Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Endings: But They’re Not Always Real and Wild Cherry

Heroic conflict resolved in the heroic character’s favor. Do not slay the heroic character. Even if the heroine’s victory is bittersweet, it must be victory, usually good over evil. Even if she does not win the heart of her romantic interest, she will have proven herself deserving of it. James V. Smith, Jr., You Can Write a Novel

But why? I ask. Why can’t we end our novels where the protagonist dies or ends up homeless? Why does there always have to be a happy ending? Real life can be really sad and depressing. That’s real. Happy, happy isn’t always real.

I mean, life doesn’t always have a happy ending. People become addicted to drugs.



Sometimes they stay addicted and die from the crap.




Some people start out happy together.


Sometimes Princesses aren’t happy.


Sometimes they die tragically.


Babies and children die.


Parents murder their children.



Sometimes children murder their parents.


Innocent people go to jail. Sometimes they get executed. 



People may start out happy and rich, but may end up dying sad and poor.



So, I ask again. Why? Why does there always have to be a happy ending when in real life sad endings happen. Isn’t fiction supposed to be as real as possible?

The difference between reality in fiction and real life---it has to be real. (Can’t remember the name of the writer for this quote).


Hope I didn’t depress anybody but I was in a funky mood. Thinking does that to me sometimes. So, while you ponder this question I found something funky for you to listen to:

Before I go and ask you the final question to this blog, wanted you all to know that I had no clue Wild Cherry was actually a white band. Discovered it when I searched for the video. Talk about living a sheltered life. Attended Lutheran and Baptist schools. Also, had an overbearing mother. That’ll do it to anyone.

Okay. Back to that pesky question. What do you think? Do you think fictional novels should always end happy, and the protagonist should live or, end up with absolutely nothing?

That’s all for now folks!!!

Happy blogging,reading, and writing!!!


P.S. Save a library!


  1. Shelly,
    Love this blog post in picture's. To answer your question... fiction is suppose to take you away from reality, but sometimes fiction can't end happily ever after.

  2. @Debra:
    I know that but reality is sometimes things don't ever go the way everyone wants them, too.

  3. This post is seriously so touching. Your beautiful writing made me tear up. You have a place in this writing world. Readers will gobble up your honest and touching sentiments.

    Russo @

  4. Russo: Thank you for your kind comments. And, I do follow your blogs. They touch me as well.

  5. I read for pleasure. Life is tough enough.
    If the ending isn't happy I won't buy that author's books any more period. He can wallow with the other vampire sucking zombies in the discounted book section! On the other hand, there is a market for vampire-sucking zombies--it just isn't me.

  6. I think happy endings have tarnished many otherwise fantastic stories. In YA, Harry Potter comes to mind.

    *SPOILER* :-)

    I'll contend to my dying breath that for full literary/story impact, Harry should have died. Still a great story, I just think a profound opportunity was missed.

  7. I think it depends on the story itself and the protagonist. Just like in real life, each person's story is different and how they handle the choices that life (or the author) throws at them. For a novel, you need to pick the most believable outcome, even if it's not happily riding off into the sunset. I agree with E.J., the quest for a happy ending can sometimes not be what the story needs.

  8. @ Eve: Actually, I don't write Vampire-zombie novels. I toy with them in short stories or segments.

    Anyway, wanted to know how everyone felt about endings. Thank you for letting me know that you want a happy ending.

    E.J.: I couldn't agree with you more.

    Janet: Thank you. Sometimes I feel all the happy endings in novels delude people or at the same time discourage them from keep on trying. Just thinking. Hopefully, I didn't end up in a hole.

  9. I kind of have to agree with Eve...I read for pleasure and I expect the ending to be a good one. If someone dies or something bad happens, then I'm not going to like it. As she said, "Life is tough enough." I just want to escape into the fantasy world of fiction...but, that's just me...

  10. @ Beth: It's a good thing I ended Secondhand Shoes happily.

  11. I do not think a book needs to have a happy ending. I enjoy reading those books that are more realistic, but I suppose I am not the norm. Most people love to live in the fantasy world where there is always a happy ending.

  12. @J.L: No, you're not the norm. I'm one of those that need a good cry sometimes,too. Sometimes I need a good laugh. Sometimes I want happy.

  13. I'm sure you're book will be good whether the ending is happy or not. You're a very creative thinker with great ideas!

  14. Well said, Shelly.

    I think it depends on the genre, of course.


Let me know what you think.