1. Immy
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    Immy Member

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    Sad Ending or Happy Ending?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Immy, Feb 13, 2012.

    I don't know about you guys, but I find that books with sad endings have the most impact and are the most memorable to me. What are your views? And what are the pro's and con's of each ending?

    I'm only young and I know that I have a longgg way to go before I write my first book but I still want to write and maybe print and let my friends and family read them. My goal is to make them cry at some point through the novel (isn't that lovely of me? :) ); either with happiness or sadness because if a book can make someone cry then that's a well written book. I think I might even keep a log of how many people I make cry... :D
     
  2. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    The best ending for your story is the best, be it sad or happy. Sad endings can be more memorable, but also risk pissing off a touchy audience. Happy endings can be seen as playing it safe, or as rewarding fans for investing their time. Some stories require sad endings, others require happy endings. Whatever is best for your story is what you should do.
     
  3. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    I like bittersweet endings: something in between happy and sad. I don't like endings where everybody dies. Happy endings can make me happy -- but often they annoy me or at the very least aren't memorable.

    But the best ending is the one that makes us feel -- whatever that feeling is, and it might even make us think, and it will resonate with us emotionally, whatever the emotion is.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Whatever kind of ending the story demands has the most impact. There isn't one type of ending that is "stronger" or "more compelling" in general.
     
  5. PumpkinLord45
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    PumpkinLord45 New Member

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    The script I'm writing now for a graphic novel has a sad ending. I feel it's for the best scenario. It depends on the story and the emotions conveyed throughout your novel.
     
  6. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am not keen on sad endings, so much so, that I avoid such movies and books. I see enough sadness in my work day, when I come home, I want to cheer up and relax. Don't take me wrong, I am not into mindless literature at all, I just don't like sad endings.
    Personally, I most like clever endings, strong twists, ambiguity that leaves the possibility for a sequel.
     
  7. Jamez
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    Jamez Member

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    I like good, satisfying endings. I generally don't care if the ending is happy, sad or bittersweet, as long as it fits the story. And, yes, it should be meaningful.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's the quality of the writing that counts in re 'impact' and success, not how a novel ends... a good writer can make any ending work well...
     
  9. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    This is my thought exactly.

    I hate it when a perfectly good ending is thrown away by an author in favor of something sad and "heart wrenching" because they think it will make a bigger impact. You don't have to kill the main character (or their little sister) or blow up the world at the end of a story and it's much better in my opinion if you don't.
     
  10. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    In my very first novel, I killed the main character, not at the end, but in the penultimate chapter. Yet I considered the ending to be a happy one, and for that matter, I still do. Others in the story grew because of her death. The death of a good person helping those (s)he leaves behind is an old story line, in some quarters referred to as "the greatest story ever told".
     
  11. dred
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    dred Member

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    Actually, what has been quite an impact on me is an ending where there is no definitive resolution, or where the characters simply go there separate ways. It does not have to be a devastating or joyful ending for it to have an impact, you may decide to incorporate elements of both into the ending, for instance - I'm writing a story focused around two central characters, toward the end one characters kills himself, then as an ending the other person gets accepted into the University she applied to - this has a tragedy followed by a smaller but still positive ending.

    Whatever you decide to do, it doesn't have to be a monumental ending, simply bringing a great story to a close is impact enough to remember the book, but it depends on what genre your writing.
     
  12. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    How about a cynical ending?? :rolleyes: I got this new novel-idea last night but I can't see either a happy or a bittersweet ending to it. Maybe it'll be sad then, somehow I doubt it that many people would like a cynical ending ... :rolleyes:
     
  13. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some people will probably love it though. One thing to remember is that there is absolutely nothing that is universally pleasing.
     
  14. larryprg
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    larryprg Senior Member

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    What about the classical ironic ending? The surprising twist that's bewildering: not necessarily sad or happy.
     
  15. MeganHeld
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    MeganHeld Senior Member

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    Or there is also the open-ended ending. I tend to use this when I cannot decide between sad or happy ending. If I cannot decide then I leave it up to the reader to decide.
     
  16. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    yes, that might be a solution.
     
  17. cold grave
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    As long as the ending doesn't feel cheap, anything can work. By that, I mean, the ending is justified by the plot and characters. Any ending where the plot has been resolved is fine with me. I hate endings where the author is obviously going for a last-minute "happy" or "sad" moment, that hasn't been developed in the preceding pages.
     
  18. Question
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    It really depends on what the ending is. In general I think a sad ending tends to be more memorable but It also could make the reader not like the story because it makes them sad. A happy ending is always a safer bet, but it may not leave as big of an impact and if it has no meaning then it may leave the reader with the feeling that the story was a waste of time.
     
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  19. Immy
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    I think I agree with that. I don't want to make it end sad because I just want it to - which as most of you said, would be a pointless ending. In Dear John by Nicholas Sparks, John and Savannah fall in love when they're young and then they are separated when John goes off to war. When he returns to see her years later, she is married. Despite this, they're still in love. However, Savannah's husband is dying and he needs an expensive treatment to stay alive.
    Although John and Savannah still love each other, John decides to leave her to be happy with her husband and anonymously pays for her husbands treatment, so that he survives.

    So, that's one example of a sad ending...or actually, it's better described as bitter-sweet because while the reader is happy Savannah's husband gets better, they're sad that John ends up alone without his true love. It's a necessary ending, too, because it would have been wrong to let Savannah's husband die but in order to save him, it would take a sacrifice.

    So, yeah, I think I might write a 'necessarily bitter-sweet ending'. :)
     
  20. Connor Bible
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    Connor Bible Member

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    You rarely get a happily ever after in my books. It's either bittersweet, a downer, or Lynchian.
     
  21. RageAgainst
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    Yeah I think the best endings are bittersweet. But there was this one trilogy of books i read and even though it was bittersweet and you could say the protagonist 'won', what happened to my favourite character ruined the
    whole series for me, which has never happened before
     
  22. Lily J.
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    I prefer a happy ending but sometimes it suits the story best if it ends sadly :( ... Either way I absolutely don't like 'open' endings, because I always feel left with lots of questions and they remain unanswered.
     
  23. Immy
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    Immy Member

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    I HATE open endings with a vengeance. Just thought I'd let you know :)
     
  24. Kaynic
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    Personally, I like those endings that deal most realistically with the situation and present a closing that makes sense and fits the story, whether it be sad, happy, or bittersweet. Some authors can do a great job pulling off a happy ending with a story that was previously dark, harrowing, and intense, while others flub it and the ending comes off as forced and unrealistic. Yet I've noticed that some of the endings that have had the greatest impact on me were a mixture of intense sadness and loss, and happiness and hope: His Dark Materials, Lord of the Rings, Unwind, Storm Thief, and so on. But in books like johnny Got His Gun and Requiem for a Dream, the ending left me stunned for some time afterward, almost numbed by what had happened. It's all fairly dependent on the story itself.
     
  25. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I agree with all the people who've said that it depends on the story itself. In writing, there's NEVER anything that's cut and dry, black and white, applies to everything. (Even proper grammar usage, while you have to be an expert at it before breaking the rules, can be broken if it's for a specific and worthy purpose). Whether the ending is happy or sad depends on what the story calls for.

    I will say that I generally prefer endings that have some hope or positivity, though. Not roses and sunshine, but a hint that things will eventually start looking up. However, I also think a story needs hard-hitting moments to have full impact.
     

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