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Happy Endings?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Hypervorean, Oct 24, 2012.

  1. Nbafan

    Nbafan Dreamer

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    I'm going to have to disagree on your statement that there are no happy endings in life. There are plenty of happy endings. On the other hand, I also believe that there are plenty of sad, unhappy people in the world and, as a result, unhappy endings.

    The thing with fantasy is that, often times, a happy ending clashes with realism. Today, many writers seem to make sure the hero gets through without harm. Oftentimes, the hero ends up having no real tests which is completely unrealistic. As I see it, there is no problem with a happy ending, it just should be done somewhat realistically by making the hero or whoever go through both good and bad times to get there.
     
  2. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    I think there's a difference between making the process too easy for the hero, and making the ending too easy. If you avoid the first (it's just plain weak), you've earned the right to make the second anywhere on a continuum:

    The classic bittersweet ending is, The Day Is Saved partly by the sacrifice of certain characters-- maybe the designated Expendable Best Friend, maybe minor folks, maybe the MC himself to leave the rest to pick up the pieces.

    I think there's a larger principle here. Stories have their high and low points, but the "happily ever after" cliche is that at the wrapup everyone good survives and gets their rewards, and everyone bad gets their comeuppance to leave the world in peace. But if you do justice to a story, there are probably going to be some losses that can't be patched over (at least in a hurry; "and I'll spend the rest of my life rebuilding the city/ your trust" is a good ending).

    Most plausible stories have those costs in them somewhere. The question then is how central the story makes those costs seem; the more seriously we take the sacrifice theme in Harry Potter, the more soft-pedalling it can seem that all three of the key characters survived. Or more likely, we didn't really expected Ms. Rawling to hit that hard, but we can argue about how many other kids could die, how much of Hogwarts could vaporized, and so on, and especially how much the finale could emphasize those costs.

    Honestly, once a story finds what bittersweet things are there, it seems to come down to whether the tale's impression will be the half-empty or half-full glass. And stories are all about defining what "impression" they'll leave.
     
  3. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

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    If you know the ending is happy, why read the book.
    I hate totally negitive endings, or total failure, "they all died. The end."

    Total success or total failure are rare, usually its a win with losses, or a lose with some wins.
    Even martyrdom isn't a total loss. The main character dies for what they believe in, and it inspires the masses to act.

    The ending must fit the story, but riding off into the sunset with the damsel formerly in distress is not great for every ending, nor the traditional fairy tale ending..."they lived happily ever after."
     
  4. Clarence Matthews

    Clarence Matthews Dreamer

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    Of course as if on cue the ironic monster reared its ugly head, and after publicly announcing my 'meh' opinion of happy endings my very next short story ends with..... a happy ending. I should clarify that I don't horribly enjoy predictable stories where it is foreshadowed heavily that there will be a perfect joyous happy ending. I like a level of suspense in what the story is going to reveal next. Am I talented enough to do that in my writing, not so much but I enjoy reading others who are.
     
  5. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    Like I said, I torture most f my characters throughout the novel.. I like to end with a little happiness. But then, my novels aren't typified by battles and wars, where death is more common. Mine are small casts (three to five people), personal quests, and a whole lot of character interaction. So while I have killed characters a few times in the main plot, I never chose to do a tragic ending. I mean, how much death can you have, with only three characters?

    I'd love to explore endings more, as they're (embarrassingly) something I haven't given much conscious thought to. The endings I've written felt natural and I rolled with them. If any of you are really good at writing endings, or just really picky about endings being fitting, send me a PM, I'd like to pick your brain a little about this. THANKS!
     
  6. Helen

    Helen Inkling

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    I don't think you have a problem with happy endings.

    I just think you don't know how to write them. You probably visualize them as corny and cliche.

    But I guarantee you that once you write a great ending, you'll fall in love with them again.
     
  7. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

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    Nicely expanded on.

    I like costs and sacrifices. Like Caged Maiden, I sometimes put the characters through hell.
     
  8. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    Yay! for torturing your characters throughout the story. I think it's the one theme to my various-toned stories... My characters will suffer! Haha sometimes I really tear them down, and sometimes I allow the world to do it, but their happy ending is the little something I give them in the end, because they certainly suffered for the journey.
     
  9. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

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    I really do think it brings out the best qualities (and worst at times) in a character, and that is interesting to me! It helps them to grow and to realise their potential.
     
  10. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

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    lovers triangle with (Japanese) seppuku Romeo and Juliet ending? well, you asked. Messy and tragic.
     
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