[Think Aloud] – #22 – Ships Don’t Sink…They Turn Into Shipmarines

Think Aloud explores book-related discussions encompassing reading, writing, blogging, and perhaps newsworthy content. The focus is to push the boundaries, stretch the mind, and encourage dialogue within this community. Let’s all think out loud.


Table Topic:
Ships Don’t Sink…
They Turn Into Shipmarines


Happily-ever-afters don’t restrict the possibility of [previous] ships happening in the future.


Let’s be honest now—

Stories following ships you can ride-or-die with typically make for better reads. Unless you don’t agree with the main canon. Then the entire “shipping” dynamic nuances the overall likeness to a story. 

This is a problem reader’s face when their potential “one-true-pairing” treads murky waters and ends up sinking. Devastating, right?


But you know what? While the story might “suggest” your ship has sunk, until it’s known that the characters riding your Love Boat have legitimately died (which I highly doubt), let me tell you that your ship has actually evolved (…devolved?) into a fucking submarine/shipmarine.

I repeat: your ship has evolved into a shipmarine.

That’s right—end-game relationships of any story have a chance at imploding. Slim, maybe, but it’s a chance nonetheless. (I’m sorry if your world is crumbling now.) If/when it does happen: what an opportune moment to will your submarine to re-emerge squeaky clean, with its missiles of feels at the ready for another round of ship wars. You are the captain of your ship after all.


This is why people can’t have nice things; realistic fiction is a bitch and what no one tells you is that the happy-ever-afters, sunsets and rainbows, and “happy go lucky” shit on the last page could be part of a bigger story reflected in the drama that fills up your social media feed or the rising divorce statistic (assuming marriage is end-game—you don’t need some document to be happy).

Hope is the game here.

Not the hope that their ship combusts (that’s just rude to egg on) but rather the hope that the possibility of your ship [still] exists; perhaps in a parallel universe or just later in life. This isn’t to say that characters with unrequited feelings should stake it out until [something] happens. No…that’d be stupid (and rather creepy). Instead, the focus of being a shipmarine is that the romance-driven narratives dealing with the “years later” aspect of a teetering relationship is a realistic story of contention.

A possible timeline to not give up on.

Things happen; life happens, and if it does, then submarines revert back to ships for all to see. Because really: high school sweethearts, princes and princesses, star crossed lovers, bad boys and good girls, and everything in-between—however you want to slice this relationship cake—everyone is fair game to Cupid snapping that love arrow of his that once bound a couple. And when it happens, maybe you can hear the gratuitous laughter of cynical realism.

Cupid’s seriously a bitch.

*dropping dat mic*

Afterthought Prompts:

1) What is your opinion on “happily-ever-after…the end” endings? Do you ever consider future “what-ifs”?

2) What merits a “shippable” couple to you? (The bantering? The slow burn? The balancing of personalities?)

3) Have there ever been ships [you didn’t enjoy reading] that made you stop reading the story altogether?

4) Favourite ship? Worst? Somewhere-in-the-middle?

And you should totally share this post with anyone who is feeling under when ships sink (because they don’t!).

As always, think aloud. 


connect: afterthoughtAn // twitter  |  anotherafterthought // goodreads


Post Inspiration:

This just happened. It might seem like I’m anti-romance—I’m not—just trying to shed some light on realism. There’s a quote from Richard Linklater’s Boyhood (2014) film that basically exemplifies what I’m trying to say:

“You know how everyone’s always saying ‘seize the moment’? I don’t know, I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around, you know, like the moment seizes us.”

I’m hoping I can finalize my ideas for a follow-up post to the ideas presented here. (I would love to make this feature a Thursday thing but I can’t think of ideas and write it fast enough.)


14 thoughts on “[Think Aloud] – #22 – Ships Don’t Sink…They Turn Into Shipmarines”

  1. Nope, nope, nope – when a book ends in a HEA – THAT’S IT. I will live in my happy little bubble and assume they are in love and have the best relationship forever and ever.

    No, seriously, that’s how I think. I don’t think anything beyond the end of the book. There IS no other end.

    I admit that lately I am tired of unrealistic HEA’s. I’ve been really drawn to marriage-in-crisis books, because I like the realism in them. It’s how real life is – marriage isn’t easy! But even with those books, most of them have a HEA. I’ve only read one that left it open to the reader to decide. And, I didn’t like that. Regardless how bad things get in the book – I expect some sort of happy ending to make the read worthwhile for me. I NEED EVERYONE TO BE HAPPY AND IN LOVE, JOEY. Or I’m depressed and wtf why did I even read it. LOL.

    A ‘shippable’ couple to me is all those things you said, but I think also the mindset of never giving up on their other person is important to me in a story. Proving they have staying power and are devoted – so I CAN envision a true HEA. I’m not completely delusional and know that a large percentage of relationships/marriages don’t work out (I have been a victim of many), but call me old fashioned – I choose to think real HEA’s exist. So when they happen at the end of my book, I’m gonna chose to believe that’s IT. 😉


