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Thread: What type of ending do you enjoy?

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW TroyJackson's Avatar
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    What type of ending do you enjoy?

    Always has to have a happy ending?

    Always has to have a sad ending?

    Mixture of the two?

    One that keeps you guessing even after it says 'THE END'?
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  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW TroyJackson's Avatar
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    A followup curiosity -

    Does it affect your decision if it's a single story or a series (2,3,10 book)?
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    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
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    Almost any ending, as long as it's well-written. An ending that sticks with me is good, and sometimes the heart-breaking endings do that more than the happy ones.

    I dislike all-encompassing, Harry Potter style epilogues that block me from imagining how the characters' lives continue. I also hate abrupt cliffhangers right in the middle of the climax like The Knife of Never Letting Go.
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  4. #4
    The Crazy Man in the Sun. Feel me. WillSauger's Avatar
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    What I enjoy? A happy ending, no buts about it.

    What makes a good ending? Resolution to what occurred. If that's good, or bad, so be it.

    And one that keeps me guessing (as in unanswered questions, without likelihood of sequel) is a reason why I will think twice before I read something by that author again.

    EDT for follow up: A trilogy/series must end on a good note, but the sequential books leading to that end does not need to have consistently good endings. I'm fine for a sad ending in the series, but not the series ending on sad note.
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  5. #5
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    A satisfying ending. It can be happy or sad, I don't mind. What I really hate is when a story just stops. That kind of fail is more common with short stories than novels, I think.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by WillSauger View Post
    What I enjoy? A happy ending, no buts about it.

    What makes a good ending? Resolution to what occurred. If that's good, or bad, so be it.

    And one that keeps me guessing (as in unanswered questions, without likelihood of sequel) is a reason why I will think twice before I read something by that author again.

    EDT for follow up: A trilogy/series must end on a good note, but the sequential books leading to that end does not need to have consistently good endings. I'm fine for a sad ending in the series, but not the series ending on sad note.
    This (the bold).

    Unanswered questions - it depends. Gone With the Wind - good ending, although unanswered questions remain. Loads of bad ones exist.

  7. #7
    here and there again fadeaccompli's Avatar
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    Resolution of the primary plot threads, in a reasonable and plausible but mildly surprising manner.

    Mind, I'm being a bit circular here: of course I'm going to find an ending "reasonable" and "plausible" if I like it. But I'm always a bit bemused at people complaining about implausibly saccharine endings, because I can't remember the last time I read a book that had one. Maybe I bail on those books early, maybe I'm lucky... but I'm far more familiar with reading books that suddenly dodge towards Ironic Tragedy at the last minute in an attempt to be "edgy" or "realistic," as if unhappy endings are somehow more plausible.

    I think one of my favorite examples of a good way to end a book is Elizabeth Bear's Dust. The ending is triumphant, tragic, and almost cliffhanger like, as it finishes right as a dramatic and very dangerous huge new change is being implemented... but it's all perfectly logical and satisfying as a resolution of the primary plot threads and problems raised by the book so far. (And having it end on the start of a huge new challenge works because it's the first of a trilogy, too.)

    Conversely, I have long loathed Hyperion for the way it ended, both with the final novel and with many of the individual stories within; some of the dramatic tragedy was plausible and reasonable, but some of it seemed absolutely arbitrary and used as a way to heighten the "Oh god life is TERRIBLE yes TERRIBLE and UNFAIR and WOEFUL are you horrified yet? because if not more ARBITRARY HORROR WOE WOE WOE" tone. And then it ended on a complete lack of resolution for the central question of the book. I would have been satisfied with a tragic ending; I would have been surprised and puzzled at a happy ending, unless something really clever was pulled off; stopping at a lack of ending felt like a cheap trick.

    But then, I am seldom in favor of Lady Or The Tiger endings to stories. It can be very powerful if done well, but far too often comes across as cheap and lazy. As if the author couldn't figure out how to end things in a reasonable and satisfying manner, so just shrugged it off and tried to pass it off as clever to not have done the work.

