Happy endings and loose ends in fiction


Last week, I wrapped up writing my 2012 release, The Anarchists. It’s the story about the impact of choice, and how four people decide the fate of the planet in the year 2050.

What I’m doing with it now is what I liken to post-production work on a film — adding in “effects,” and tying up loose ends.

Most of them, at least.

Fans of my book, The Lost Testament, usually mention one thing to me. I left a BIG plot thread dangling. Conversely, the end of my second book, The Revelation Gate, ties up pretty much everything.

My philosophy is this: life isn’t nice and neatly-packaged. You don’t always get “closure,” nor should you. My wife argues the same counterpoint: because people don’t always get closure in life, they want it in entertainment.

Do you want to be the “happily ever after” guy, or the “not everything gets resolved” guy?

Loose ends, or lack thereof, boil down to your characters. Mine are living, breathing organisms. They are selfish, loving, immature, brave, impulsive, and passive aggressive. Some of them are dynamic (they change); others are static (they don’t). You know both types — those who make the same destructive life choices no matter what and others impacted enough by the same choices and changed on a dime.

Do your characters deserve a gift-wrapped ending? Depends on their arc. What’s the point? If they seek redemption, maybe they deserve a happy ending, or at least the promise of one. On the other hand, descents into destruction are supposed to turn out badly. Let it make sense within the overall scope of your novel and never discount the value of a good surprise.

Brian Thompson’s passion is motivating and encouraging others to write and to pursue Do-It-Yourself publishing. He is also author of the Christian fiction thrillers The Lost Testament, andThe Revelation Gate. You can read more about Brian by visiting his author site.

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