Why I Am Not a ‘Happy Endings’ Writer
A few months ago, my sister finished reading Shattered Illusions. When she called me to tell me that she had finished reading it, she sounded upset and frustrated. When I asked her what was wrong, she flipped out.
“How could you end it like that?! What the heck! It’s not fair!”
My response was: ‘Life’s not fair, darling.’
Obviously, that didn’t soothe her.
“Why didn’t you give them a happy ending?!”
“Because that wouldn’t be realistic.”
“Who cares about realism?!”
I gave up. There was no use arguing with her.
A week later, my aunt finished reading it. She had the same reaction. Then my best friend. And my cousins. People I’ve never met who live in countries I’ve never been to, sent me emails, Facebook messages and tweets. The outrage! The nerve! How could I do such a thing? Why? Why would I do such an injustice? (I’m not going to spoil anything, I promise).
What most of these people didn’t know was that, originally, there was an epligoue. There was a ‘happily ever after, loose ends tied, walkinto the sunset arm in arm’ type of epilogue. After I was writing it, I felt sick to my stomach. I was disgusted with myself. I didn’t turn it into my editor. It’s sitting in a drawer somewhere. I should probably burn it. I spent so much time crafting these characters and their stories, and the epilogue felt like a cheap way of getting out of giving them the endings they deserved. Books that dive into such deep, emotionally scarring places cannot end on such a happy go lucky note. Case in point: Harry Potter.
Recently, J.K. Rowlings made a shocking and upsetting revelation about the how Ron and Hermoine shouldn’t have ended up together (the nerve!!!). Following this revelation, writers and bloggers came out to the interweb to share their opinions. I know I’m late in my response, but hey, better late than never, right?
The blogosphere has been swirling with thoughts, reactions, and gifs (which were as hilarious as they were devastating). There was one article, however, that caught my attention. The biggest problem of the Harry Potter series, this writer claims, was the fact that Rowling gave all of the main characters a happy ending. If I remember correctly, the last line of Harry Potter is ‘and all was well.’ What? That’s it?! All was well? They went through years of pain, suffering, torture and chaos, but suddenly, all is well? How could that be? It’s not realistic!
Yes, Ms. Rowling, I’m talking to you.
Harry Potter isn’t just a book series, it’s a lifestyle. They’re not *just* books. The characters and the story line mean so much to so many people. And yet, at the end of all of the hardships, the books get tied into a neat little bow, where everyone lives happily ever after. They didn’t receive the ending they deserved. I’m not here to request for an alternate ending, because, all things considered, I guess the books had to end that way. I understand why Rowling choose to give her characters that ending, if solely for the sake of her peace of mind. I appreciated the epilogue when I read the seventh book the first time, but everytime after, I’ve sighed in disappointment. I’m not here to compare myself to the master storyteller that is J.K. Rowling, I would never even begin to place myself next to her. But, the epilogue did teach me a thing or two about what to avoid with my own writing. I didn’t want to spend energy creating characters that couldn’t be real to me or my readers. I couldn’t allow their lives to fold up into a two dimensional ending.
And, if I had given the characters of Shattered Illusions a happy ending, there would be no room for a sequel….