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August 12, 2013 / ljbradburn-Smith

Happily ever after


Happily ever after is something that everyone wants. Surely? Maybe in their lives, but can the same be said for the novels we read? The fairytale ending of the Prince and the Princess living together forever in perfect blissful harmony, with not a pesky pea in sight to ruin their comfortable union, smacks of the cliché school-story ending “and then they woke up and it was all a dream”. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this (in fact some of my most exciting ideas/stories do end when I wake up so I can understand why children often go down this route) it seems to have become a bit unsatisfying after the dramatic events of a book to have a peaceful ending. There seems to be a need for at least a little bit of sadness or loss to put all the happiness in perspective.

I think the reason that we can have a problem with happy endings is that we feel it isn’t realistic enough, which seems ironic given we are happy enough to accept all kinds of other fantastical events that have gone on throughout the novel. I don’t think it is something we can help though, like dystopian fiction I think people can’t help but find it more intriguing and immediate if there is something to fear and leave us wanting more.

I enjoy happy endings, I like to know that my book friends are happy and I can leave them to it, with minimal mourning, and move on to my next set of fictional friends but I do think I would be bored if all the novels I read ended this way. Whilst I have been really annoyed when a character I love is killed off, by a mean author, when the end of the novel was only moments away, if I always knew that every danger, in a book, was non-threatening to the characters lives, would I care about them so much? Who knows! For me the most important thing is variety and I think it is true that we need some bad to show us how good the good really is but we also need happy endings to give us hope.

Right i’m off to kiss my Prince Charming.



Leave a Comment
  1. Gray Dawster / Aug 12 2013 2:12 pm

    What a lovely posting my friend, you have covered the realities and the fantasies of books that often end with a happy conclusion but it is much better to have a nice balance between the two, of course after saying that my characters rarely make it to the finale 😦

    If the characters are strong enough throughout the book then I guess a happy ending is acceptable but only if there are some trials and tribulations along the way, lots of on the edge of one’s seat moments, scenarios that will enthuse the reader, perhaps even offering a twist right at the end, which could have the main character being killed off or… Well as long as it is interesting enough it doesn’t matter what the ending has in store for the characters, and mine usually suffer a great deal before being slaughtered, I mean eased out of the storyline shall we say? 🙂 lol

    Have a brilliant rest of Monday Lydia 🙂

    Andro xx

    • ljbradburn / Aug 31 2013 1:17 pm

      haha! Oh no, your poor characters 😉 Thanks very much, it is a subject which intrigues me, in life as well as in fiction, I try to tell myself that I should use the bad things to remind me how good the good can be, of course that is quite often easier said than done, in the moment. I agree, a book has to have some sadness/challenge to keep it interesting and sometimes to offer the reader something to solve/invest in. You are right though, as long as it is interesting then it doesn’t matter, I think that is the key really – an interesting happy ending is fine but a bland nothing happy ending not so much. hmmmm 😉 x

  2. Bookworm / Aug 13 2013 1:55 pm

    I adore your blog and have nominated you for some virtual blogging awards. Check out the page here:

    • ljbradburn / Aug 25 2013 9:21 pm

      Arrr thanks very much, you are too kind 🙂 I will check it out now! x

  3. L. Palmer / Aug 28 2013 5:41 pm

    Similar to what Gray Dawster wrote, I believe a happy ending has to be earned and fought for. There needs to be the bittersweet to punctuate the good things that happen, to make them more valuable. Much has to be lost before anyone can gain that elusive happy ending. As a writer, it is hard to have your characters pay those prices because you care about those characters.

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