I was contemplating how to make a happy ending of this romance novella, and of course, this being a romance novella, the young couple end up together and happy. But what about the other conflicts?
Does a happy ending mean everything is all wrapped up in the ending? That the conflicts presented at the beginning of the story are all resolved happily?
I'm thinking no. Much of the "contrivance" and "deus ex machina" that annoy us as readers will come from trying to resolve every conflict happily. That is, it's not like a god needs to intervene to make two young people fall in love-- that's the way of nature. But to make a poor person rich? To heal the lame leg? If these are not the main plot-- where the protagonist works the whole book to resolve this conflict or achieve the aim-- then it's going to take an outside event, like the death of a rich aunt or the charity of a miraculous surgeon, to solve that problem.
In fact, having every conflict neatly resolved, especially by miracle, could cast doubt on your entire ending. So what MUST be in the ending? Probably the resolution of the main plot, the genre plot (those are usually the same--- a murder investigation is usually the main plot of a mystery, and a romance is usually the main plot of a romance) should happen. (Satisfactory, not necessarily happy.) But the other conflicts? If they aren't resolved BY the plot, by the action of the main characters, then maybe they shouldn't all be resolved.
For example, I am working on a romance where the young man is poor, and this is a real problem. But the heroine decides she loves him anyway, thus resolving the romantic plot. Now I really think if his aunt dies and leaves him a million pounds, that will render irrelevant the heroine's sacrifice of her plans for a wealthy marriage. So I think I'm just going to leave him poor. Okay, he's a poet, so I'll let some success at least glimmer at the end, but poetic greatness has so seldom meant wealth! So they'll be poor but happy. Works for me. :)
So when you think about your own stories, what do you think must be resolved satisfactorily? What would you leave unresolved?