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38

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 endings is fine. I've played quite a few horror games that were created with the RPG Maker (I am not affiliated with the company) for example where there are ...


37

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 satisfying endings. They're what sells the reader on reading your next book. Sell them short shrift and they won't be back. You will only be able to find the ...


30

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, but they have to be done right. I feel like the best way to have the relationship end unhappily is if there is a greater message you are trying to portray. For ...


30

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 novel. Merry and Pippin are mentioned in the appendixes to have found wives later, but that is not part of the plot per se. Legolas and Gimli remain bachelors for ...


21

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 success in multiple levels or factors. This allows for the PCs to go "well shucks, we almost got 'im, but at least we [...]" This also increases the threads ...


21

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 make this work, I would suggest you view your game as one long experience that leads ultimately to the good ending. In order to do this, however, you need to ...


21

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) what happens close to the end. You don't have to keep all those promises, but if you want happy readers, you had better know what promises you are making and ...


18

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 with your story, you do need to bring it to some kind of satisfying conclusion that doesn't rely on a larger context, something that makes readers feel they did ...


18

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 has begun. Cause for celebration and off he/she goes to London. Another might discover a passion for something and choose to change the direction of his life - ...


17

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 these three attributes can be seen on a scale of low to high. For any character in your work, you can adjust how competent they are, how proactive they are, and how ...


17

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 and explore them. (If you don't know what to write, that's a separate problem - a separate question.) A story should be exactly as long as it needs to be. ...


16

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 generally that the reader is left with the impression "nothing really happened." That is a disappointing ending, a waste of time. An exception to this is like "...


16

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 rescue - it sets up a direct sequel with no time gap. Cliffhangers are usually used in serials. The story is not meant to be over when you reach the ...


14

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 satisfying resolves. There can be hanging threads but the major conflict, and the major character arcs must feel complete. Mary Robinette Kowal teaches a story ...


13

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 it as something other than a mystery.


12

It depends. Ending each chapter on a cliff hanger is a plot device used in some genres, like thrillers. Dan Brown uses it extensively in his books, as do some other writers. If well done, they can make the book more exciting, and gives it that 'can't put down' feel. On the other hand, if done badly, it irritates the reader, as it seems the only purpose of ...


12

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 your own adventure stories, sometimes including interactive gameplay elements, that often include many ways for your point of view character to fail or die before ...


12

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. It should signal a new phase in life for the MC(s). Something has changed, either in them personally, or in the universe more generally. Perhaps they have ...


12

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 at the end. There are no quantitative measures because no one's journey involves ticking boxes. Every story, no matter how simplified, will have good and bad ...


11

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 challenge and later prove the strength of their friendship, antipathy or love. In such a scenario, the original mystery can remain unsolved as long as each of ...


11

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 up in a way that the story will be unsatisfying without a solution. Let's imagine you've got a mystery you don't want to solve. A few examples: The point is ...


11

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. Some of these promises made by the genre. A murder mystery will reveal who the murderer was, and how they achieved the murder. A space opera will include ...


11

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 popular enough that people continue to perform it and write variations upon it today.


10

I would turn the question around: What makes a happy ending work? I think it's this: The character has earned the happy ending. The happy ending comes about as a direct result of the main character's actions. At the very least, the happy ending comes about as a result of the main character realizing something (as in The Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy realizes ...


10

Premature Ends are Necessary Let’s say, conservatively, all your choices have only two options and no more. Suppose every path through the game lets you make ten choices, and every possible branch you can take is unique. You would need to write 2,047 unique branches and 1,024 unique endings. If each screen has about as many words on it as the pages in ...


10

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 you have set it up in the beginning. And, the ending should be satisfying to the reader. A few thoughts: The story should stand alone, and there should be no ...


9

There are several risks you run with a character who mostly fails. Your character may feel incompetent. A protagonist usually needs to gain our sympathy and our respect. If the chain of failures is absolute, if they have no victories or notable accomplishments, that doesn't necessarily mean we don't love 'em. But, it does mean we don't love them for their ...


9

Let's make it clear - there is conflict resolution and there is ending, and those two are usually different things. Conflict resolution is normally the climax of the book, but it is the ending that leaves that "warm glow" with a reader. Conflict resolution should follow traditional plot building schemes, being at least somewhat unexpected, comprehensive and ...


9

Frankly, there should be no problem finding an audiance. A particular Young Adult in my closer family devours such unhappy, dystopious stories. She does get very upset when people die or don't "get each other" at the end, but returns to those books again and again... Me, personally, I'm not so much interested in love stories, but I recall some of the most ...


9

Whether your novel is in the Romance genre or just a book where romance is the central topic, it's all about how you define your characters and their goals. We the readers need to know what would make them happy. At least what the characters believe will make them happy. If the reader assumes what they want is love (in the mainstream sense of settling ...


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