Writing–Happy Endings

I don’t write happy endings.

Okay, I do, but I don’t.

It’s something I’ve noticed as I accumulate short stories and novel first drafts and it’s not just because I write a lot of horror. That’s not to say that I don’t write satisfactory endings in the sense that the plot is tied up and the questions are all answered because I do that. Sometimes I even do it in an a happy way. You have to offer up a satisfying conclusion if you want to write a story worth reading.

The happy endings I’m talking about are the stories that end with the girl getting the guy or the guy getting the girl. I’ve written a few stories and some novels in which that is a possibility. The set-up is there. But I don’t do anything with it. I might play a little with flirting or a smidge of sexual tension, but in the end, the characters ride off into the sunset…alone.

It seems to be an expectation for most stories involving a man and a woman that they’ll end up together. It’s an expectation I don’t live up to and I don’t live up to it on purpose.

I don’t think it’s always necessary. Just because two characters share the same story doesn’t mean they have to hook up by the end of it. Maybe they’d really like to. Maybe they do hook up at some point after the story ends. But for the time period that’s written about concerning these characters, it doesn’t happen. It happens if it’s necessary for the story and so many stories I write don’t find it necessary. And that’s okay! It’s better to serve the story rather than shoehorn something in to satisfy a reader expectation that clashes with everything else about the story.

I think that frustrates people. The last paragraph coupling happens so often that they’re disappointed when it doesn’t happen and they somehow interpret that as an unhappy ending, no matter how upbeat the story ending was. And though I have quite a few upbeat endings (I may be over estimating a little), I still manage to disappoint people.

This doesn’t bother me as much as it should. I’m satisfying people whether they want to admit it or not. Not every ending has to be happy.

Those last two sentences are filled with a lot more innuendo than I intended, but when talking about satisfying happy endings, you run into that risk.

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