By Kim Dare.
I look at happy endings from two different points of view.
Firstly as a reader…
I hate reading sad endings. I’m not just talking about romances. I don’t approve of unhappy endings in any genre. The only author who I’ll accept an unhappy ending from is Shakespeare – and that’s because I read them for the language rather than the plot.
For everyone that isn’t Shakespeare, the ending has to be happy. Or, to be more accurate, it has to be hopeful. If I want to be depressed I’ll watch the news.
There’s more than enough to get upset over in the real world. If an author has gone to the trouble to create a fictional world peopled by fictional characters, I really don’t get why they wouldn’t want to make it better than our real world. I’m not saying bad things shouldn’t happen. I don’t object to a little bit of reality in my fiction. Make me cry in the middle by all means – but when I reach the last page and close the book – I want to have hope.
Yes, I know there are terrible things happen in the world. Yes, there are often terrible things happening on our own doorsteps. But given the choice I want to read something that makes me believe that the light at the end of the tunnel is something better than an oncoming train.
It’s not so much escapism as it’s a desire to be reminded of the good things and good people that often pass unnoticed and uncommented upon in the midst of all the trouble in the real world - a desire to dwell on the nice bits of peoples lives that don’t get reported in papers.
In my opinion, fiction like all other art forms, should lift spirits rather than crush them, it should inspire hope rather than despair. That’s its reason for existing, that’s its job.
From a writer’s point of view…
I have a job to do too.
Before I go any further, I want to make it quite clear that I do realise the fictional characters in my books are indeed fictional characters. I am aware that on a strictly technical level they don’t exist.
I have a deal with my characters.
People turn up inside my head. They tell me their story so far. Sometimes they are happy stories, sometimes they are quite the opposite.
But, whatever’s happened in their past, from then on its my job to get them to a happy ending. I introduce them to another character (or sometimes a few characters – but more about ménages in a few weeks time) and I write down what it would take for those characters to find the happy ending that they need together. That’s what writing is all about for me.
Sometimes the characters have to go through a few different versions of hell before they find that happiness. No one said finding a happy ending is easy! Some characters don’t arrive ready to leap straight into the ending. That’s why I promise the characters a happy ending, not necessarily a universally happy journey towards it.
But by the end of it all, I expect characters wounds to begin to heal heal. Their faith in humanity, love and the world in general should be restored. They ought to find the other half of themselves. They should discover that the world is more than the doom and gloom always preached on the news.
Okay, all that doesn’t happen in every story.
Sometimes it’s as simple as two people who don’t actually have much to angst over discovering that they’ll be finding their happy ending with someone unexpected. Sometimes the characters are reasonably happy to start with. Sometimes it’s nice to write about people who not only have happy endings but have happy lives in general – light hearted feel good books that don’t dwell on too much any sort of angst.
But at the same time, I will admit that I have a soft spot for characters that have been severely put through the ringer by life before they arrive in one of my books. Maybe that’s because they are the characters who need a happy ending the most, maybe it’s because they represent something of the tragic real world stories that I can’t get out of my head until I’ve written a happy ending for someone who found themselves in that situation.
I can’t change the whole world (although I’m far from giving up trying) I can’t give everyone in the real world the happy ending I believe everyone deserves.
But in my little world, in the world that exists in my books. I can do that. I can make sure every single character who deserves a happy ending gets exactly what they need. That's a good feeling and maybe it’s part of the reason I write, to remind myself as well as the characters that there is hope.
As a writer and as a reader, as you might have guessed, happy endings are very important to me.
Happy endings and hopeful endings – long may they thrive.
Kink, love and a happy ending. Do you Dare?