18 August, 2010

Good vs. Bad Endings

You may be vaguely familiar with my story titled Jabberwocky. The reason I haven't written [much of] it is because the story is alive. It is the story of my life. And I do not yet know how it ends. But I was just thinking about it, having advanced beyond a previous stage in my life/the story. Previously, the ending appeared to me to be a "bad end" type ending, with the hero wandering aimlessly through the jungle, after losing his sense of purpose thanks to a faerie enchantment, and ultimately being destroyed by the demon that haunts him - the Jabberwock. Now, the way my life is going, I feel more inclined to write in a more positive ending, where the hero eventually (though not yet) conquers the demon and wins the day. Now I ask myself, which ending is a better ending to the story? Ultimately I'll choose whichever ending is the true ending regardless, but it's interesting to think about.

Most people would say that the triumphant ending would be better, but I've always gone against that trend. Considering the way my life tends to go, I can relate more to the tragic endings. They move me, more profoundly than a happy ending usually does. But looking at it right now, I can see the merit of a "good end". You want to see the hero overcome the obstacles and achieve victory. Maybe not because that's how life always goes, but because it gives you hope in life - it gives you a model to follow, something to keep you positive, with your head held high, advancing towards the castle in the sky (oh god, I love the irony of using that image here).

So anyway, I can see the merits of both endings. In fact, I might be able to get away with using both of them. It's like Final Fantasy VI. SPOILER! When the last person alive on the planet - after it has been utterly destroyed by a madman in a clown costume - driven to depression after the death of her foster grandfather (the second-to-last person alive on the planet), leaps to her certain death from atop a mountain peak, with the scorched sky in the background, and a beautifully morbid melody playing all the while...when she leaps to her death, I say, it is the perfect tragic ending. It is like the demise of Romeo & Juliet, but on a worldwide scale.

And yet...and yet, she survives, and the game continues, and she discovers that she is not the last person alive - in fact all (or most) of her friends are alive, and they have a chance yet to take the madman down, to foil his plans to build a monument to nonexistence, that love and companionship prevails in the end, and it is a beautiful ending. I think, perhaps, it is better to have had both endings (though the previous one is not truly an ending - but merely an interlude). END SPOILER. And perhaps I shall take my cue from that model.


  1. Freaky, I was thinking about this just the other day. What movie was I watching... It might have been Kick-Ass. I was definitely rooting for a bad ending, no matter what may or may not have happened.

    There are definitely a lot of great things about utilizing the bad ending, and it is painfully underused (due likely to pure cowardice or underdeveloped originality). However I'm also very fond of the good ending. I guess it goes without saying, but it depends on the film. And what the film's aim is. If something like Sailor Moon or DBZ used a bad ending, I would have been devestated in a bad way, because for me it was all about the triumph of good. Whereas I'm actually hoping that the third installment of the new Batman movies will go for a bad ending, because even though it will be devestating... it will fit with the tone of the series and ensure that something truly powerful will be held within the third movie, like the first and second.

    False-stop sounds like a perfect way to go about your story. I'd say I look forward to seeing it's completion except that I'm wondering if it won't be finished until you reach your 'death bed.' Unless you get to the point where you feel you can conclusively end your fictional life, which is a point I'd like to reach someday soon. Not as if you're ready to die, but as if you've reached the pointb where the primary conflict is resolved, the so-called 'happily ever after.'

  2. Heh. Yeah. It'll be kind of hard to write if I wait until after I'm dead. It may not even really be my whole life story, just an important, self-contained chunk of it. I guess, while I was wandering the jungle, I kind of felt instinctively that it wasn't over yet, that it wasn't complete, that there was more coming, and so that's why I waited. Who knows if it will ever really end, but I ought to sit down and write it someday, even if I have to write it in chunks. Even if I did die with the story unfinished, there could then be part of it completed. And life is full of potential endings. The only mark of the "real" one is whether or not you continue past it.