I just finished The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick and it really got me thinking about happy endings. In the book Pat is working hard to earn a happy ending in his life, but everyone says he needs to stop dreaming and face reality. Should every story have a happy ending? Or do writers create unrealistic expectations for real life by having so many happy endings?
I personally have always been a fan of happy endings. I know not all lives end happily, but I think happy endings in books are very necessary to retaining hope in real life and seeing the beauty in it.
To be honest, we all have a lot more control over our lives than we think. We make our own happy endings. Sure, life can throw a lot of shit our way, but how we deal with it and move forward determines our fate.
To answer my own question, it depends on the story and where you end it. If the point of your story is to show the realities of war, you probably don’t want to go for the happy ending. But if you find yourself inserting a sad ending just because ‘life is cruel’ or ‘people are into authors killing off characters nowadays’ then you need to reevaluate. Being a writer means you have a lot of power, how many books have you read that changed your life or renewed your faith in humanity and life? Because of this, I think we owe our readers at least a somewhat happy ending when we can.
I don’t know how my current series will end, but I’m sure hoping there’s a happy ending in there.