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Old 01-23-2013, 03:02 PM   #1
Shaley
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Red face Comedy ...... with a Serious Ending ???

Hello All
this is my first Post so apologies in advance for any mistakes.

Ok so I am just about finished my first 75,000 word novel. It is predominantly a work of Humour /Satire about a modern day Aristocratic or Landed Gentry family Father , Mother, Adult son, who are on the run from Interpol and flee from England to Rural Italy. The entire novel takes place over one week and the MC of the novel is the father of the family who also owns a bank.

The plot is delibertely set at a fairly fast pace as there is a lot of action and dialogue usually connected with the terrible disasters the family cause in the little Italian town,either independently or as a group on a daily basis.

However (and this is the crux of my question) the last chapter has been purposely written with a definate twist (even though clues had been dropped earlier on in previous chapters) and becomes a lot more serious than all the previous chapters revealing hidden secrets about the characters that the reader would not have known.This is mostly achieved via a letter that is left from one character to another conveying secrets and lies that had been told years ago, Also within this letter is another letter written forty two years ago that provides the proof in relation to the secrets and lays to rest the unresolved ghosts of the past.

My question is even though essentially the novel is a comedy/satire.Do you think it is still OK to finish the story on a serious note that possibly provokes the reader to think on a deeper level about the events of the novel ? or Do you think the reader will feel ripped of if they are not having a big Ha ha ha belly laugh right up untill the end ....... BTW there is a sequel in the pipeline !!
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Old 01-23-2013, 03:09 PM   #2
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The end of Blackadder Goes Forth was serious and definitely didn't make me shed a tear or two.
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Old 01-23-2013, 03:13 PM   #3
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If it works, it works. I think you could find many examples of books that do this. I'm thinking more of movies and plays, for example the Tyler Perry movies have Perry cross-dressing as a hilarious woman but the other plots are quite serious; incest, pedophilia, adultery, and more. There was also a play called "Second Samuel" that is incredibly satirical and funny in its first act and downright heavily preachy in its second.

In short, if you can think of it, it can work if done well. Best of luck!
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Old 01-23-2013, 03:45 PM   #4
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Also, Catch 22 has heart wrenching serious bits all the way through.
Spoiler:
"But Yossarian understood suddenly why McWatt wouldn't jump, and went running uncontrollably down the whole length of the squadron after McWatt's plane, waving his arms and shouting up at him imploringly to come down, McWatt, come down; but no one seemed to hear, certainly not McWatt, and a great, choking moan tore from Yossarian's throat as McWatt turned again, dipped his wings once in salute, decided oh, well, what the hell, and flew into a mountain"
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Old 01-23-2013, 04:02 PM   #5
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The end of Blackadder Goes Forth was serious and definitely didn't make me shed a tear or two.
Nor me.


I shed LOADS.
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Old 01-23-2013, 04:02 PM   #6
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True, but Blackadder Goes Forth was dealing with a subject that's incredibly sensitive still. I think if they hadn't taken that more serious tone in the final episode, there would've been complaints. Oh, would there have been complaints.... And throughout the series, in fact, they took great care to acknowledge the seriousness amid the humour.

Still a bit surprising that they got away with it.

I don't think a family rioting abroad will require similar treatment.

I'm reminded of The Great Escape which starts as a comedy and ends with an atrocity. I hate that film. It deceives. You're led by the comedy to believe nothing bad will happen, and then....

On the whole, yes, this *can* work, but you probably need to flag up the more serious ending with hints of seriousness throughout.

Which is it, however, aristocracy or landed gentry? Not the same thing at all.
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Old 01-23-2013, 04:10 PM   #7
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John Scalzi's recent REDSHIRTS starts off as amusing satire and gets deadly serious by the end.
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Old 01-23-2013, 04:45 PM   #8
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Hi All,
thanks very much for all the fab informative replies I have read them all and found them to be quite useful. Yes I agree with the example that was given about Black Adder goes forth ....... I guess it always comes back to the How much v Too much conundrum and how carefully those sorts of sensitive issues are dealt with ........ my novel does involve Art Fraud, Prostitution, International Money Laundering, Mafia Activities Alcoholism and Infidelity to name just a few but these are all in the lighter funnier chapters where the reader knows the characters dirty little secrets and is always one step ahead ...... it is all very "tongue in cheek"

Good Question re the difference between the two ..... being a Typical Ozzie i am not too sure how the mechanics of it all works but as far as I can tell In England, the term often refers to the social class of the landed aristocracy or to the minor aristocracy (see landed gentry) whose income derives from their large landholdings. So I guess the family would be better known as Landed Gentry because they come from a long line of land owners and currently own a Bank

I would love to hear some more opinions !!!!
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Old 01-23-2013, 05:06 PM   #9
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Also, Catch 22 has heart wrenching serious bits all the way through.
I never thought of Catch 22 as a comedy. To me, it's book that uses comedy to explore a serious subject, which I think is different than a comedy with a serious ending.
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Old 01-23-2013, 05:20 PM   #10
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Basically, the aristocracy have titles and don't have to work. The landed gentry only don't have to work.
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Old 01-23-2013, 06:42 PM   #11
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Shaley, !

I think it sounds like a fun. Of course a serious ending is fine.
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Old 01-23-2013, 11:14 PM   #12
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The Adam Sandler film, Click, has an ending that has been known to make people cry.

If it works in the story, it works, and if it's unexpected and still works, it's gold.
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Old 01-23-2013, 11:36 PM   #13
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You ever heard of the genre "Romantic Comedy"? It is usually applied to movies like Knocked Up, Hitch, and 50 First Dates.

