1. Galadriel says:

    Hm…I don’t know what I expect from an ending, except that even if it’s sad, I want a sense that life will go on afterwards. This is easier to achieve with series, I suspect, but I still don’t want the sense that the story is the be-all-and-end-all. As for twists, I like them sometimes, but I also like the  “I knew it!” moments.

    offtopic: I won’t be on this site from August 4-25th. I’ll be working as summer staff at camp and this site is blocked by their filters:( 

    • “I don’t know what I expect from an ending, except that even if it’s sad, I want a sense that life will go on afterwards.”

      I think you touched on something great here. And, perhaps, that’s where I failed in my screenplay that I mentioned. Providing that sense that “Life is dark, now, but it’s going to be okay.” That’s something I’m trying to improve on, because the issue is, as the writer, I KNOW that my characters will live on. So I guess that flips my “happy trigger” and I leave the ending ambiguously bleak forgetting the fact that the audience isn’t in my head and they don’t know what I do about the characters’ future.  :p

  2. Kessie says:

    I’m trying to think of any books I liked that had sad endings. I can’t think of any. Sure, I can appreciate the story itself, like Peter Pan or The Princess and Curdie. But I also know where to stop reading.
    Every book that has a sad ending where the hero dies or otherwise fails, I never read again. Because that’s real life. In real life, the hero seldom wins and evil appears to triumph. Sure, we know Jesus will come back someday and set everything right. But right now, with the hopelessness of our culture compounded by economic depression, I’d rather read a book with a happy ending. Because happy endings remind me that sad endings aren’t the norm.
    I think you’re right about the window dressing, though. Give me new flashy window dressing! And make sure the hero wins. Do the archtype stuff in the background, but new fun stuff in the foreground. It’s like how every painting is built on a foundation of light and shadow. If you remove one of those, then you’ve departed from realism (my painting style of choice).
    The only book I can think of that has a “sad” ending is Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones, where the star Sirius is tried for murder and his penalty is to live life as a dog on Earth until he can clear his name. The ending is what we wanted and expected all along–we knew he’d solve the mystery and be reinstated–but it comes with an unexpected price tag. So it’s bittersweet.

  3. Kessie says:

    The flipside to that is in happy times, people crave tragedy. My sister went through this period where she was hooked on all those depressing Russian authors because she couldn’t get enough tragedy. Apparently she didn’t have enough in her personal life.
    Me, I have enough angst in my own life, so I want happy endings. It depends on where a person is in their life.

  4. Greg, thanks for your great thoughts.

    From what comes this desire to re-enact familiar stories and elements? It comes from the first and truest Story, Scripture itself. People can redress and add Clever Twists and explore different emphases, but ultimately the basic structure must remain the same. Even corrupt humans crave that similarity. Otherwise we reject it by instinct.

    Some weeks ago I also saw Rift Jump frequently referenced in Splashdown social-network circles. I must admit, the comic-style cover leaps (ha!) out to me and makes me wonder what the story is about. Already we have many Splashdown Books titles in the Speculative Faith Library, and it seems Rift Jump is the newest and hasn’t yet been added. If you like, here’s the submission form for new books. And any reviews, either original or previously published, can be submitted here for front-page promotion.

    • Thanks for the link to the submission form. I had meant to do that for Rift Jump, but, with it being so new, I didn’t have a review quote yet. But I just got one the other day, so I’ll be sure to submit it! 🙂

    • Stephen said: “From what comes this desire to re-enact familiar stories and elements? It comes from the first and truest Story, Scripture itself.”

      On that note…

      I always plot my stories with an excellent outlining technique I learned from a video seminar series (if you’re curious, Google “Dan Wells on Story Structure”; it’s on YouTube).  The plot structure goes like this:

      – Hook: where everything begins
      – Plot Turn 1: the protagonist is driven to action by an event
      – Pinch 1: pressure is applied; there is danger
      – Midpoint: a turning point is reached; usually the protagonist moves from passive reaction to direct action against the antagonist
      – Pinch 2: more danger; the protagonist seems to be in the “jaws of defeat”
      – Plot Turn 2: the last piece falls into place
      – Resolution/Climax: the point the story has been building to all along

      One day while taking notes during a sermon, I realized that the story of redemption actually follows the same basic plot!

      – Hook:  God creates man.
      – Plot Turn 1: Man falls into sin.
      – Pinch 1: The world is full of sin and sorrow for generations.
      – Midpoint: Christ comes to earth as a man.
      – Pinch 2: Christ is crucified; it looks like Satan has the upper hand.
      – Plot Turn 2: Christ is raised from the dead!
      – Resolution: Christ is given dominion over all things as Savior and Lord, and ends the rule of Satan forever.

