Some things I learned from… Courtney Milan


Some things I learned from…

Courtney Milan

There were so many things I learned from this amazing, inspiring, super-smart woman (whom I hope doesn’t remember me from a bar of soap because I know I made a complete dick of myself while talking to her) that it’s truly difficult to pick and choose from them! But for me, Courtney’s key-note talk on the hot-button topic of Romance and the Unrealistic, Predictable Happy Ending was the talk that had the most profound impact.

Why is this such a hot-button topic? I hear you ask.

Hands up if you’ve ever — as a writer or reader of romance — heard people disparage the romance genre? *raises hand*

Hands up if you’ve ever — as a writer or reader of romance — had people diss the genre because of its love of happy endings? *raises hand* 

And hands up if you’ve ever — as a writer or reader of romance — seen articles claiming that romance novels give women unrealistic expectations? *raises hand*

Well, this talk was for all of us who’ve ever been made to feel embarrassed or stupid or less (for want of a better word) because of our love of romance and its predictable happy ever after. And man, was it powerful, emotional, heart-breaking stuff. (And yes, as I tweeted at the time, many tears were shed because it was impossible to remain unmoved.)

So here’s a summary of what I learned from Courtney during her talk at our RWNZ Conference on Sunday, 16th August 2014.

Romance and the Unrealistic, Predictable Happy Ending

by Courtney Milan

  • Disparaging comments and looking down on those who read or write the romance genre stems in a large part from the idea that happiness takes no work. It’s the romance writer’s job to show that happiness does take work.
  • Love isn’t easy. Happiness isn’t merely the absence of sadness.
  • Happy Ever Afters are the result of conflict, tension, sadness, and clashes between the two main characters. It’s showing that these two people are better together than apart. It’s writing a story where the reader can trust that the hero and heroine are going to make it in the end.
  • Happiness isn’t what people think won’t happen.
  • Anyone, no matter what their circumstances, no matter who they are, can find love. And this is not unrealistic. This is why we have romance novels!
  • Romance novels have always depicted the lives women lead.
  • We write romance as an act of creation, believing that we can be happy, and that we deserve happiness.
  • Romance novels help us face reality, not escape it.
  • Romance novels are not giving us unrealistic expectations; they are giving us hope.


RWNZ2014, Courtney Milan


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4 Responses to “Some things I learned from… Courtney Milan”

  1. Jo says:

    Thanks for posting this Maree, I couldn’t make the conference so it’s awesome to get a little snippit of wisdom.

  2. Hi Maree – I missed that talk altogether and heard afterwards how wonderful it was. Thanks for posting it. Le Big Sigh!

    • Isn’t that always the way, Rowena? I found it was VERY hard to choose between workshops and talks this year. I wish Courtney’s talk had been taped/podcast – she’s an amazing lady with so much to share that’s relevant to women and writers.