1. Fiona
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    Fiona Member

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    Happy ending?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Fiona, Jan 27, 2011.

    I wondered what you all thought about the endings in novels....

    Do you prefer to have a happy ending?
    Will you mind if there is a sad/tragic/shocking ending?

    For me, as long as the story is strong and well written, I will enjoy it no matter how it ends.

    However, there is a certain amount of satisfaction in seeing a central character triumph over whatever issue they face during the story.

    I don't believe stories have to have a "happy ever after" ending, and, in fact, at times that feels totally inappropriate to the story.

    What do you think?
     
  2. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree that stories don't need to always have a happy ending. I do believe that an ending needs to be a reasonable conclusion to the story. Sometimes it is a happy ending. Sometimes bittersweet. Sometimes tragic.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I like an ending that fits the story. Some stories benefit from having a sad ending, while others benefit from happy or optimistic endings.
     
  4. Edward G
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    Edward G Banned

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    I'm with you on that one, Fiona. For me it's a matter of the ending satisfactorily finishing up the central conflict and the lose ends of the plot. It’s good if the ending can have some irony in it or a twist in the tale, but that’s not necessary by any means.

    That being said, you asked an either/or question, so if I had to choose, I prefer a happy ending. I see enough sad endings in real life. But what’s a sad ending?

    I mean a truly sad ending would be dark and depressing; i.e., the good guy fails and the bad guy wins and nothing but bad comes of it so that the entire moral of the story is that evil wins in the end.

    Most books don’t end that way. A truly bad ending is kind of like the second person narrative: it’s possible, it can work, but not very often.
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Honestly I usually prefer a happy ending but would rather have a horrible one that was strong than a limp wristed one.

    One of the best stories I have ever read is Brothers Bishop by Bart Yates. Gripping, fast paced, dark, tense rollercoaster book - that ended with a ride on the teacups complete with old fashioned carousel music. Has to be the most limp wristed, damp squib and any other cliche I can throw in there ending to a book ever. It is the only reason it is not in my top ten and I probably won't be reading it again. The suicide of the MC would have been a better ending.

    I have so far written one ambiguous, one happy and one really tragic ending.
     
  6. Pen
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    Pen Member

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    I have to echo what's been said- the ending should flow naturally from the plot, whether that is to a happy ending or a sad one. Often there's plenty of room to choose- either the hero carries the day or he doesn't, but if he fails it can often come off as a shaggy dog story. The minor threads can add variation- the hero can win, but at a terrible cost, or he can unwittingly sow the seeds of his downfall.

    A 100% happy ending can be very unsatisfying, just as a 100% sad ending makes the whole story seem futile. Still, I think to get to either of those extremes you really have to be consciously forcing it, which is its own warning sign, really.
     
  7. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    I prefer bitter sweet endings. Like, the MC loses something but gains another thing in return. A 100% happy ending can make me go 'Awww' and a bitter sweet ending will make feel complete but sad that it ended. 100% sad endings? Well, they just make me feel emo.
     
  8. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for this has helped me to decide to definitely include my epilogue. Allows for some positivity.

    My current ending is positive.
     
  9. Fiona
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    Fiona Member

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    This something I explored in my book. I wanted to have an ending that was happy, but not perfect. Real life isn't perfect, and often things do come at a cost and I wanted to reflect that in my writing. I never like or enjoy the totally sad, tragic ending, but I don't buy the "everything is perfect" version at times. There are just times where things are almost in the middle...I suppose when all is said and done, each story has its own version of a perfect ending, whether that is a happy or sad ending.

    Of course there are certain times when the reader wants the 'happily ever after' ending - and to give them anything less would feel like cheating. But I just don't believe it always has to be that way.
     
  10. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I usually prefer endings with hope, and hints that there are more stories to be told after this one is over. Endings where the main characters have resounding success, all evil is vanquished, and they celebrate their victory with a large banquet, strike me as a little bland.

    I have a story, yet to be told, where I plan for the main characters to fail with their mission. Just flat out fail, return home, and give up. The only thing that gets resolved in the end is character development, which makes the story end with a sliver of hope.
    I know it's risky and unconventional, and some readers will probably be disappointed, but I hope it will work for that particular story.
     
  11. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    I like sad endings as long as there's a sequel that ends happily. Also, the eventual happy ending would preferably have a large sacrifice involved, such as one character dying but the other(s) succeeding.
     
  12. impure
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    I like endings when the conflict hasn't been 100% resolved and the reader has to guess what happens next.
    Just, no cliff hangars, just no.
     
