Some of the best books I’ve ever read have the worst endings – and by worst endings, I mean they’re upsetting, annoying, devastating. Some I hate; some I love/hate. I’m talking books like Me Before You and One Day.
Me Before You is a love/hate. It made me cry and very few books do that. But it was the right ending for that book – I respected that ending. Conversely, I wonder if David Nicholls (or his editor) was it was too scared to give One Day a HEA in case it detracted from the credibility of the novel. If I’m correct, I think think it did the book a disservice. Okay, no one wants a trite ending, but the beauty of One Day was the detail of those twenty years, of how those two people changed over those twenty years. There was simply no need for that ending – it screamed of the post-modern literature I studied at uni, where the mantra seemed to be: To be a serious novel, the novel must be seriously depressing.
It was thanks to a reading list of seriously depressing novels at uni, that I discovered Jilly Cooper. Say what you will, when your life’s a bit pants or boring, escapism is the answer – Riders, Rivals, Polo and the Man Who… gave me that escapism. They also gave me the desire to live a glam life in the country #totesgettingthere
The thing is, Jilly would never give me a will they/won’t they ending. Michael Crichton (another author whose work I devoured post-uni) would never give me a credible but depressing ending. What about me?
I’ve delivered two happy endings, but I’m not sure – strike that – but I’m sure I don’t want to give a HEA for every book I write. I may want to leave it with a will they/won’t they ending (so long as the suggestion is… they will) but at some point, I’m going to want to have a they won’t ending – because sometimes, some stories… well, they just won’t (see Me Before You).
I’d love to give people the kind of feels I got from reading Me Before You (or watching Beaches), but I don’t want to p*ss off my readers and if my readers are anything like me and my relationship with One Day, they can get pretty p*ssed off.
So when is it the right time to mix it up – when you’ve got a solid readership who’ll forgive you for what they consider the “worst ending” or early so your readers know never to expect the norm? Answers on a postcard/comment/tweet
To get my latest HEA (though I’m not promising a HEA for everyone…) get Nearly Almost Somebody from Amazon today.