  8. #8
    Will Food for Write Dimanagul's Avatar
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    I tend to like it when the resolution is reached with a predictable result but a holds pleasantly surprising method. I tend to put a great deal of weight on the how of a story rather than the what.

    But there's nothing more disappointing when I anticipate a creative resolution and it just happens exactly as you expect it to.
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    Mid-Leap asmira's Avatar
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    I like happy and sad endings pretty equally. As long as the story makes me think or feel something, I feel like I've gotten my time and value out of the experience. I don't even mind if a series ends on a sad note.

    What I don't like is when it's sad or happy *just* to be sad or happy. And I've seen people do both in writing. You have to build up to your end, whatever it is. And for the gods' sakes... an epilogue is not a Band-Aid!

  10. #10
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    I like the heroes to win and the bad guys to lose, which is the definition of a "happy ending" to me. That may mean that the heroes lose their lives in the final battle, but the bad guys are defeated by their sacrifice (what I call a "bittersweet" ending), but the heroes still win. I'm satisfied.

    I detest endings that don't give me a solid conclusion. I want to know who won, who lost, and what that cost. Stories like The Lady or the Tiger just piss me right off and I'll blacklist that author (or director, if it's a movie) onward. I understand that some people really like being able to decide what it all meant, but I'm not one of them.
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  11. #11
    Always learning virtue_summer's Avatar
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    I don't have any single preference when it comes to this. I want it to fit the story and different endings often work for different stories.

  12. #12
    all hail zombie babies! CrastersBabies's Avatar
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    Thoughtful and genuine resolution of character arcs. I like an ending written so well that I could write what comes next w/o second-guessing myself. An ending that makes sense. An ending that is thought-provoking.

    I also prefer happier endings, even if some of the characters have changed in good or bad ways.
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  13. #13
    practical experience, FTW Coco82's Avatar
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    Happy? Maybe not happy per se, but satisfying. If I like a character I don't want them to die of course, but that goes w/o saying. Also, I do prefer series. All the novels I read are part of a series and I like to seek out new ones while I wait for the next installment of a current favorite, ie. I love ASOIAF, but not sure when Book 6 will come out so I may start some of the Baen books since they've just been added to Kindle.
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  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW RobertEvert's Avatar
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    Any ending that makes me want to think about the book after its over.
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    What kind of endings do I enjoy?

    Good ones.

    Quote Originally Posted by RobertEvert View Post
    Any ending that makes me want to think about the book after its over.
    I would also add that it doesn't leave me in an unhappy little mess. That doesn't mean it has to be a happy ending but I will put an author down and never read him again if his endings leave a blasted crater in the emotional landscape of his characters, reducing them to quivering wrecks.
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  16. #16
    Following my North Star L. Y.'s Avatar
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    Personally, I like a happy ending (too many sad endings in RL). But I also appreciate that bittersweet ending in which the MC (or other prominent characters) sacrifices it all to save the day.



    ETA: When endings are not resolved, I would hesitate to buy another book by that author.
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  17. #17
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin VirtuousKnight's Avatar
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    Any ending will do, as long as I'm satisfied with it. Though I prefer a mixture of a sad and happy ending, depending on the book.

  18. #18
    Plotting her escape... Escape Artist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertEvert View Post
    Any ending that makes me want to think about the book after its over.
    I like endings like that, too. The ones that resonate.

    Other than that, I tend to enjoy bittersweet endings far more than happy ones. Just as an example - 1984 - I mean, how sad is that? Winston went through all of that and then just caved, but...

    What makes it sweet, to me, is that if he and Julia were willing to rebel, even if in so small a way, there've got to be others out there as well. In that thought is where I found hope. That somewhere, in the future, all their trouble would not be for naught.