  13. N@asha
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    N@asha Member

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    For me, the best endings are the ones that stay with you long after you have finished reading.

    I especially love it when the writer does something totally unexpected, twists your entire perception of the story that you have invested in.....and makes you fall in love with the story all over again in a different way.

    It's a hard trick to master, but when done well the results can be exceptional.
     
  14. AxleMAshcraft
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    AxleMAshcraft Member

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    Personally I don't like the whole happy endings unless the book is directed toward a younger crowd (anywhere under thirteen I would say) Sometimes the happy endings are just overrated.
    In my last Novel that I finished in November I wrote the entire thing with an intentional tragic ending. It's strangely liberating but at the same time its sort of like slicing out a piece of yourself and killing it. (Note: in my case, my MC was killed in the end in a way that made it look like suicide) I have to say, killing my MC was one of the biggest writing hurdles that I have ever had to come over. But once you get there it's amazing, you feel like you could write anything.
    another sort of ending that I always like to read or write (it applies to my novel that I mentioned up above) is where the bad guy, in a way gets away with whatever he did (in my case it was the men who killed my MC) Its a bittersweet learning moment that not everything goes ok in the end.
    Thats just me though, if your looking at this from an authors standpoint, if your looking for advice on what your writing it's up to you. I think that there are suitable crowds for each...
     
  15. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I like endings which aren't so black and white as in death of the MC or triumph of good over evil. Despite the death of an MC some stories can somehow force me to be optimistic, and despite the triumph of good over evil some stories can portray a deep sense of lost. I think such endings resonate and stay with the readers long after the story is being read. And I think it takes more skill to write such an ending.
     
  16. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    The ending should fit the theme of the book and the promises you given to you readers throughout the book.

    Happy/Sad ending is just one one aspect of it, Open/Closed ending is another.
     
  17. Leo
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    Leo Senior Member

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    I usually find in what I read that the happy endings are the most satisfying and enjoyable, but the sad ones are the the ones that stay with me the longest.

    For example, the best ending I have ever read was that of Hemingway's 'A Farewell to Arms', which was very tragic, but very powerful. However, most of the time I prefer to read lighter stuff with has a good old happy ending. Does anyone really want every book they read to have a powerful, meaningful message? I know I don't.
     
  18. Tesgah
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    Tesgah Member

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    It all depends on how attached I become to the characters. If I really like a character, then I always prefer endings which ends happily for him/her. I also hate whenever antagonists that I loathe win at the end. Such endings can really break a book unless it is very well justified.
     
  19. Jonias
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    Jonias Member

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    This is me. :)

    Good wins, main character loses, basically.

    Books that appear to have morally repugnant conclusions or in which the MC ends up with NOTHING but pain and heartache are usually just painful experiences for the readers...unless they are trying to "say" something, or leave you thinking. In cases like those, a sad ending can work really well.
     
  20. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    I hate happy endings.
     
  21. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    Reminds me of how I felt about the movie Buried.
    Spoiler Warning:

    When he died at the end, it somehow felt like there was no point to the story at all. Through the entire movie, you wanted him to survive, to be found, and when he wasn't (even if it was realistic) it was unsatisfactory. It was disappointing.

    I feel the same way about a lot of books/movies, that they throw in a sad and horrible ending, just because, and it leaves me disappointed. I have read/seen good sad endings, but they were usually expected and needed. In the Bucket List, you cried your eyes out at the end, but it was still beautiful.

    And now I also realize I need to start reading more heavy stuff again, because I can only think of examples from movies... These last months, I've only been reading the various Goosebumps books by R.L Stine.
     
  22. Leo
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    Leo Senior Member

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    Yeah I agree, fundamentally reading the book needs to be in some way a happy experience for the reader, so generally the ending shouldn't be too repugnant.
     
  23. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Like a certain Stephen King movie adaptation. :D

    I always seem to flock to the bittersweets. The protagonist wins the ultimate conflict, but has lost so much over the course of it. Or they defeat the bad guy but they couldn't save the hostage too.(Or they save one and not the other) It's a mixture of emotions, and IMO it's truer to life. Life doesn't take the happily ever after or life no longer has meaning paths too often. It's often in-between. So I tend to like the movies that aren't afraid to not swing too far to either direction.
     
  24. Malo Beto
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    Malo Beto Member

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    It depends if I like the MC. Still even if I do like them I don't usually like anything much happier then a bittersweet ending and honestly sometimes I just want the villian to win.
     
  25. Leo
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    Leo Senior Member

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    I guess a good story could make you sympathise with the villain, and understand and sympathise with their motives, whilst at the same time you know that the right thing is for them to be defeated.
     

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