You ever seen 50 First Dates? How it ended? Ever watch Shaun of the Dead knowing that 'romantic comedy' was applied to it?

Ever know that William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is a romantic comedy (for the first couple acts, anyway)?

In other words, they exist, and if it works, have at it. You are in good company I think.
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Old 01-24-2013, 12:14 AM   #14
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I hated, loathed, detested, and have never re-watched the movie Terms of Endearment because for the first 3/4 it was an engaging light-hearted comedy, then abruptly turned into a tearjerking melodrama. It was a new movie at the time. I went in un-spoiled. I came out deeply resenting having spent the money to get in.

However, a lot of people love that movie, and that sort of bait-and-switch. If you think you can pull it off, go for it.
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Old 01-24-2013, 01:24 AM   #15
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It can work as long as it doesn't feel like a bait-and-switch. You have to foreshadow that serious ending.
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Old 01-24-2013, 04:11 AM   #16
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What everyone said -- if it works, it works.

Beth points out the comedy is infused with the tragedy to come. So true. A final chapter can't be tacked on in a choose-your-own-adventure way. If the work is an organic whole, right from the first chapter, the only possible ending is tragic. A happy ending wouldn't 'fit'.

Let me just add a general warning against polemic.
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Old 01-24-2013, 11:49 AM   #17
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I like comedy about disturbed relations, which in the end clash and resolve so that all negative emotions are turned into postive ones. So, yeah, these can be very serious and have serious endings. For me, it doesn't really diminish the "hahaha" factor.
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Old 01-24-2013, 04:56 PM   #18
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I hated, loathed, detested, and have never re-watched the movie Terms of Endearment because for the first 3/4 it was an engaging light-hearted comedy, then abruptly turned into a tearjerking melodrama. It was a new movie at the time. I went in un-spoiled. I came out deeply resenting having spent the money to get in.

However, a lot of people love that movie, and that sort of bait-and-switch. If you think you can pull it off, go for it.

My mom had a similar experience with some movie she watched on TV when she was pregnant with me.

It was an unhappy time of her life for lots of reasons that I won't go into here; the movie depicted itself as a light-hearted feel-good movie which was exactly what she needed.

The movie ended tragically, with everything going horribly wrong, the man's pregnant wife dying, etc.

I don't know what movie it was, but I know it involved Michael Landon, because she never, ever forgave him for doing that to her.


As others have said, anything can work if you pull it off.

But be very careful about promising something different than what you deliver, and the effect it will have on someone who really and truly needs what you are promising.
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Old 01-24-2013, 05:06 PM   #19
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Old 01-24-2013, 05:09 PM   #20
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Quote:
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It can work as long as it doesn't feel like a bait-and-switch. You have to foreshadow that serious ending.
This.

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Originally Posted by job View Post
What everyone said -- if it works, it works.

Beth points out the comedy is infused with the tragedy to come. So true. A final chapter can't be tacked on in a choose-your-own-adventure way. If the work is an organic whole, right from the first chapter, the only possible ending is tragic. A happy ending wouldn't 'fit'.

Let me just add a general warning against polemic.
And very much this.
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Old 01-24-2013, 06:11 PM   #21
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I never thought of Catch 22 as a comedy. To me, it's book that uses comedy to explore a serious subject, which I think is different than a comedy with a serious ending.
I suppose. That's generally the kind of comedy I like the best though. And I think you kind of have to do it that way to avoid the bait and switch others have mentioned.
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Old 01-24-2013, 07:22 PM   #22
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I think comedy with a serious ending can work wonderfully, as long as there's a serious undertone throughout. If it's pure comedy, and you simply spring a serious ending on the reader with no foreshadowing, the book becomes a wall banger.
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Old 01-25-2013, 10:31 AM   #23
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Thanks so much everyone for taking the time to reply ......I have read each and every post and found them all to be very helpful. I must confess after reading my intial post again ( NB it was written whilst dying of the dreaded "Lurgy" so... stuffed to the Gills with Codral cold and Flu Tabs).......I realised it must have been difficult to respond considering I gave very little detail about the Actual Plot of the Story

Ok yes I agree it would be foolish and essentially a sounding of the "Death Knells" to suddenly introduce a complete change of mood and or tone to the novel in the last chapter.

Just to give a little bit more info ........ Yes there is a sense of danger, urgency and hostility presiding over and throughout the entire novel but always wrapped up in Humour. Especially in regard to the MC who has essentially been Lying to all the other characters in the novel and at best only ever telling half truths. So I guess it would not be completely unexpected to introduce a twist in the last chapter ...... However on the other hand each chapter always finishes with a cliff hanger ( obviously deliberate ..... a bit of a poke if you like at contemporary Crime/Action Novels ) and as far as the reader knows the MC has vanished never to be seen again ........ Hence the twist with the letter indicating that the MC had been planning revenge right from the beginning for the past actions of the Character who receives the letter ....... I hope that makes a bit more sense ....... Perhaps the Novel Borders on Black Comedy ??? ...... I would still like to hear more Opinions ..... Thanks
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Old 01-25-2013, 11:55 AM   #24
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This is a bit OT but I just had to come back to tell you that I thought about your book even after I was offline and the antics that family causes in Italy really makes me think I would very much enjoy reading this book when it gets published, eve if the ending is more serious!
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Old 01-25-2013, 04:44 PM   #25
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I think light and shade, contrast, the paradox, make great books. Without the humor I find it hard to relate to deadly serious novels and without the darkness, I often feel unsatisfied with comedies. We want a journey after all and want to see the characters change over the course of the story.
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