  2. Oh Lord, I had to look up cynical realism, and the painting associated with it is quite alarming, and it makes me want to research contemporary Chinese art and incorporate that into a NaNo project. Oooh! Thank you for mentioning those two words, I just got an idea!
    1. I like happily ever afters just fine, but I can be sadistic and want the worst ending possible to which I will cackle. I bet you think I’m joking but I’m as serious as a heart attack. Oh, quite frequently although not always, definitely in the cases of Gone, Shatter Me, THG, Allegiant, etc.
    2. I’m not quite sure if I really ship characters. I mean, SOMETIMES, and I always use the term but sometimes I just like the aspects of one character. Take Maven for example, I like villains. No, actually, I LOOOOOOOOVVVVVE villains. So. I will say if someone asks me, “I SHIP MAVEN AND MARE. MAVEN IT UP ( I doubt you care but there’s this blogger named Liran, and Liran has this fan account dedicated to CAL-ing IT UP. But, we had this joking (I hope) disagreement about how it should be MAVEN IT UP, although I do not have an emotional attachment to Maven more that I love villains, and so automatically it’s him) However, I don’t really think they’re best for each other, and honestly I don’t really care, just more badass action, please and thank you. Same goes for ToG. TEAM CELAENAAAAAAAA.
    3. My problem is, if I DNF I don’t care anymore, I never cared, so I don’t remember the characters…LOL.
    4. Juliet & Warner from the Shatter Me series. WARNER. Did I mention I like a good villain? Warner is an excellent villain, or rather written super well. If you haven’t read this series, please consider adding it to your TBR. Worst ship? Oh, mercy. Why, I *can’t* remember. Somewhere in the middle? Astrid & Sam, they’re another ship I enjoyed somewhat. That doesn’t ring a bell? Ahem. My reaction: JOEYYOUHAVEN’TREADGONE?! WHYHOWWHY?
    You need to read the Gone series, PLEASSSEEEE. I think you might find some pleasure in it more than Messenger of Fear. It really IS a must read.

    I’ll share this a million times because this just gave me a new idea for my NaNo project. YAAAAAAAAAAAY. THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS POST.


  3. I love this. I’m pretty content with happy endings but of course my mind does automatically wonder to the what ifs of the situation. And it occurs in the reverse for me as well! I tend to enjoy happy endings or resolved endings better than open endings.
    When I have an ultimate ship I stick with it to the end! I’m loyal to their relationship and I will happily ride in the submarine that is my ship. 😁😂



    If an author of a series, say, Cassandra Clare broke up the main couple after SIX BOOKS, I’d be so mad. Ugh, just thinking the possibility that my OTPs have broken up after the end of stories just hurts. T_T All reason and realism is thrown out the window when you’re a fangirl with her ships. 😛

    But speaking of HEAs. I’m not a huge advocate for them. A good ending doesn’t have to be happy one. So I don’t mind if some of the characters in the love polygons aren’t alive by the end (or something equally as devastating happens). On the other hand, if they all died I would be peeved that the author pulled a Shakespeare. I never was invested in the Jomeo/Ruliet ship because I always knew they’d die. It’s kind of like why bother shipping a couple to only be disappointed, you know? (I think I’m just rambling by now…)

    As for your discussion question about not rooting for a ship and then discontinuing a book… I don’t think that really applies to me? Since you’ve already seen the HP movies you probably know who ends up with who. I enjoyed the friendships in HP more than the romance, mainly because Rowling probably wanted it to be that way anyway. The world and magic being the primary focus. So I didn’t feel like there was great chemistry between the couples but I still continued the series. So I think if a book has romances but the couples aren’t shippable, but the story itself is a worthy read… I’ll continue! (Hope that makes sense, by the end of long comments I don’t really know what I’ve just typed, lol.)


  5. I’m going to try and keep this brief for once 😉
    1) I really, really prefer HEA over open endings in my books. Most of the time when it comes to couples I don’t really consider the what-ifs; I might consider the “what-ifs” of the other plot lines but rarely the relationship.

    2) For me, characters that have a strong emotional connection and just “get” each other are my “ships”. I like couples that are partners and complement each other.

    3) Oh boy! The love triangle in Nightshade by Andrea Cremer takes the cake. I didn’t stop reading because of Calla and Shay but I was damn close. Team Ren forever ❤

    4) Fav: Dmitri and Rose from Vampire Academy. Least: Calla and Shay from Nightshade.


  6. A brilliant, yet disturbing, point. When my ship has gone through hell and high water before finally reaching HEA, I hate to think that it will degenerate into cheating, general misery, and/or that horrible bitch called cancer ten years down the road. On the other hand, people do reconnect with old flames years down the line IRL, so why not in fictional universes?

    This is way too personal, but you are all strangers, so let me tell you a little story. Back in the early 1970s, my 15 year old sister was in mute, anguished love with the son of a family friend. He was five years older than her, and treated her like a little sister. She grew up, dated a guy in high school, dated another guy in college. Her first love got married, and I counted how much champagne she drank at his wedding–seven glasses, if I remember right. She married her college boyfriend, even though he was of a different religion and had mental health issues, resulting in his conviction that she was going to hell unless she converted. Thirty miserable years later, she finally left him.

    Guess who she’s dating now?

    Her shipmarine has resurfaced!


  7. So true. When I read, I admit that I don’t necessarily want realism – I’m a sucker for the HEA. But I’ve definitely had these thoughts before. That lots of my HEAs in real life would end sometime later – I try to ignore that niggling thought. 🙂 I do have an easier time believing in HEAs though because my husband I started dating in high school and are still happily married 23 years later!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


  8. I love this post. I like it when romances are left with an open ending. I don’t want an epilogue saying that they grew up and married and had kids, and some dogs and a house with a picket fences blah blah blah.
    I want the ship to be left hanging, because come on, we should be realistic. How many high school relationships last for a lifetime?


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