1. Wraith68
    Offline

    Wraith68 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2011
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    aint got a clue

    If evil prevail's.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Wraith68, Jun 28, 2013.

    Hello all, i know that the battle between good and evil has been done many time's but i was just wondering,
    can a story that end's with evil winning, not the usual happy ending make it a non reader/seller?
     
  2. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,535
    Gosh please change your avatar - it's frightening!

    Now to your question - if you did that, you'd have to make the evil guy sympathetic. The thing is, if you have your readers egging a character on throughout the book, for example that they want the good guy to win the fight because most of us usually want that, and then you end with the bad guy winning, then you will leave your readers feeling like they've been taken for a ride lol. As far as the reader's concerned, there was no resolution and the ending is therefore very disappointing. There needs to be some resolution - even in horror, where very often the monster still lives after the humans thought they've won - first the humans had to have their climactic victory. Otherwise, you've just followed a bunch of people on a fight just to watch all of them die and be defeated.

    However, if you make your evil character sympathetic, then it's different - the resolution becomes the evil character's goal, the very same goal the reader is egging for. But whether you can write a truly evil character sympathetically is the real question - it's difficult and takes a heck of a lot of skill, but if you manage, he'd be one very interesting character.

    Oh, and even then, very often we still want to see the evil character punished ;)

    Maybe read Perfume by Patrick Suskind - it follows the life of a murderer from birth. The ending was truly very, very interesting because throughout the book, I thought to myself, "But if the MC gets arrested and punished, that won't make a good ending. But if the MC goes unpunished, that won't make a good ending either. So how?" And in my opinion, Suskind struck the perfect balance - I couldn't believe it when I got there, how perfect it was. It was just the right ending. I won't tell you because it's done so well - go read it :)
     
  3. Thomas Kitchen
    Offline

    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2012
    Messages:
    1,258
    Likes Received:
    422
    Location:
    I'm Welsh - and proud!
    It can be done, but realise too that a good few readers won't like that. You can make it okay for them by giving them some glimmer of hope - in fact, you'd have even fewer happy readers if you did not do this. So of course you can do anything, but if you want to get it published, understand that readers will be affected. Having said that, there are books that do what you want to do:

    Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie.
    A good few Stephen King books.
    1984 by George Orwell.

    These are just a few. Also, bear another thing in mind: if you make the good guys awesome and the evil guys still win, almost every mainstream reader will rip your book to shreds and never buy anything of yours again. It's harsh, I know, but that's the way it works. However, if you make the good guys so sickly sweet and annoying, then tell the story from the bad guy's POV, then you're more likely to have happy readers. For example, take the Dexter books and TV series. It's told from a serial killer's POV, yet you vouch for him, as if he's completely normal. It's weird, but the reader tends to side with whoever's side of the story they hear first. If your book really calls for evil winning then fine (it's your book, after all), but just be careful if you want it picked up by agents and publishers, especially if you are a first-time author.

    Hope that helps. :)
     
  4. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,535
    Across the Nightingale Floor had the good guys win, but not before 2 out of 4 key characters, AWESOME characters whom you've been loving and supporting throughout the entire frigging book, get horribly horribly murdered. And all without a shred of dignity. It was realistic, and I can tell you now I'm not even gonna read the second book in the trilogy, it infuriated me that much.

    Re the OP - another book where the evil guys win - read I Am Legend, it's superb, much better than the film (even though I enjoyed the film and watched it before the book).
     
  5. huntsman40
    Offline

    huntsman40 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2013
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    4
    It shouldn't matter if good wins at the end, and I'm sure you've read many books, or watched many films where the "good guys" don't win at the end. If the ending is well-written and has an impact on the reader it should not affect how well your book does at all.
     
  6. Garball
    Offline

    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2013
    Messages:
    2,846
    Likes Received:
    1,332
    Location:
    S'port, LA
    I remember going to see Arlington Road at the theatre with one of my brothers. When the end credits started rolling, everybody stood up and walked out of theatre in silence. We were all shocked; the bad guy won; it was about time. Maybe not the greatest movie ever, but the timing was perfect. The night before, we were actually saying it was due time the bad guy won. Happy endings (not the Thai kind) can get pretty tiring.
     
  7. Shandeh
    Offline

    Shandeh Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2013
    Messages:
    271
    Likes Received:
    29
    Location:
    Australia
    One of my favourite endings, pretty much ever, was the ending of The Stand by Stephen King.

    The good guys think they win, but then you find out that the bad guy is not, in fact, dead, and is going to work his evil elsewhere in the world.

    The book itself, I found to be pretty heavy going, and not especially exciting for quite some time, but the ending was fabulous.
     
  8. archerfenris
    Offline

    archerfenris Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2013
    Messages:
    217
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Savannah, GA
    If you're going with good v. evil, your readers will be incredibly upset if evil wins. You can make it so evil escapes, not to bother the main characters again any time soon...but win? Good always triumphs over evil, everyone learns that in sunday school.

