Baggage, that is. A few months ago, when I was looking at my latest WIP and trying to figure out how to make my characters, and their conflict, more compelling, I wanted to give them more internal reasons to stay apart. Specifically, I needed a very concrete, believable reason why two people who loved each other would have broken up. My heroine was the one who did the breaking up, and I decided to give her the unfortunate - but realistic, I thought - quality of being unable to have children. Her decision to break up with the hero was based on the fact that she had never told him, and he was from one of the most important, influential families in a major city. She couldn't give him an heir, but rather than tell him, she left him. Then, years later, they meet up, older and wiser, and one of the things they have to deal with is the truth about why she left, and what their future holds.
Originally, I liked it. I thought examining how two people interact in the face of something this big would provide me with a lot of conflict and emotion. Now, I'm beginning to wonder whether I went too far. Because here's the thing: people who read romance want the Happy Ending. I know that. And my hero and heroine get the happy ending - they choose to be together, anyway, and to deal with whatever life has in store for them, children or not. But I wonder if the idea of two people falling in love and deciding to marry WITHOUT the possibility of biological children is too depressing, for the sake of a better word. I wonder if romance readers want something lighter to deal with, conflict that isn't so heavy, conflict that can be wrapped up so everything the future holds is shiny and bright.
Part of this comes from the fact that Kristin Nelson, who had been reading my partial, sent me the polite but firm "No" yesterday afternoon. Now, I know from reading her blog that she likes quirky chick lit, for the most part. And that's not what I write. Should I have sent her a query? Maybe, maybe not. She requested the partial, anyway.
I also, in reading over this WIP for a third revision, wonder myself if sometimes the issues are too heavy, esp. for the romance genre. Let's face it: a lot of things in life are depressing. We read to escape that, right? So maybe most readers won't want to read about a woman who lost the ability to have children when she was 19. That's not exactly a happy thought.
So I am putting this novel away for a little while and moving on to something a little lighter. We'll see. I do have a lot of ideas jumbling around in my brain, so perhaps I'll take some time to see who'll win out.
Any thoughts? Are there variations in happy endings? And how much do you want to wade through on your way there?