Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Happy Endings

Sometimes I wonder if there's a place in the real world for revenge. I know that in a novel, revenge always seems somehow attainable. There is always some way to get back at someone for the horrible things they have done, even if it's decades later. But more often than naught, the character that has been hurt, even in some serious way, moves beyond hate to the point of acceptance, and ultimately forgiveness.

Does that work in real life?

In real life, there seem to be an abundance of people who just don't care about the consequences of their actions. There are people who are mean, conceited, and generally out for their own benefit. And, as humans, most of us can recognize those qualities (even if in small quantities) in ourselves. But how often do you run across the widely accepted image of a hero/heroine in real life? How often do you find someone that is truly selfless, even if they openly make mistakes and sometimes lose their cool?

In nine novels (and countless rewrites), I have perfected the ability to produce a main character that can withstand tragedy and still come out on top. There is heartache. There is anger. There is a delicate balance of all things good, bad, and ugly. It is undeniably real. And I feel that most people can connect with those characters, no matter what age or background they come from.

But writing about those things is often easier than finding them in real life. No one is perfect. At some point, every person is going to do something in their own self-interest. There are intelligent people out there who do stupid things. There are assholes who occasionally do something kind. And there is no guarantee that even if you do everything by the book, someone won't come back six years after the fact and hurt you out of spite.

Maybe that's why we write. Maybe that's why we read. Maybe we're all looking for the ending we can't find anywhere else.

It doesn't have to be happy.

It just needs to feel complete.



  1. Great post, with great thoughts! I like realistic characters, but every once in a while I just have to read something with hero/ines. I think we all like to see people get the good things they deserve.

  2. Love, love, love!

    As a chronic procrastinator (which is really just an excuse, isn't it? - it's not a medical condition), it's an amazing feeling when you complete something - especially when it's before the deadline.

    But "completion" can be found in a night of productive writing, or that book on your bedside table that you've been chipping at for days.

  3. @ Marion - I know what you mean. I create horrible people in novels (because there has to be a villain/obstacle, right?) and it's always good to see them get it in the end :)

  4. @ Ryan - I think chronic procrastination should be recognized as a medical condition. That would be fantastic! Except for the part that it would probably fall under psychological problems, which I already have an abundance of :p

  5. We like sporting events partly because there's conflict and then someone wins. If our team (hero) isn't the winner, there's always another day. The same thing happens in a fiction series, ending with a partial success or near win, to be continued in the next story. The athletes are real-life people, though extraordinary, but the situation is not--it has a clear beginning and ending. So athletic events are like stories with real people. I think the difference with character behavior in real life is that we're free of a framework that points to the end--or new beginning.
    Though it's now popular to malign organized religion, faith systems do create frameworks for acting out a life with heroism!

    I think this post is WAY off topic - but you jogged my thoughts. Thanks...