I've been writing a short story about a boy who accidentally killed his brother and went through a serious trauma that he even started taking drugs (knowing that he is only 12 y.o). In this story, I tackle the way he responded to the tragedy especially that he lives within a dysfunctional family and how his mother struggles to help him. The problem is that I have in mind three endings, two of them are sad and one is happy. How can I know which one will satisfy mostly my readers?

  • There might be some helpful discussion in the Related questions tagged 'Ending'…. i don't think there's any way for us to advise you based only on what you've asked here (other than preferring 'happy' or 'sad' endings in general). Things to maybe consider: your protagonist is 12, but are your readers 12 or are they adults? Also short stories do not always 'resolve' the main conflict, so there is middle-ground for an ambiguous or un-resolved ending.
    – wetcircuit
    Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 19:33
  • You could consider writing all three endings, and then decide which one is best (or even publish all three).
    – user54131
    Commented Aug 12, 2022 at 5:44
  • I do not think that a serious trauma need happen for a 12 year old or any other age person to start taking addictive drugs. Anyone who takes an addictive drug a few times, perhaps finding the stash of a relative ,or friend, has a chance of becoming addicted to it, whether they have any traumas in their past or not. Yes, 12 years old is young to start using drugs, but not unheard of - see Drew Barrymore, as one example out of many. And tobacco,tough legal, is very addictive, and I once heard my brother say he started smoking when aged 11. Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 17:59

1 Answer 1


Satisfaction of the reader depends on what the reader deems useful or seeks to find. If this story is about survival and overcoming then a happy ending could be satisfying, but if clarification and knowledge needs to be pointed out, then perhaps more adversity can do that, even if it's not a happy ending.

Before you choose which ending, maybe ask yourself, what do I want to achieve with this work ? is it to have an impact or just to get consumed. Do you want to only sell as much or want to tell as much ?.

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