    Books like Sophie Kinsella's Can You Keep a Secret? - while very well written, IMO - depress the fuck out of me. I mean, the MC dumps her long-time boyfriend with no real consequences and ends up with a millionaire who's killer in bed and confident and... ...life's not anything like that. I feel lied to with books like that.

    Life is messy and sad and difficult, with just a few bright spots here and there and I like books (and endings) that reflect this.
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  19. #19
    Benefactor Member Roxxsmom's Avatar
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    I'm a sucker for happy, or at least satisfying, endings. I don't want to see the protagonist bite it at the end, or become evil, or lose the guy or gal she or he loves to the villain (or simply see them go their separate ways).

    But I also like thoughtful endings. So if an ending is grittier, I may enjoy it if it's well written and makes me think. Sometimes tearjerkers or incomplete victories work. At some level, the protagonist has to sacrifice something for his or her success. So if the sacrifice is presented in a way that's meaningful, it can still leave me feeling good at the end--even if it's poignant.
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  20. #20
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    One that fits, that satisfactorily concludes the story in an organic, connected fashion. Regardless of genre.

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  21. #21
    Tumhe na koci puujetha Death Wizard's Avatar
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    Most of the good guys can be dead as long as a couple have made it and have some hope.



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  22. #22
    practical experience, FTW rwm4768's Avatar
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    I like the right ending. Most of the time, that's a happy ending, but if the book is building toward a sad ending, I can live with it. If done effectively, it can be all the more powerful.

  23. #23
    is watching you via her avatar jjdebenedictis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fadeaccompli View Post
    Conversely, I have long loathed Hyperion for the way it ended, both with the final novel and with many of the individual stories within; some of the dramatic tragedy was plausible and reasonable, but some of it seemed absolutely arbitrary and used as a way to heighten the "Oh god life is TERRIBLE yes TERRIBLE and UNFAIR and WOEFUL are you horrified yet? because if not more ARBITRARY HORROR WOE WOE WOE" tone. And then it ended on a complete lack of resolution for the central question of the book. I would have been satisfied with a tragic ending; I would have been surprised and puzzled at a happy ending, unless something really clever was pulled off; stopping at a lack of ending felt like a cheap trick.
    Hyperion by Dan Simmons? Because if so, you need to read the second book in the series, The Fall of Hyperion, because they're really two halves of the same story.

    Hyperion, all by itself, drove me to frothy-mouthed internet ranting because of its lack of resolution. However, once I found and finished the second book, all was forgiven. Together, those two books are one of my favourite science fiction stories of all time. Apart, they don't form a complete narrative.

    Oh--and just so you know, it's best to pretend the series ended after that, because gadzooks, do Endymion and The Rise of Endymion ever stink.
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  24. #24
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    It completely depends on the story. Personally, however, I like a very emotional ending, whether it be happy or sad. I like shocking endings. I hate when a book just "ends." I want to know by how powerful the last page, paragraph or line is that the story is over.
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  25. #25
    here and there again fadeaccompli's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jjdebenedictis View Post
    Hyperion by Dan Simmons? Because if so, you need to read the second book in the series, The Fall of Hyperion, because they're really two halves of the same story.

    Hyperion, all by itself, drove me to frothy-mouthed internet ranting because of its lack of resolution. However, once I found and finished the second book, all was forgiven. Together, those two books are one of my favourite science fiction stories of all time. Apart, they don't form a complete narrative.

    Oh--and just so you know, it's best to pretend the series ended after that, because gadzooks, do Endymion and The Rise of Endymion ever stink.
    I didn't like the first book well enough to go read another of the same length by the same author, even aside from the ending. But in general, I think there's a failure somewhere--possibly just by marketing--if a book ends on a cliffhanger and it's not made VERY CLEAR that what I am reading is not, in fact, a book, but a portion of a book. I mean, at least slap "PART ONE OF THE X SAGA" on the front or something.

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