      I outlined it on the side of my notes and sat there thinking, “No WONDER this is the best outline for a plot!”  😀

      I’m a happy endings person, myself…I don’t mind things taking a sad or unexpected turn at the end if it makes a story stronger, but as a general rule I firmly believe stories should end happily. 🙂

    • I outlined it on the side of my notes and sat there thinking, “No WONDER this is the best outline for a plot!”  😀

      Amen! And of course, God’s Story came first. We’ve all just been “imitating” it, or in some cases trying to be more clever or more spiritual than reality, all along.

      This is what frustrates me about some Christians’ approaches to story. They act as if they need to come from some place outside the Bible, “salvage” Scripture truths and elements to “put into” a new story, and subconsciously divide the two. This is far from truth. All of Scripture is the basis of all stories underneath, not in bits from alongside.

  5. Bainespal says:

    Do we really want Frodo to make it to the edge of the volcano and NOT throw in the One Ring, but keep it and dominate the world? It would certainly be an ending that makes logical sense. It would also defy storytelling convention.

    The Lord of the Rings is great for this discussion, because I firmly believe that it doesn’t have a simple, stereotypical, good-always-wins ending. And yet, as said, it does indeed fit the epic pattern; Frodo is indeed a virtuous hero who overcomes.
    (Spoiler alert if you don’t know how LOTR ends, as unlikely as that may be.) The story would have been deeply flawed, much less powerful and compelling, if the good guys lost or if Frodo gave in to temptation. However, I think the story would also be less powerful if the ending was completely and unambiguously happy. There is joy at the end, but joy veiled through tears at the final separation of the Fellowship at the Grey Havens. I just read and commented on the most recent Speculative Reading Group column about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Mr. Burnett quoted Tolkien’s view of eucatastrophe — “…Resurrection was the greatest ‘eucatastrophe’ possible in the greatest Fairy Story — and produces that essential emotion: Christian joy which produces tears because it is so qualitatively so like sorrow, because it comes from those places where Joy and Sorrow are at one…” Critics who say that LOTR is all black-and-white with no moral complexity are naive. As Gandalf says in that last chapter, “I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are evil.”

  6. Estelwen says:

    I don’t require happy endings to the stories I read or watch.  I actually love Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End, because of it’s ending.  Spoiler
    I never saw Will’s ‘death’ coming and was completely blindsided by it, but it fit because they had been hinting at it since the last movie.  All the pieces slid into place, even as I cried for what Will and Elizabeth lost.  I am okay with most endings, provided they’re led up to properly.  Sometimes I feel like an author decides that the ending is to boring and suddenly flips the entire story upside down.  Without proper lead in this feels abrupt and unnatural and often sacrifices the flow and feel of the story, leaving me feeling disjointed and out of place.  

    I have also noticed my tastes changing though as I get older and see more of the world.  I begin to crave a happy ending.  I was very upset by the end of the Hunger Games trilogy.  That didn’t feel wrapped up.  It felt depressing and unresolved.  I wanted Katniss to triumph.  After all that had been done to her I wanted her to win, not be broken by her enemies.  

    I guess what I really need at the end is hope.  I need to be left with a promise that even if everything isn’t right now, it can be made right in the future.

    • It’s funny you mention At World’s End. I LOVED that movie and thought it was the perfect end to the trilogy. I was bummed at the ending…until I stayed after the credits. Then it provides the hopeful epilogue, which made a sad ending kind of uplifting, really.

      That movie resonates with me because, in my books, I like hard-won victories. There’s always tragedy mixed with the triumphs. I think it makes the triumphs that more meaningful.  

    • In At World’s End, no one was the good guy. Whether the ending is/was sad or happy, that was the main issue. Moreover, it wasn’t even a Biblically informed “no one is truly good” kind of ending. …

  7. Rift Jump is now featured at the Speculative Faith Library. Thanks for the submission!

    All other titles in the ever-growing cyber-shelves can also be viewed by order of addition or publication. If we don’t have your favorite (complete, published, Christian, and speculative) novel there, use Submit a Novel to help get the word out.

  8. I’d say the story that I loved the most that defied convention was Gone with the Wind. I agonized over that ending, then read the book two more times over the years, and eventually found hope, though I have no idea if that’s what the author expected. It certainly isn’t the way she left things at the end. It wasn’t actually an ambiguous ending either. It was more along the lines of letting the reader know that life continued on, but the events we’d been tracking were over, and that seemed unacceptable. In fact, years later the book Scarlet was written–by whom, I don’t recall–to finish the story, so obviously I wasn’t the only one who felt the ending was quite the end.


  9. […] we are all supposed to honor Gone With the Wind as a classic, and I do recognize that — but as Becky recently noted, it’s unorthodox. As a viewer (I have not read the book), I was only able to support the […]

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