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42 votes

What makes an ending tragic?

Kurt Vonnegut's Shapes of Stories Satirical writer Kurt Vonnegut describes the "shape" of stories on a simplified graph, plotting happiness and misfortune from beginning to end. He's ...
wetcircuit's user avatar
  • 26.2k
38 votes

Is it a bad idea to have multiple bad endings and only one good ending?

It depends on your genre - in horror games this can be a very good decision If you are going for a darker themed game, and your description suggests that you are doing this, then having multiple bad ...
Secespitus's user avatar
  • 5,686
37 votes

Is it time to start closing up my novel?

Finish the story. Don't worry about the word count. When it comes time to do revision, rewriting, and editing you can look at ways of possibly splitting it into two or more volumes. Stories need ...
a4android's user avatar
  • 1,115
30 votes
Accepted

How advisable is it to end a love story on a downer?

In line with what Fred Bob said, I think it can feel upsetting as a reader if the romance is the main plot-line and it just ends with one of them dying or whatever. I am not against unhappy endings, ...
Sarah Stark's user avatar
30 votes

Non-trope happy ending?

Easiest example where not all protagonists find "someone else" is The Lord of the Rings. Of the nine members of the Fellowship, Aragorn and Sam are the only ones who marry within the course of the ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
22 votes

Writing a Satisfying Ending

Throughout your book, you, the author, are continually making promises to the reader about the ending of your book, most notably (a) in your choice of genre, (b) at the beginning of your book, and (c) ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
  • 56.4k
21 votes

Is it a bad idea to have multiple bad endings and only one good ending?

Yes If you offer choices to the player, but there is only one that yields positive results, then yes, that is bad design. I do not write video games, but a lot of Table-top RPGs. I always think of ...
JP Chapleau's user avatar
  • 1,898
21 votes

Is it a bad idea to have multiple bad endings and only one good ending?

This is actually the classic video game narrative. Consider a game like Super Mario Brothers. There is essentially one good ending --rescuing the princess --and everything else is a bad ending! To ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
  • 56.4k
20 votes

What makes an ending tragic?

Tragedy is relative A story that ends with a sole survivor of the human race realizing she is alone could be hopeful. A story that ends up with you winning a million dollars (while watching someone ...
Jedediah's user avatar
  • 8,615
19 votes

How do you make an unhappy ending satisfying for the readers?

I can't help but feel that you're looking at this backwards - for a "bad" ending to work effectively it needs to be a natural product of the story. Starting with the idea of "I want a ...
motosubatsu's user avatar
  • 7,233
18 votes

Do Short Stories Need Definitive Endings?

I'm a big fan of ambiguous endings, when done well. The key is this: Your story doesn't have to tie up all loose ends, many, perhaps most short stories don't. But if you want people to be happy ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
  • 56.4k
18 votes
Accepted

Non-trope happy ending?

Everyone gets something, but it doesn’t have to be romantic. Perhaps one MC gets his/her dream job in London and must move. That person would be leaving friends behind, but a new chapter of his life ...
Rasdashan's user avatar
  • 12.4k
17 votes
Accepted

Does my protagonist *have* to succeed?

No, your character does not have to succeed. Along the same lines as Mark's answer, in which competence and proactivity are concerned, you can also add to your mix the idea of sympathy. Each of ...
SFWriter's user avatar
  • 23.8k
17 votes
Accepted

Is it time to start closing up my novel?

Remember your goal: you have set out to tell a story. So tell the story. Forget the wordcount. You feel the story needs more meat, give it more meat. You feel you need to explore more themes, go ahead ...
Galastel supports GoFundMonica's user avatar
16 votes

Of plottwists and endings

People from the comments dislike dream twists but I'm curious how stories like "Alice in wonderland" or "Total recall" or "Wizard of Oz" pulled those endings off. The problem with "just a dream" is ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 98.4k
16 votes

Is it okay to have a sequel start immediately after the end of the first book?

What you are describing is a cliffhanger. It is an ending that is clearly not an ending. The name comes from the idea of an ending where the protagonist is hanging from a cliff, with no clear sign of ...
PoorYorick's user avatar
  • 2,832
15 votes

What type of protagonists get happy endings?

It Largely Comes Down to Genre It’s rare for protagonists not to get some kind of happy ending, and a modern development to take a broader view of what kind of ending is a happy one, especially for a ...
Davislor's user avatar
  • 1,576
14 votes

Should mystery stories have resolutions?

Mystery readers strongly expect the mystery to be resolved. If the mystery isn't the focus of the story, you can avoid rousing (and dashing) mystery readers' expectations of resolution by marketing ...
Dale Hartley Emery's user avatar
14 votes

Is it okay to have a sequel start immediately after the end of the first book?

The first book needs to end. The problem isn't the sequel starting mid-sentence, it's that the first book needs to feel like you've landed the plane. The big issues opened in Book 1, all need ...
wetcircuit's user avatar
  • 26.2k
14 votes

What makes an ending "happy"?

A happy ending is about the emotional response the work as a whole evokes in the reader (or viewer). A sad ending or any other type would be the same. It's the state you've reduced the audience to ...
Cyn's user avatar
  • 32.3k
13 votes
Accepted

What makes an ending tragic?

That is the real question, isn't it? What is it that makes an ending sad, tragic, happy, bittersweet? What does it take for a story to make us feel things if not for its relevance to our own ...
Thanasis Karavasilis's user avatar
12 votes

Is it a bad idea to have multiple bad endings and only one good ending?

It's actually a Good Idea, especially in games This kind of structure (one good ending, many bad endings) is very common in the genre of visual novels. These kinds of games are essentially choose ...
Cellion's user avatar
  • 231
12 votes

What are key features and pacing in a satisfying ending to a science fiction novel?

Leave the readers imagining the future. For me, at least, a satisfying ending, besides the things you have mentioned, leaves me imagining the future, for the MC(s), and/or for the world they live in. ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 98.4k
12 votes

What type of protagonists get happy endings?

Happy endings tend to work for more relatable protagonists that feel like normal people. We expect Spiderman to have a happy ending; because people love Peter Parker, his awkward romance, his failures ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 98.4k
12 votes

How do you make an unhappy ending satisfying for the readers?

The goals of the protagonist may be different from the goals of the story. Suppose that all that the protagonist really wants is to find a wife, marry, have kids, be happy. Instead, in pursuit of that ...
Fluff's user avatar
  • 149
11 votes

Should mystery stories have resolutions?

One way to utilize an unsolved mystery in a non-mystery genre story, is to give each of your main characters a conflicting theory of "who done it". Then let their investigations overlap in ways that ...
Henry Taylor's user avatar
  • 10.8k
11 votes

Should mystery stories have resolutions?

A story should finish what it starts. You control what, exactly, you choose to start. If you're not going to be finishing a murder mystery with a solution, you need to be careful not to set the story ...
Standback's user avatar
  • 28.1k
11 votes
Accepted

How To Settle On An Ending?

I assume this is a SFF novel and not part of a series (yet.) If this assumption is correct, and you are hoping to publish and be read, you need an ending that fills the contract with the reader - as ...
SFWriter's user avatar
  • 23.8k
11 votes

Does my protagonist *have* to succeed?

Promises to the Reader This is one of my favorite models for understanding what readers will or will not accept. The idea is that every story promises its readers that certain things will happen. ...
Arcanist Lupus's user avatar
11 votes

How advisable is it to end a love story on a downer?

One of the most well-known romance stories of all-time ends on a downer; Romeo & Juilet. Despite being a tragedy about two ill-fated lovers in a situation doomed from the start, it has remained ...
jbrownwrld's user avatar

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