and sad too! i want to be happy at the end!

    great idea about making up our own hea. that’s what i did with scarlett and rhett.

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