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November 21, 2012



            The title kind of slaps you right in the face, doesn’t it? It’s a subject I feel very strong about. It’s something I don’t tolerate in a story that I spend my good money, invest time, or become emotionally involved in. The same can be said for movies.

            The seed for this article comes from my Saturday evening icky bug on the SyFy Channel, weekend before last. They showed a pretty cool/bad offering called Ghost Storm. I loved it for all of its B-movie hokieness. However, just before it came on, I saw the ending of The Mist.

            Of all the horrible endings in a movie, that had to be the worst. If there was ever a story that had so much fun and potential, only to be spoiled but a bummer of a conclusion, that was it. The only other story I can think of in recent memory that comes close is The Ruins. There was no payoff, no reason for sitting there either reading the book or watching the movie adapted from it. All for naught.

            For some reason, there’s a group of authors, and I suppose, some readers (and movie goers) out there that love screwed up and bummer endings. There’s all the buildup, the emotional investment, only to have it all thrown away in the end. This seems to be a big thrill for this group. Maybe it’s a big thing for some of you reading this. I just don’t get it.

            I was never a big fan of Stephen King for a lot of reasons, even though he’s a literary hero, from a distance. I like most of his movies more than his books. Yet, I also step cautiously, now more than ever with anything he does, especially after The Mist. I’m also highly suspicious of any author he endorses, such as Scott Smith, after he “highly recommended” The Ruins.

            Those of you that have read my blogs from the beginning know I hate bummer endings, so this is nothing new. I sometimes get reminded of how much I hate this kind of writing when I see something like The Mist by accident, as I did the other night. It makes me hope there aren’t too many of you out there writing stories like that. In this day and age, especially, we don’t need shocking bummer endings to cheer people up! It reminds me of all those 70’s movies where the heroes always died, like it was an unwritten law or something. Sometimes the 70’s really sucked!

            As a writer, is your goal to do nothing more than shock your audience or is it to provide them reading pleasure? Would you rather leave them with a smile on their face, maybe a happy tear? Or, is your sole purpose to leave them sick to their stomach, pissed off, or ruin their day? I love to write scary, even creepy stories, but I don’t like to end them that way. There has to be light at the end of the tunnel. Some writer’s use the excuse that they need to kill off their heroes once in a while to keep up the suspense, keep the readers on their toes. I don’t buy that. I can still get suspense from the character being in jeopardy while knowing full well he or she will survive. Maybe I’m easy to satisfy but I much prefer positive endings. If I want bad endings, I can read non-fiction anytime.

            Sure, there’s a place for everything, but I certainly don’t want to be the one contributing to it.

            Maybe it’s because I’m a glass is half full person. How about you?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 21, 2012 3:56 am

    You make some good points. There are enough terrible things happening in the world. The last thing we need is to be bummed out in fiction. I had the misfortune of seeing the movie Sinister a few weeks ago. Total bummer.

    • November 22, 2012 2:27 pm


      First off, welcome to my site! Second, thanks for the warning about Sinister!

      You are right. Like you, I read fiction to escape the real world, not remind myself of it. If I want that, all I have to do is watch the nightly news or pick up any history or non-fiction book.



  2. Peggy West permalink
    November 21, 2012 4:04 am

    I am writing historical romances these days and they call for a happy ending where the couple gets together. I wrote a coming-of-age novella where the ending is the only one it could be (no rescue, nothing thrilling, just the protagonist understanding her surroundings). I have read fiction with epilogues that are more or less the happy ending that only fit after the last chapter. I have mixed feelings about happy endings. We get moments of relief and contentment in life but then it’s on to the next battle. Should we write this way, too? Maybe it depends on the genre.

    • November 22, 2012 2:32 pm


      In the case of romantic stories, a bittersweet ending isn’t necessarily a crappy ending. In the case of The Mist, the hero shoots his family so the monsters, which he hears coming, don’t get them. The problem is, the sounds he hears are the rescue team. He kills his family for nothing. THAT’S a crappy ending.

      Besides that one, anytime the hero dies I just hate, regardless. When, as in a romance, the guy doesn’t get the girl, or vice versa, at least nobody dies so that’s not such a crappy ending.


  3. November 21, 2012 4:16 am

    Fred, perchance you didn’t like the ending of my book, “Diary of a Young Musician,Final Days of the Big Band Era,” you might have another chance now that I’m playing again, with the possibility of rewriting the ending with something spectacular. No, I’m not going to die of old age, that would be unfair to me. I’ll think about it while I’m practicing. I used to get my best ideas when I was in the shower, now it’s when I’m playing.

    • November 22, 2012 2:35 pm


      I loved the ending of your book! You didn’t die plus you redeemed it all with the way things turned out. I don’t want to give it away to anyone else that might read it but it ended up well, obviously.

      Your book does NOT have a crappy ending. Plus, you got your lip back anyway, despite all!


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