Chasing Butterflies - And Then Some...

"There is nothing staid, nothing settled, in this universe.  All is rippling, all is dancing; all is quickness and triumph."  - Virginia Woolf, The Waves.

Chasing Butterflies and Happy Endings
When we write, we strive to find a happy ending for the main characters in our stories.  We toss every conceivable scenario in their path, we hold our breath as they stumble blindly along the plot line, we grimace as they fall unsuspectingly, we watch in silence as they pick themselves up, and of course, we cheer them on through the next horrific challenge.  Its surprising our characters don't poke their heads through the screens and scream 'enough is enough!'  By the time we reach the final scenes, we know it'll all be smiles and relieved sighs.

In years gone by, I'd pick up a novel, devour chapter upon chapter, each faster than the previous, knowing that each page would bring me closer to the inevitable happy ending. Imagine my horror when I first came across a book where that final scene never ensued.  As a young girl, I can't tell you how much those nonsensical endings used to annoy me.  Everyone loves a happy ending, we love reading fiction and might I suggest -  a few of us actually enjoy belting out a good old Whitney Houston love song.  Do you ever wonder, though, if all these happy endings lead us down that eternal path of destiny with blinders on?  And should we, in fact, be reading more genres with the not-so-rosy-endings.  The thought has crossed my mind.  How about you?  Do you always give your heroine a happy ending, or not?

Photocredit: via weheartit

A/N:  Hello Everyone,  I hope you are well.  If you are participating in the NaNoWriMo this year, I wish you all the best!  Right now, I can't believe how fast this year is flying by, its definitely time to re-assess the writing projects, trim the sails and check for the wind direction.  How are your writing projects coming along?  Talei xox


  1. I think we read for enjoyment, to escape or for understanding. Sometimes, understanding is the hardest part. Books that mirror real life with its unhappy endings may help us understand, but may limit the ultimate enjoyment of a book. I prefer to read wondering HOW the happy ending will arrive, then toss and turn, regretting the unhappy one.

  2. I like the not so happy endings once in a while. The whole "Lost" or "Inception" who knows what the H happened. I dont always like things wrapped up with a pretty bow. I am writing my ending in current WIP and its definitely a happy but horribly sad ending. At least so far!

  3. Unhappy endings drive me nuts. I can take a slightly "less-than-happy" one though. Predominantly, it must be happy. Same way with when I write. I want to see how a character overcomes and triumphs, not how he/she gets trodden into the mud!

  4. Just like life, not all stories have a happy ending!

  5. I don't like every book to have a happy ending. I love Virginia Woolfe and one of my favorite books in college was Wuthering Heights. OMG... the angst!!! It was my deep winter depression book, lol.

    As for expectations: I do think that the expectation that everything is going to work out all right, that there is always going to be a rosy ending at the end of our own story leads to some unrealistic expectations in our society.

  6. I do in my romance but not in my fantasy novels. Even if good triumphs over evil, there has to be a price.

  7. Hi,

    Love the pic! This is a thought provoking post, and I think you're probably right, most people hope for happy endings. To be honest I don't mind open endings, because one's own imagination is left to play devil's advocate with basic facts.

    In my latest historical epic novel there's a happy ending for the hero and heroine in a personal sense, but the reader is left pondering their future because the heroine's last thought is about what is to come. The reason being, the characters and the reader know terrible times are ahead. What will happen (?) ha ha, is the forerunner to the sequel! ;)


  8. Novels, movies and such are for escape. I think happy endings give us a sense of hope and help our psyches to deal with the mundane reality that life can be painful.

  9. I like happy endings and always give them to my characters. There's a difference, I think, between a perfect ending and a happy ending. The reader will always know that all is not rosy ahead for the characters, but what they just went through will give them the strength to face the future.

  10. I'm enjoying everyones comments! Thank you all!

    Liza, I agree. Definitely, books are great for entertainment and escapism. I guess I could save the unhappy endings for poems and short stories? ;-)

    Jessie, hearing you on the whole 'Inception' ending - was it a dream, did the top stop spinning? Hmmm...

    Carol, predominantly I love to see the MCs climb out of the mud too! ;-)

    Pat, absolutely, my friend. Disneyland, Hollywood, Music labels...they do a great job of selling happy endings though and its so ingrained in our lives from a young age.

    Danette, I have to say - that Catherine infuriated me SO much. I like to think that her and Heathcliff were happy in the afterlife... skipping through the heather. And agree on the expectations - I think we need to balance that versus reality and remain positive overall. Life's too short and we should make the most of it.

    Susan - I like it! I must check out your books!

    Francine - always a great way to bring readers to the sequel! I really need to check out your novel too! I don't mind open endings that 'make sense'. ;-)

    Bish, absolutely agree!

    Melissa, in a way, we want to give our characters and readers some relief at the end of what was - we hope - an epic journey through the book. ;-)

  11. That VW quote is brilliant.
    Good luck with NaNoWriMo!!!

  12. I'm a big believer in happy endings, but not everything tied up in a ribbon happy endings. Every issue can't be resolved perfectly.

    Love that Virginia Woolf quote!

  13. I love happy endings, too. But sometimes the story doesn't call for one. The ending has to fit the story.

  14. Agnes, thanks - the quote is great, I'm glad I stumbled across it recently. I'm not actually doing NaNoWriMo - but I'll take the luck for my WIP! ;-))

    Meredith, *high fives* I guess we look for the major issues to be resolved with novels. Everything else is secondary.

    Carol, great point. Totally agree, its the fit and the genre. ;-)


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