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Old 12-31-2012, 11:00 AM   #1
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Not so happy ending

So, you've finished reading the first book in a series and it seems to have a happy ending: The MC has survived the horrors of war, gone home, gotten together with her girlfriend, all that happy shit.

On a scale from 1-10, how betrayed would you be if book 2 takes that happy ending and renders it into tiny pieces?

See, I wrote my first novel with an ending that seems final, but has room for a sequel. Because I hate it when I open up a book, finish it and find that it has no sequels and the author has gone over a cliff or is flipping burgers in McDonalds.

Well, I'm not flipping burgers and so, I'm working on my sequel and my plan was always to destroy the happy ending I made because...

I'm a terrible person.

Basically, the MC's hopes and dreams are all broken. She "gets" them, but for one reason or another, they're not what she expected.

The peace she hoped for, after months of brutal warfare? Wracked with PTSD and the looming threat of a second deployment.

The internet relationship with her girlfriend becoming a physical one? Made horribly complicated by nightmares, arguments over the future and an overprotective parent.

And the quiet backwoods farm in the Republic of Quebec? Well, farming in the 2060s near the boarder of the NAU happens to involve a few more gunfights with transhuman bandits than previously anticipated...

There will be a real happy ending.

Kinda.

Sorta.

In the third book.

Maybe.

So, yeah...would you be upset with a novel that did this? Though, of course, the novel would be leavened with humor and despite the rough patches, my MC and her girlfriend are going to stay together. Because their relationship is tough, even if it's awkward and new and love sees us through and all that jazz.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:14 AM   #2
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Isn't this what all sequels do? Take a happy ending and then tear it apart?

I think if you think about any sequel or series, this is a common pattern. I wouldn't be upset by the idea that the happy ever after didn't turn out to be everything the character expected it to be.

In fact, what you're doing sounds realistic. Go for it.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:14 AM   #3
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Alien 3 anyone?

Well, it would be a shock if your heroine survived all of book 1 and then gets shot in the head in Chapter 1 of Book 2. But why should we assume that she is necessarily the protagonist of Book 2?
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:32 AM   #4
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Make it UNHAPPIER.

I wouldn't be upset by it. It sounds like she's gone through some serious stuff, and I would expect the effects of trauma to ripple through her life in big, big ways.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:52 AM   #5
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Aight, good.

I was plotting and was worrying slightly...
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:26 PM   #6
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I agree with Kewii. What the hell kind of second book would it be if it were 80K words of "and they're still happy, skipping through the fields with their puppy and money streaming out of their pockets"?

I'd feel betrayed if it WAS all sweetness and love in the sequel. Put your characters in a taller tree and through bigger rocks at them this time.
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:31 PM   #7
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Sounds perfectly reasonable to me...
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:33 PM   #8
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I agree with Kewii. What the hell kind of second book would it be if it were 80K words of "and they're still happy, skipping through the fields with their puppy and money streaming out of their pockets"?
*picks up tape recorder*

Note, write a book that's 80k of happy things.

*click*
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Old 12-31-2012, 01:59 PM   #9
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Old 12-31-2012, 03:04 PM   #10
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I envision an ending where they tumble into a pit and there's a HYOOOOOOOGE explosion!

Oh, wait, that's from Ed Wood...sorry.

Who says you have to have a happy ending? Since you're doing a trilogy, there's nothing written down where you have to get the MC and her girlfriend together during book 2 or even the third in the series. Life is not that simple. If you have them breaking up, meeting other people, or simply not meeting anyone at all, so be it. But if you don't want a happy ending where they are physically together and mentally happy, then don't have it. It may appear as mellerdrama to some, but it plays more realistically.

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Old 12-31-2012, 03:34 PM   #11
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Agree with everyone else. If you had planned to write a sequel in the first place, where would you have taken a second book with nothing but the happiness of happily-ever-after for X amount of chapters? If I was reading a sequel like that I would have to believe in the final chapter the world explodes or a dimensional rift separates the main characters between time and space in order for it all to be leading to something more than "and in the end everything stayed as cool as it was when the first book ended".
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Old 12-31-2012, 06:25 PM   #12
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Isn't that the rule of the sequel? The good guys are supposed to be at their lowest so that they can make a comeback in part 3. They can win part one, but in part two, Han Solo has to get put into the carbonite.

