January 25, 2017

Writing Tips (XXII) Realistic or Hollywood ending

Have you ever wondered, "Is there any way I can write the ending  of my story that isn't an insult to my audience's intelligence, and so I can still look myself in the mirror in the morning?"  I think there is.  I divide the endings in two categories:
a -Realistic, and

b -Hollywood or Happy ending.
a – Realistic endings correspond, in my opinion, with dark, pessimistic.  Why?  Because no one fantasizes about losing, being cheated, dying. In reality we don't always get what we want. Even if we do, we can't keep it for that long. Reality, then, tends to be defined by disappointment, by failed objectives. Most relationships end. Everybody dies.
         b - Hollywood ending is about whether or not the hero accomplishes his goal.  It's not overly optimistic or impossible to achieve in real life. Fantasies are, after all, about victory not defeat. Hollywood ending is about fantasy and escapism.
The Hollywood ending is the end that the readers will like the best. And readers don't like to see the detective arrive “too late” to save his innocent beloved from the evil grip of the murderer.

In Hollywood, if nowhere else, the innocent never die, and love always conquers all.

What’s so terrible about that?

         So, if you plan to give readers what they want, give them- accomplishment, triumph, optimism.

         I must confess that my stories tend to slip to the darker side of life and I force myself to remember Danielle Steele's words. "If I want to cry, I just  have to look around me." And then I try to write at least a HFN ending.

Well, dear fellows- in -pens, how do you write the endings in your stories?


  1. I really wanted to make The Cock of the South into a Greek tragedy. I knew the world would expect a happy ending. I found a way to split the difference.

    1. I remember how sad I was – I cried - reading the last part of Dumas’s historical novel The Three Musketeers, The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later. I read the Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After three times. But the last part only once. So I admit I understand people’s wanting to see an optimistic end. Shadows of the Past had an HFN end, practically an open end, though not a cliffhanger. Till Life Do Us Part was a tragic end, initially. Then at the advice of my editor and my betareaders I changed it. Reluctantly at first, but it seems it was a better choice.
      Thank you for dropping by!

  2. I try for happy. To me reading is all about escapism. Life can be challenging enough. I read to escape into a world where anything is possible.

    1. Escapism is the word, indeed, Sandra. And the inner craving, like you say, to live where all is positive and at least HFN.

  3. I'm definitely an HEA girl. That's not to say I don't like to read dark or gritty books. I just want the characters I bond with to triumph in the end. I don't need fairytale endings, but I do need GOOD endings, if that makes sense :)

    Like Sandra, I read for escapism. I guess I write that way too. Nice post, Carmen!

    1. Thank you, Mae!
      You know, reading your reply and Sandra's and thinking of what I also say, it means that life isn't as easy or rosy as we want and reading/writing HEA or even HFN offer us the blessed escapism road.

  4. My novels have happy endings. As you said, life has enough tragedy. You said it perfectly with HEA, to stop it in the right place after the achievement of the goal/girl. If I have a hankering to read darker works, I'll go for the old classics or for urban fantasy, which is gritty but still escapist. Thanks for another on target writing post.

  5. A little dark can be a good thing, at least in writing:) It makes us appreciate the light.
    Have a great one, Carmen.

  6. Hope you have a pleasant, productive weekend, Carmen:)


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