Thursday, June 9, 2011

Concerning Endings

Hello all. I’ve been thinking about an entirely new idea for a story, which I might use for NaNoWriMo this year. Without giving too much away, it’s historical fiction and I will need to do a lot of research for it, so I’m still not sure whether it will actually happen or not. I don’t tend to get on well with historical fiction. Anyway, that’s not what I’m actually posting about.

The thing about this new story idea, like many of my unfinished stories, is that the ending could be either very tragic or quite positive. I always find this the hardest thing to decide when composing a plot. This new idea could be especially poignant if the main character were to die at the end, and I’m always worried about avoiding saccharine endings which aren’t really satisfying, but at the same time I have a habit of doing awful things to my characters which I should really try and break. This character I’m planning will have a lot of awful stuff to deal with, whatever happens to him at the very end, so maybe I ought to let him off being killed as well.

If this new story were to end positively it needn’t be a fairytale ending. I can see it ending realistically with all the action and turmoil over and the character contemplating a long, difficult but ultimately doable journey back to a normal life. It wouldn’t be a cliff hanger, because it would be very clear that a normal life is exactly what he’ll eventually achieve. But I still doubt it would be satisfying.

So I want to ask: in general, which do you tend to prefer, in your own work and in books you read? Happy endings or sad ones? Do you find ambiguous endings unsatisfying or do you like the realism of them? And does anyone have any tips for writing historical fiction?

1 comment:

  1. Happy endings. I feel like the book didn't end right if it's sad.

    I think ambiguous endings aren't good. After all, I write and read to escape (at least for a little while) the real world.

    I wish I could help you with the historical fiction. I have a couple of ideas. Maybe we could both do it for NaNoWriMo and share tips here.