I Don’t Do “Happy”



I’m not sure about other countries, but in the United States, at least in the movie industry, there seems to be a standard where every movie ends happily. Everyone gets what they want. It works out for them in one way or another. This isn’t so much the case with writing, of course. Especially my writing.

Really, I can’t think of a single happy ending I’ve written. I haven’t written a ton of works, but I’ve penned enough novels, poems, and short fiction to know that, for some reason or another, I don’t really do happy. Does this affect me as an author? Will people like or dislike my books more knowing that chances are it won’t end on a happy note? I’m not sure. But that’s just how I write.

I don’t really understand why that’s the case. I almost never have an ending planned out when I write. Usually I have the beginning, a character, or a particular scene, and I build the story around that. But generally my endings consist of suicide, or a lot of work resulting in a (as much as I dislike the word) bittersweet ending. Perhaps the main character survives, but he doesn’t really get whatever he or she desires. (But hey, at least he or she is alive!)

I’m curious if this is just a creative trend I’m going through right now. Will my endings gravitate toward something happier in the future?

Don’t get me wrong, the idea of this isn’t to convince you that all my endings are the same, and all of them will leave you sad and wanting to go cry in your closet for a few weeks. (Although that would be quite an accomplishment, no?). My endings vary in many degrees of sadness, if you want to call it that. I don’t want you to think my endings are predictable. At least I hope they’re not!

Anyway, I think you get my point.

What type of endings do you generally write? Do they vary? Or do they generally end in the same emotional way? What endings to you like to read?


7 thoughts on “I Don’t Do “Happy”

  1. Haha, good post. My endings are usually happy–sometimes open-ended–but I do kill people. I seem to have an inner serial killer hiding somewhere, probably near the Amygdala…Yeah…that’s it. I’ve killed someone in every single one of my books, and my poetry is usually about some kind of mental demon. I’m so cliche sometimes….

  2. I get what you’re saying…I tend to gravitate toward bittersweet endings (often the characters get what they want, but it comes at a cost) because a traditional happy ending always feels like a cop-out. I know that’s not necessarily true, but it is, nevertheless, what my muse thinks when she’s nagging in my ear.

    As a reader, I just like a realistic ending. If a happy ending makes the most sense, so be it. But if it doesn’t, forcing a square peg into a round hole just takes away from the whole story. Sometimes, you just gotta kill your characters πŸ˜›

  3. I definitely don’t think there is anything wrong with a happy ending. Sometimes, after a character has been through so much, it’s the only way the reader is going to feel fulfilled.

    On the flip side, though, I definitely agree that un-happy endings are important as well. That’s life, and writing reflects life. Sometimes you want a beautifully tragic ending because that’s what the story calls for. For you, it may be a phase or it may just be your style. Either way, there’s definitely nothing wrong with it. Some of my best stories don’t have happy endings.

  4. I’m a bittersweet ending kind of person, I find. All last year, I kept thinking one if the 12 novels would turn out sad in the end, but I always managed to find a middle ground (though they often are sad at the beginning). I like to write endings that ask a big question like “stay as you and and die, or become something you have fought against and live.”

    The most important thing about an ending is that it feels complete. I hate investing in a story and plot and then have it all make nice in the end – if a character needs to die, or to live, that should happen, and so on. I don’t like a difficult end just for the sake of it, nor do I want a rough and sad book to have sugar coating.

    As long as the end suits the story, I’m happy – reading or writing.

    • I like endings that make you think, not ones that give an artificial fuzzy feeling. I agree, it needs to feel complete – that doesn’t always mean happy. I tend to write dark, so a happy ending would be silly. πŸ™‚

  5. In my opinion, the ending is going to reflect the tone of the story, characters and themes that the author lays down. In some instances, say London Darkness: Infernal Inventions (just to pull a random title) is a dark and gritty Steampunk tale. Serious things were going on and serious consequences resulted. I was quite surprised that W(spoiler) died, did not expect in given his role. However, life itself is full of twists and turns where the unexpected crops up more often than not. Other tales may lend themselves to a more upbeat ending.

  6. So long as the ending feels satisfying I can take it either way. On the whole, though, once the characters’ have been through the ringer – and I do so like to put the squeeze on them – they deserve a little somethin’ somethin’… I wouldn’t be adverse to a less-than-celebratory ending, if it felt right… Either way, really… so long as you don’t have to go totally unrealistic to keep everyone alive, or vice versa.

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