For both the reader and the writer, endings are extremely powerful things. I know I feel like celebrating when I’ve typed the words THE END on a manuscript, even though I’m fully aware that in the life of a finished manuscript the hard work has only just begun. Which type of ending did I go for? Fairy Tale, Hollywood, Bollywood or Hopeless?
Hopeless endings are few and far between, and rarely have a place in children’s literature.
I guess we’re generally conditioned to expect the happy ending. I suspect it’s what most children want, and perhaps what most adults want too. Imagine reading lots of books where the whole book is dark and grim and the ending no less so, the outcome so hopeless that you wonder what frame of mind the writer was in, or what he or she had gone through in their life, to end a book in that way.
Numerous studies have shown that a person’s reaction to a traumatic event can be significantly leavened by an ending that is positive – as long as the peak pain felt during the experience is less than the pain experienced at the end.
Recently, debate has intensified with regards to the darkness in teenage literature, specifically the supposed rise in ‘Sick Lit’. Alongside the waves of paranormal romances and dark dystopian thrillers, are readers looking for escapism or to be protected from dark issues and themes? Is it time for a return to ‘lighter’ teen/YA fiction? Or should we be encouraging authors to continue to explore the dark themes that teenagers need help coping with?
I’ll be interested in hearing what other authors and industry professionals have to say, but regarding endings specifically, I think most people would want an All’s Well That Ends Well ending.
The Long Weekend book trailer