grappling with the unhappy ending

woman wearing crown holding frog figurine
Photo by Susanne Jutzeler on

It’s all we want to see,

A marriage or a birth, even just a kiss,

But if we look at my life

That hasn’t happened very much.

So should I lie

To my captive audience?

Gloss it over with with a varnish

That doesn’t seem to be so real

As we see in books and films and perfect dreams?

I’m writing a novel that I’ve been working on for a while and I’m almost finished but I’m struggling with the ending. The problem is that most people ‘seem’ to like a happy ending. We’re told that everyone wants one, but I don’t know if that’s true.

I may be a dark and depressive character (I really didn’t think that I was), but I love an ending that is sad. I love to be made to sob. Give me a death, a break up or a missed opportunity and I’m in love with your work.

Now, I know that you’re supposed to write what you know and like so my heart is telling me to kill off a character or make sure that the leading lady doesn’t get together with her man. But will that put people off? I went on Goodreads and looked at a thread where people just totally laid into writers that end their books on a negative note.

My thought is that life is far from being rosy and full of joy and happiness. There are moments of it, but life is more commonly complicated and messy. I certainly haven’t had many moments in life where I’ve thought ‘Oh good, this is my happy ending and now we are going to walk into the sunset.’

A lot of the arguments that people had was that we read to escape and so a happy ending is imperative. I’d be really interested to hear what others think? Are there any other sad depressives out there? Should I just break my main character’s heart? Because I want to.

Much Love

Rachel xx

5 thoughts on “grappling with the unhappy ending

  1. Margot Kinberg

    I definitely see your point about a sad ending. Some real-life outcomes are sad, and glossing over that isn’t, well, real. My belief is that endings ought to fall out naturally from a story. If the story is sad, then the ending will be, too. Not every ending has to be happy.

  2. Greg Dennison

    I like happy endings, but I also like sad endings, because I find them more relatable. I know I worry that my blog doesn’t have enough happy endings, particularly when it comes to love interests, but that’s only because I’m being real. So just write what you want.

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