I'm thinking there's even a quote floating around from Peter Jackson that says he wishes they could have made the heroes lose the Battle of Helm's Deep in The Two Towers film.
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Old 12-31-2012, 07:20 PM   #13
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I think it's fine. It would be worse if there were no consequences to the things which happened in the first book and everything was fine and dandy for the whole book.

All though, if anyone has read the Tales of the Otori series, the final book of that, which took place a few decades after the original series was horrible. Everything that had been achieved in 3 books was torn apart and rendered futile, characters we'd grown to love turned into evil caricatures of themselves and it was one of the the most bleak, depressing things I've ever read because it ended with absolutely no hope for the future. I think that's going too far because I can't think about the other (awesome) books now, without feeling sad about how it all ends up.

But so long as there is some faint glimmer of hope at the end, I think you can make it as unhappy as you want
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Old 12-31-2012, 07:40 PM   #14
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Well... to answer your question, yeah, I'd be mad if a sequel tore a previous book's happy ending to shreds... but it also doesn't sound like that's what you're doing. As I define it, "tearing up a happy ending" would be "after the events of the last book, a safe crushed the MC as she was walking out of the bank and GF became a supervillain just 'cuz." What it sounds like you're doing is putting the reality to her dreams, showing that now she's gotten them, she still has to fight to keep them. That's a logical next step. I wouldn't be upset by that at all.
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:16 PM   #15
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I think that's the only way to keep people really interested, honestly. What fun is it to go into the second book in a series and get more of the exact same? Especially if you're going to bring things around full circle in a third book... it's essential.
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:37 PM   #16
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I don't think you can have a happy ending extend into the second book. Think about the Hunger Games. Katniss gets out alive with Peeta and they walk off into the sunset (sort of)... and what happens in the second book? It all falls to pieces. Second books are meant to ruin happy endings.
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:49 PM   #17
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Isn't that the rule of the sequel? The good guys are supposed to be at their lowest so that they can make a comeback in part 3. They can win part one, but in part two, Han Solo has to get put into the carbonite.
This. A horrible defeat, a new low, an abyss so dark and deep we can't believe they will ever be able to get out.
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:19 PM   #18
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Yeah, I'm with everyone else. Sequels tear apart everything that was built in the previous story. There have to be problems in the second book! You can't just write a story about their happy life! How boring!!!
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:32 PM   #19
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Agree with what's been said so far. Although it's interesting to note that all this talk of how the second book is meant to ruin things assumes there's a third book forthcoming, so you can fix it again. I know, the OP outright said there is, in fact, a third book forthcoming, but I get the impression that the expectation would be there regardless. Does no one write duologies anymore? Eh, I guess it doesn't matter if you're planning on a trilogy anyway, but I do wonder why the second book is always the ugly, abused stepchild of the series.
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:37 PM   #20
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Technically, the third book fixes things so the fourth book can ruin things again
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:31 AM   #21
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Quote:
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Isn't this what all sequels do? Take a happy ending and then tear it apart?

I think if you think about any sequel or series, this is a common pattern. I wouldn't be upset by the idea that the happy ever after didn't turn out to be everything the character expected it to be.

In fact, what you're doing sounds realistic. Go for it.

This.

I plan on doing the same in my sequel. :-)

I think many stories have the formula that you should what would happen to the MC to make things even WORSE? Of course, having a happy ending eventually is popular, but so are beginnings where everything goes wrong.

But I only have 2 books in my series, so I'm going to have to ruin, then fix, in one book.
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Old 01-01-2013, 07:19 AM   #22
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Agree. I've avoided reading the sequel to one of my favorite books because of this (and because it didn't need a sequel. Unnecessary sequels are sort of like any movie with a number after it. If you can't think of a unique title, it probably didn't deserve a new story).
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Isn't this what all sequels do? Take a happy ending and then tear it apart?

I think if you think about any sequel or series, this is a common pattern. I wouldn't be upset by the idea that the happy ever after didn't turn out to be everything the character expected it to be.

In fact, what you're doing sounds realistic. Go for it.
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Old 01-01-2013, 09:14 AM   #23
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This is a tough one, because personally, I don't typically like purely happy endings. If a second book ended like this, I would be disappointed, but, like you said, if the character did get what they wanted in the end (only to have it not be what they expected) I would be more interested in reading what happens next.

If anything, my favorite kind of endings are bittersweet, the kind where one great thing happens amid a thousand sucky things.

But I think you can pull of ripping things apart in the second if they get better in the third.
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