    However, if you're writting a book NOT about evil. Say...Game of Thrones, where the enemy is a political one (even though some of the characters on the opposing side do evil things), then you can have the "bad guys" win, I suppose. The ending of The Hunger Games is a good example. The "good guys" win...but do they? The ending leaves the main characters in such a low state and the entire country destroyed, it's hardly a happy ending...but it is a realistic ending when your theme is war.

    If your going to have an ending like this, the possibility for originality is great, but also great is the possibility of screwing it up. Good luck!
     
  9. CyberFD
    Offline

    CyberFD Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2013
    Messages:
    70
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Mystical Land of Ohio
    There's a Cracked article on this, called 5 Things Everyone Hates (Science Says You Secretly Enjoy). If you skip to number one, it's literally "When The Bad Guy Wins." I personally would be surprised that you'd end a story like that, but it would be a good surprise. At least in my opinion.
     
  10. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Rosemary's Baby. The Omen.

    Yes, evil can prevail in the end.
     
  11. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,915
    Likes Received:
    10,108
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    Yes, evil can prevail.

    But the possessive should not prevail over the plural. o_O
     
    1 person likes this.
  12. Lea`Brooks
    Offline

    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 11, 2013
    Messages:
    2,636
    Likes Received:
    1,732
    Location:
    Virginia, United States
    I LOVE the-bad-guy-wins endings. I want a lot of my books to be like that. I want to go the entire book from the MC's perspective, pushing her through the story like any other novel, then have the bad guy win at the end. :) I've actually planned out a couple novels to go that way, and I'm really excited about it. There's also a few idea I'm working on where the entire novel is sort of dark. Then there's another novel that plays on the good/evil standards and what defines them.

    Yeah. I think it's awesome.
     
  13. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Yup. He went there. :D
     
    1 person likes this.
  14. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,323
    Location:
    California, US
    Of course.

    And you can look at Eve Forward's book Villain's By Necessity, to see an interesting take - the book opens years after good has vanquished evil, only things aren't as great as everyone thought they were going to be.
     
  15. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    I agree with the theory that that appendix, 'Principles of Newspeak', is the end of that novel and story, hinting a more liberal post-Big Brother world.
     
  16. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    If I recall, "The Handmaid's Tale" ends
    in a similar fashion. It turns out to be a narrative of a past time.
     
  17. TerraIncognita
    Offline

    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,339
    Likes Received:
    40
    Location:
    Texas
    This is an interesting question. I'd say you'd definitely have to make the villain an underdog. This is a tried and true technique used time and time again. It is especially useful when both sides are pretty evil from an outside perspective. People just have a natural tendency to take the side of someone who is an underdog. But this also depends on what type of character you're dealing with. Is it a more morally ambivalent character or one who is an evil sadist. As in some of the examples mentioned above there are many successful books and franchises where evil wins. In the case of a character who is just rotten to the core type evil I don't see any point in making them sympathetic.

    So write the story you envision and feel strongly about telling.
     
  18. The Peanut Monster
    Offline

    The Peanut Monster Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2013
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Interesting; I found the opposite. I enjoyed the book a lot, but was quite disappointed with the ending - thought it was a little "cheap".
     
  19. Wraith68
    Offline

    Wraith68 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2011
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    aint got a clue
    Desired effect - ;)

    Thank you everyone for your opinion's and answer's. You have given me lot's to think about and some fantastic information.

    I originally asked the question as I felt that no matter how good a story was, when it comes to Good V's Evil, you kind of know deep down In your heart that Good will triumph. That's why I can't help but feel it would be good for the Evil entity In the story to be the victor for a change, though like many of these post's have said, it will have to be done just right or it won't work.
    One more thought I have just had and then I will leave you wonderful people In peace I promise (for a while at least) What do you think of book's that have alternative ending's? That way you can see how thing's could go either way.
     
  20. Pythonforger
    Offline

    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2010
    Messages:
    405
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Amongst the Mortals
    There is no such thing as Good or Evil, only sides in a conflict.

    Anyway, having the ANTAGONIST prevail can be cheesy if badly done and superb if well done.
     
  21. Rimuel
    Offline

    Rimuel Member

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2009
    Messages:
    83
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    I wonder....perhaps in the azure blue sky.
    How would the alternate ending get integrated? Do you write another novel with a different ending or ...do you allow the reader to choose between two endings?
     
  22. Wraith68
    Offline

    Wraith68 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2011
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    aint got a clue
    Allow the reader to choose between 2 ending's.
     
  23. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,915
    Likes Received:
    10,108
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    They're great for younger readers. I loved the Chose Your Own Adventure series when I was kid. :)

    Dude, seriously, deal with these plurals that you keep turning into possessives.
     
  24. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    It has a name. The greengrocer's apostrophe.

    [​IMG]

    It is true evil. ;)
     
    1 person likes this.
  25. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,323
    Location:
    California, US
    There can certainly be good and evil in a novel. That's up to the author.
     

Share This Page