Thursday, February 11, 2016

Honest Thoughts: Happy Endings


We talked a little bit about this in last weeks post about fictional romance, but I felt it deserved its very own, honest post.

Let's get this out in the open just to be safe:

I LOVE HAPPY ENDINGS.

Whew. There, I've said it. I confess. No, I'm not strong enough to endure a sad ending. No, I don't want to look for the "slightly hopeful tidbit" that "really creative" author put there in that last sentence. No, I don't want to feel like I've been run over by a truck and, despite what everyone says, will recover eventually. I don't like sad endings. I. Just. Don't.

Okay, before I rant any more, I will say that I do however, understand sad things happening in a book. I guess, if we're being specific here, a case could be made that in many instances of "sad endings" there were "happy things" to redeem the book, but to me it's usually not enough. I guess we could debate on a case by case basis if needed.

The Why

My desire for all things to work out may stem from my motivation to read. Why I read what I read is a direct result of what I want to feel after I read. (tweet this) I want to be taken on a journey. To feel the adventure. To agonize over the path that leads to the end. BUT, I want to be left satisfied. I guess, for most books that I've read or stories that I've heard told (or seen in movies) satisfaction is gained by happiness.

Hum, that could be analyzed if we dove more deeply into what happiness really is and all that, but let me mention the second reason why I read fiction (I'm add "fiction" to this so it's more specific). I also read to escape. Not as a way to ignore my own personal life, but as a way to jump off the ledge of reality and plummet headfirst into a world that's not my own.

It doesn't have to be a fantasy for me to get lost. I will find myself in another world that's very similar to our own, but in this world there's one particular thing that makes it magic: It's not our world. It's a world where love can over come obstacles. Where killers can be found and stopped. Where good can overcome evil. Where we get to see into the minds of characters.

In this world, I don't think it's too much to ask for a happy ending.

The How 

I'm not going to say that everyone's happy endings need to look the same. In fact, that wouldn't necessarily make it a "happy ending" just an ending. I think the beauty of real happy endings come from the authors mind. It begins with their characters and the issues they must face, overcome, and conquer. Then it transfers onto the page by the adventures and misadventures their characters journey through. It lands when the resolution shows just how it all works out.

The tricky thing about this, in my opinion, is for authors to come up with a truly great ending that packs a punch (no matter your genre) while surprising the reader. We don't want the typical, easy answer. We want something vibrant, creative, and unexpected (if I can speak for readers as a whole).

Let's face it. Anyone can say "they lived happily ever after" but if you don't show us how they got there, it's not worth it. (tweet this) We need to see them working for that happy ending. It needs to be like a juicy stake we get to after a month of eating salad (this metaphor breaks down if you're a vegetarian...). A truly happy ending comes after a lot of pain--just like most good things in this life, right? (tweet this)

So please, authors, remember the power of a happy ending. Your readers will grow based on what your characters discover and that will, in turn, shape more than just your story.

Your turn for honest thoughts: Do you like a happy ending? Why? Is it a requirement? What are some of your favorite books with happy endings?