Wednesday, June 6, 2012

MERGE Blog Tour: Guess Post by Yvonne Reid

Today I'll be featuring a guess post by Yvonne Reid. Don't forget to visit 1889 Lab for more info on the other Blog Tour stops. Remember to enter the GIVEAWAYS. You can win an iPad and other awesome goodies!! You will find the Rafflecopter forms and details below.


by Yvonne Reid 

Someone asked me which I prefer, stories where the characters live happily ever after, or stories where everyone dies, and after a lot of thought, I have to say I prefer the happy stuff, by a thin margin. But it's not quite as easy as it sounds, because I also like a healthy amount of bloodshed and misery. But I think the two are fully compatible, if you do it right. 

See, in most HEA (happily ever after) stories, there's a point somewhere around the middle where you know that things are going to work out OK for everyone, and that the plot is working its way towards a resolution where bows will be tied neatly, dreams fulfilled, and kisses delivered. To me, that kind of tidiness takes all the fun out of reading, like when you watch a TV series so many times you can predict the exact minute the "twists" will happen. Sure, you can still squeeze enjoyment out of the journey, but at a certain point, you, as the reader, are starting to look at events and character traits as the pieces of the puzzle that will come together into a neat resolution. The second I'm contemplating craft in a book, I'm not living that world anymore. 

Now on the other hand, doom and gloom books just rub me the wrong way. If I read five hundred pages of awesomeness, only to have the heroes fail and the treasure lost, I'm going to be in a very bad mood for days. Sure, there are sometimes when weepy catharsis can be a nice way to spend a rainy afternoon, but when you've invested so much in the characters that they're like family, and then just ruthlessly slit their throats... that's not storytelling, that's psychological warfare against a powerless enemy. Again, sometimes that approach is warranted, but sometimes it's just mean, and I think it's far easier to accidentally be mean, than to be good.

My favored approach is something of a mix of the two. I want the heroes to succeed in their quest, to come out the other side more or less in victory, but I want to keep the reader guessing every last step of the way. The characters shouldn't live happily ever after, they should be happy to be alive, and praying to God their lives get boring from then on. You may have a key group of protagonists, but in order to meet my definition of a good ending, only ONE of them has to make it to the end alive. The key to a good story is to make sure everyone knows right off the bat that nobody is off-limits, and the blade of dramatic resonance will swing without mercy.

The easiest way to do this is what I like to call the “easy-omg-easy” approach to writing, which you actually see in manuals for electronics and such. In a good manual, the first few pages are the dead-easy stuff, giving the user a false sense of security about the journey about to embark on. “See the remote? Put in the batteries. Good job! You’re a genius!” Five pages later, you’re soldering on component chips you stole from a top secret military installation in the Appalachians while speaking fluent Cantonese with a Russian accent. See how fast things went downhill? That’s what you want to do to your characters. Take the status quo and beat it to within an inch of its life.

This technique achieves two things: first, it throws the characters off-balance, which is shorthand for “easy drama.” You want conflict? Force your characters to adapt to tricky situations they’re unprepared for. But better than that, it keeps your readers from knowing what’s coming next. No craft visible, because you’re in a free-fall, and NOBODY knows how far to rock bottom. When you finally hit it, it’ll be a fun climb back up to the status quo.

So yeah. I don’t like happy endings, and I don’t like sad endings. I like satisfying endings; the literary equivalent of: “That’s it! You’re all done! Now sit back and enjoy your new television set.”

* * *

Yvonne Reid began life as a technical writer in the consumer electronics sector, where she learned vital skills such as character development, plot, and dramatic tension. In recent years, she has given up that artistic background for the more hum-drum life of a novelist. Yvonne's projects include the series MERGE, and the upcoming Ascension collection of books. She lives with her dog and parakeet in the midwest, where bread-maker manuals are the main source of entertainment.


(1) One lucky reader will win an iPad.
(2) Second place will win e-copies of all 13 stories, plus a $10 iTunes or Amazon voucher.
(3) Third place will receive a $10 iTunes/Amazon voucher, plus e-copies of one of the 4 authors' MERGE stories (their choice).
Winners will be announced on June 20th, 1889 Labs' 6th birthday.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2 ebook copies of Long Way Down. Giveaway ends 6/15

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. At first I doubted this Blog Tour thing accompanying Merge, but then I decided I could afford a little time every day for each entry, and improve my chances of winning that iPad.

    But I've found that I am liking it a lot, such as in this case.

    It has been a very informative reading from an author. Many of Yvonne's points I agree with, and some not so much, but still she has given voice to some interesting ideas. For that I thank her and bookityblog!

  2. Thanks for the international giveaway!!

    Rafflecopter name - Rosemarie D

  3. I get what you mean about a satsifying ending. I do prefer the happy ending but it can't come too easy. Some conflict is always good and even some bad things along the way. When put together it can make for a very interesting story, and should there be good happy ending in the end well that makes it even sweeter.

  4. I always enjoy realistic endings. If the ending feels out of tune with the rest of the work I get frustrated. The greater the conflict and struggle the characters must go through, the greater the payoff I anticipate. Anticlimaxes are only good for humourous purposes and you should never end an otherwise serious work with one.

  5. I agree with what Yvonne Reid said! Though I prefer most, if not all, of the books I read to have HEAs but movies, I can settle for any kind of ending, whether happy or sad.

    Thank you for the giveaway!

  6. I don't have to have a HEA but I do expect the ending to be believable based on the path that has led us there.

  7. Agree with Yvonne. I like the happy ending stories but not that too-easy-to-predict one.

  8. That's a good point...happy endings and pat endings shouldn't have to be one and the same! (But I definitely dislike sad ones...)


  9. What a great post! It makes many good points. I know I like dreary as much as the next person, but if the ending is really sad, it sticks with me for a while.

  10. I like satisfying endings too. Thanks for the nice post.


  11. I have the same opinion, I like satisfying endings too. In the real world there is no people who live happily ever after or only drama.

  12. Yep, happy endings are just too over the top but hey, it can be a good source of hope in life, too.

  13. i totally agree with yvonne. most HEAs are very predictable and it'd make the story boring. sure, the protagonists should be kicking ass and all; but the story's gonna be lame if they won't win whatever they're fighting for AND it's gonna suck big time! readers would be whining! lol


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