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Rom com with a non happy ending?

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KLNorman View Drop Down
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    Posted: 13 Jul 2019 at 11:02pm
Well I have a complete story that I kinda like at 999 words but my character doesn’t get the happy ending. There’s some romance, some comedy but no happy ending for the protagonist. I love to read happy endings but I love to write tragic ones!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote KLNorman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jul 2019 at 11:20pm
Can it still be a rom com?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lookit There Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jul 2019 at 11:32pm
I feel like that's kind of a prerequisite. One of the defining characteristics - to my understanding - is that we know how it will end (happily), but the artistry is in how we get there. 
I could be wrong - I'm no expert. But even if the ending isn't tragic, I'd be leery of messing with the formula.

**ETA** I just re-read the genre definition, and it doesn't say it has to end happily. So...maybe it's okay?


Edited by Lookit There - 13 Jul 2019 at 11:33pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TammyB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jul 2019 at 11:38pm
Originally posted by KLNorman KLNorman wrote:

Well I have a complete story that I kinda like at 999 words but my character doesn’t get the happy ending. There’s some romance, some comedy but no happy ending for the protagonist. I love to read happy endings but I love to write tragic ones!
Think about it. Casablanca is a romance. A classic romance by everyone’s standards. But there is no happy ending to that one. So I would say it is fine, unless it is a really tragic ending.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jennifer.quail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jul 2019 at 11:38pm
If it's the same sort of judging as SSC they want bog-standard ha-ha-funny rom com and those rarely have anything but HEA. If you deviate much from their examples (which have HEA) the forum may like it, the judges won't.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote SuperKarateMonkey Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jul 2019 at 11:39pm
I guess it depends on your ending. If it's just that your MC doesn't wind up with the person s/he wanted, but still ends on a hopeful or positive note overall, I think you're fine--that's like My Best Friend's Wedding, where Julia Roberts doesn't succeed in winning back Dermot Mulroney...but still has the platonic love of Rupert Everett (and, of course, dancing!).

But if it ends on a truly tragic note, I'd be more concerned about straying too far from the genre definition.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote TammyB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jul 2019 at 11:40pm
Originally posted by SuperKarateMonkey SuperKarateMonkey wrote:

I guess it depends on your ending. If it's just that your MC doesn't wind up with the person s/he wanted, but still ends on a hopeful or positive note overall, I think you're fine--that's like My Best Friend's Wedding, where Julia Roberts doesn't succeed in winning back Dermot Mulroney...but still has the platonic love of Rupert Everett (and, of course, dancing!).

But if it ends on a truly tragic note, I'd be more concerned about straying too far from the genre definition.
Good example.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote buffygirl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jul 2019 at 12:20am
Originally posted by TammyB TammyB wrote:

Think about it. Casablanca is a romance. A classic romance by everyone’s standards. But there is no happy ending to that one. So I would say it is fine, unless it is a really tragic ending.

Casablanca is not a Romantic Comedy ...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SDWatts Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jul 2019 at 12:25am
I've taken some classes for writing romance and one of the industry criteria is a HEA (happily ever after) or HFN (happily for now) ending or they won't consider it. I don't know if they'll disqualify you, but I think it will really hurt you with the judges. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote buffygirl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jul 2019 at 12:28am
I think you'll miss the boat if your Romantic Comedy doesn't have a happy ending for the protagonist. At the very least, make sure your story remains consistent with the NYCM definition, i.e. make sure it has "light, funny plotlines." If the ending is not light and funny, then it is not a romantic comedy.

Also:

And lastly, something my mom told me once (and I do not know where she got it from), was that in a tragedy (or probably also a drama), the protagonist changes, learns, or grows in some way. In a comedy, there is no growth of the protagonist. The character learns nothing. They stay the the same. I'm not sure if I'm getting that right, but just thought I'd share that thought too.

EDIT to add the word "romantic"


Edited by buffygirl - 14 Jul 2019 at 12:29am
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