Sunday 26 October 2014

Happy Endings In Fiction - Would Opening a Shop be Yours?

Why do so many chic lit novels rely on a shop opening for their happy ending? It always makes me wonder if the author has ever worked in a shop.

The other day I had to put a book down because the main character, the owner of a brand new cafe, had just taken her first twenty pounds and wanted to splash out on a celebratory dinner. 

Twenty pounds! I scoffed. Twenty pounds wouldn't even cover the dinner let alone her rent, rates, overheads, stock...

I was brought up in an independent shop. It was hard work and it always felt like we were on the brink of a crisis. Sometimes we'd have a whole week where all we sold was a discounted picture frame and a light bulb. We'd start to think of desperate measures to get the cash flow going. We'd redo the window display, use shoe polish to write a big SALE sign. We didn't have anywhere near the resources chain shop have.    
In fiction, opening a shop is much simpler. A business savvy (and gorgeous) bloke will always pop up out of the blue and be moved by the heroine's superior product (chocolate truffles more chocolaty than all the chocolate in Belgium) and want to invest, or at least, help her make a proper business plan. 

But so what if shop-opening-inspired-happy-endings aren't realistic? It's fiction and I love a bit of escapism as much as anyone. Whatsmore my brother seems to be fulfilling his dream by opening a skate shop. Just because it's not my idea of a happy ending, doesn't mean it's not yours. 

But before you open a shop... consider these pros and cons!



Your Income isn't Guaranteed

2. You Have to Open on Saturdays

3. Customers Know about the Internet


1. You are the Boss

2. You Can Wear What You Want

3. You can write a blog about working in your shop and then get it published... 

Buy Shop Girl Diaries 

I do still get nostalgic about Saturday afternoons in my shop when the local Salsa addict and my cousin would come around, and we'd drink rum and dance salsa, stopping occasionally to sell and pack up a lamp. Working with my Mum was also hilarious. I couldn't have written Shop Girl Diaries if I hadn't started seeing the funny side of shop life... so, although opening a shop wouldn't be my happy ending, I'm glad I got to be a Shop Girl for a while.  

What about you? Would opening your own shop be your happy ending? 

Sign up to my monthly newsletter for updates on my talks and books!


Mike said...

I'm writing a novel where the characters open a pub - but that's not their happy ending.

Maybe characters doing something in the public realm might make a tacit connection with the reader's identification with them?

Mike said...


Emily Benet said...

Yes, I'm sure you're right! Whatever it is, it needs to feel realistic, with some bumps to overcome so it doesn't feel too easy!

Opening a pub doesn't sound like a happy ending, but it's a great setting for a novel, with all those potential different characters coming in sharing their stories, having secret meetups, getting into fights, nicking beer mats... can't wait to read it! :)

Mike said...

They get up to far worse that nicking beermats in that bar!

Emily Benet said...

@Mike Well I should hope so! What's the point of setting it in a pub otherwise? :)