Horrible Endings

It seems like most of my short stories are some sort of horror mix.  Setting aside what that says about me, it means I’ve run into a problem with my endings.

The main character dies at the end.  It’s usually just the way the story plays out in my head. And I feel that if you are playing with big bad enemies of whatever stripe, the chances of you living through are really low.  Especially if you’re a character over your head in a horror-based fiction.  But maybe that’s just my love of old noir films and novels coming through.

And I’ve occasionally thought that to be realistic, more characters should die in fiction.  But a friend recently told me that just because something is realistic doesn’t mean that someone wants to read it.  Even though it was a comment about something else, that really resonated with me.  People usually read for escapism, not realism, after all.

I’m thinking about redrafting a few things so that the main character didn’t die, and seeing if that’s received better.  Or maybe I should just start trying to sell my stories in France.

Brainstorming Endings

I’m writing this ahead of time in preparation for being on vacation next week.  And while I’m sitting here, I’m trying to decide how I intend to spend my extra writing time that week.  I can only write as fast as the story unfolds in my head, which means I can typically put out about a chapter a week without starting to hate what I’m writing.

If you’ve read my previous posts, you might be asking yourself what I’m going on about.  Because I’ve said elsewhere that I’m writing to an outline.  And I am!  But the thing about the outline is that it’s very general, and my chapters are very specific.  I can’t write a very good chapter if I’m not seeing it unfold in my head the way I see professional authors’ stories unfold when I’m reading them.

I’ve decided that while I’m out of town I’m going to spend some time trying to brainstorm some other endings.  I’ve talked about this with my husband, and he thinks I’m insane.  He’s definitely more of an outline writer than I am, and the thought that I was tooling along without having a specific ending in mind made him do a double-take.

I do have a specific ending in mind.  It’s right there in my outline.  I’m hopefully foreshadowing away.  The ending I initially thought up three months ago when I started writing this novel is a solid ending.  It makes sense given the characters.  It certainly fits in with the themes that are developing in the book.  And the plot is driving itself in that direction quite nicely without a lot of course-correction from me.

But here’s the thing: there’s maybe a better ending out there.  And don’t I owe it to myself, my characters, and my (fingers crossed) future readers to try to find it?  I think I do.  So I intend to go looking for it on my vacation, and I’ll let you know how it goes.  Even if I don’t find a better ending, maybe I’ll come up with some fun ideas to throw in my Folder of Random Ideas Waiting For Stories file.  Any which way I don’t think the time will be wasted.