Captain Ironical himself.
Captain Ironical himself.

Now that all the stress and rush of Christmas is over, I can get back to my series on things in writing that I have trouble with or dislike and how I overcome those issues (you can find part 2 here). Since it’s January 1, 2013, and since the world didn’t end a week and a half ago and the year in general seems to have ended well, I thought I’d kick my posts of for this year with a little bit of irony (I love being “all ironical,” as Captain Malcolm Reynolds would say). So, let’s kick off the start of the year with a post on endings.

As you have probably figured out from the title of this post, I hate writing happy endings to stories. I really, really do. You can ask Tobias, Katherine Jones, or any of the people who are familiar with my work if you know any of them. You may have even figured it out for yourself by now, since most, if not all, of the stories I have posted for y’all to read have been rather on the morbid side (my boyfriend would tell me that that’s an understatement, and he’s probably right). Now, it’s not that I dislike reading stories that end with joyous circumstances; I do. Really….many of my favorite books end happily. I just do not like writing them. I find them dull and boring and difficult to write. Not many people can write them well, either – they usually come off sounding cliched, which I think would also be one reason why I avoid them. The main problem for me most likely is that I’m interested in the Dark Side, so to speak. I like looking at how things would be with darker endings instead of the expected lighter ones (that, and I like torturing my characters, but that’s a post for another week). I also, as I’ve mentioned before, write from a mainly psychological point of view, and troubled villains are just so much more interesting than noble princes who save the day and rescue the girl (plus, as Tobias wrote about so well, heroes are hard, and I just don’t care about them enough to really put much time into working on writing them) . I don’t care about the latter, I’d much rather write about the former, and things rarely turn out well for them. Of course, in my writing, sometimes the villain does win, and that’s where the unhappy ending happens. It all depends on how I’m writing the story. I think I’ve written maybe 5 stories in which no one dies and the final outcome of the story is a happy one (of those, one is an allegorical work, so I don’t know if that even counts). I prefer writing tragedies. They’re so much more interesting.

He's far more interesting than Dudley DoRight.
For example, I’d rather write about Snidely Whiplash. He’s far more interesting than Dudley DoRight.

So, what do I do to resolve the issue? I don’t, really. From my point of view, there’s nothing wrong with writing stories that don’t have happy endings. Of course, as a result, I do have that pesky problem of not being able to write heroes very well in certain stories (I actually satirize myself in one of my longer stories called “The Villain of the Piece” – I can’t share it with y’all yet because it’s part of my thesis. Maybe this summer you’ll get to see it.), but I’m ok with that since I don’t write many heroes. I do try to get better with them sometimes – I write out character sketches and get some of my writer friends to critique them and help me polish them up until said heroes are somewhat realistic. And, on occasion, I write a short story that does end well, just to shake things up and throw my readers off guard. It’s a great deal of fun, that. But anyway, I think happy endings are boring, and I try to avoid writing them whenever possible. What are your thoughts about them? Happy New Year, everyone. I look forward to another year of blogging and reading comments from y’all!

2 thoughts on “Confessions of a Crazy Writer, Part 3: Happy Endings are Boring

  1. I find it interesting that the true hero’s of life are largely ignored because they are so common. They are the ones who stay married 50+ years, raise good children, invest in their communities, their churches, and pass on leaving a ripple in society and a huge hole in some lives. In short, most of our parents, I hope.

    It is only those who are, in some rather spectacular way, out of the norm, that get the attention. They are the characters we like because they are the focus of the story. The cordwainer, the master carpenter or stone mason, as characters, are uninteresting unless they step out of their craft in some dramatic way, But it is he who do not so step out of the ‘ordinary’ who becomes the true hero.

    Try writing that for an ending!

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